Additional reporting by Neil Merrett.
Five political parties remain registered in the Maldives following the ratification of the controversial Political Parties Bill by President Mohamed Waheed.
Vice President of Elections Commission (EC) Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News today (March 12) that a total of 11 political parties had now been removed from its political party registry in accordance to the new bill.
Out of the 16 parties that had previously existed prior to the ratification of the bill, only the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhoree Party (JP) and Adhaalath Party (AP) remain registered in the Maldives.
The Political Parties Bill, ratified today (March 12), states that parties who do not meet the required 10,000 members will no longer be recognised as such in the Maldives.
President Waheed’s own party, Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) was one of the 11 parties dissolved following the bill’s ratification, despite the president’s claims that it had reached 10,000 members.
EC Vice President Fayaz said that whilst GIP and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) had both submitted enough forms to meet the 10,000 minimum, many of those forms were still pending and so could not be counted.
“There are two parties who have submitted close to, or over the 10,000 membership minimum, but just because the parties have 10,000 membership forms submitted, it does not mean they have 10,000 party members.
“We followed procedure in accordance to the [Political Parties] bill. Within that bill there is a clause that clearly states, that when a party that has less than 10,000 members it is to become null and void. The EC acted in accordance to the law,” Fayaz told Minivan News.
It had been previously reported that upon ratification of the bill, political parties with fewer than 10,000 members would have three months to reach the required amount or face dissolution.
When asked about the clause, Fayaz stated it only applied to registered parties in accordance to the bill, and that therefore if a party does not meet the 10,000 limit it cannot be classed as such and is therefore exempt from the three-month clause.
Government takes measures to “rectify” Political Parties Bill
Speaking to Minivan News, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad said the government had decided to take measures to “rectify” the decision to dissolve all but five of the country’s political parties.
The dissolution of the parties is seen by the state as an infringement of people’s right to form political bodies, according to Masood.
“The constitution does give the right for every citizen to do this,” he added.
Masood contended that Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor had this afternoon sought to file motions with the country’s Supreme Court raising concerns with the decision to dissolve the parties following the ratification of the controversial Political Parties Bill by President Waheed earlier today.
However, at the time of press, he said he was not aware exactly of the nature of documentation submitted to the courts by the attorney general.
Addressing the impact of President Waheed’s own party being dissolved, Masood said the decision would not be a problem for the functioning of the present government.
However, he declined to comment on what implications a lack of party could have on President Waheed’s prospects for re-election.
“There maybe some issues there going forward, but you would need to speak with a spokesperson for the president’s party,” he said. “I would rather not comment on the matter.”
Local media reported that the AG’s Office had submitted both the Political Parties Act and the Privileges and Powers of Parliament Members Act to the Supreme Court today, stating that the bills contain a number of legal discrepancies.
At time of press, Attorney General Azima Shukoor and GIP party spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were not responding to calls from Minivan News.
President Waheed’s Special Advisor and Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Dr Hassan Saeed, and MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam, Interim Leader of the recently formed Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), were also not returning calls today.