Will increase PPM membership to 65,000 if elected: Yameen

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential primary candidate Abdulla Yameen has claimed he will increase the party’s membership to 65,000 before the September elections.

According to figures from the Elections Commission, PPM has a total of 22,765 members as of February, meaning that Yameen will have to increase the party’s membership by 37,235 in just six months to reach his target.

Speaking at a campaign rally on Sunday (March 24), Yameen said that on  request of his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, he had worked to increase the party’s membership since it was first established, local media reported.

“If you give us assurance from the vote on the 30th, by the time we reach the presidential election, with more effort and without show of any fatigue, by August I will increase our party’s count from 31,000 to 60,000 or 65,000, God willing,” Yameen was quoted as saying in SunOnline.

The presidential primary candidate claimed that PPM is the most legitimate of political parties as fingerprints are recorded when registering members to the party.

According to local media, Gayoom’s children made an appearance at Sunday’s rally in order to show support for Yameen.

In a display of solidarity, Dhunya Maumoon, Farish Maumoon, Gassan Maumoon and Yumna’s husband Mohamed Nadheem went on stage to hold hands with Yameen, local media reported.

PPM’s former Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla reportedly told the audience that because Gayoom’s children supported Yameen, it would be a reason to vote for him.

Both Yameen and Umar Naseer are competing in the PPM presidential primary on March 30.


Eleven political parties dissolved after controversial bill ratified by President

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.


Gayoom urges “rethink” of Maldives Commonwealth membership

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has this week discussed the Maldives’ membership in the Commonwealth, urging the country to “rethink the whole situation” in regards to its role in the organisation.

Gayoom’s comments were made as the Maldives comes under pressure from the 54 member state intergovernmental organisation to modify the terms of reference and composition of an independent body to ascertain the exact details of February’s controversial transfer of power in the country.  The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (GMAG) has said it would otherwise consider “stronger” measures against the government should it fail to establish a “credible” and “independent” Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

Covering an address given by Gayoom Thursday evening at a ceremony to honour former Foreign Minister Fathulla Jameel, Haveeru reported the former president as saying the Maldives did not really have a basis to be a member of the Commonwealth.

The former president also claimed the Commonwealth’s role has changed since the Maldives joined back in 1982.  Gayoom claimed the body has formerly worked with smaller nations to maintain their independence  – a purpose he now questioned.

“The actions of the Commonwealth have changed since then, to a point where we now have to have a rethink about the whole situation. That’s how much the world has changed now,” he claimed

Gayoom’s said his comments were also based on the fact that the country had never itself been a former colony unlike neighbours such as India and Sri Lanka.

“We were under the protection of the British. That’s a different situation altogether. There wasn’t a British ruler in the form of a Governor General or a Governor in the Maldives. The leader of the nation had been a Maldivian even during that time. Hence Maldives really have no basis to become a member of the Commonwealth as the member States of the Commonwealth include nations that had been subject to British rule,” Gayoom was reported as saying.

The Sun Online news service meanwhile reported that Gayoom also noted concerns that the Commonwealth had changed from when the Maldives first joined as a member back in 1982 to a body  representing larger countries aiming to “impose their influence on smaller ones.”

“Earlier, smaller nations had the opportunity to express their interests to the world through Commonwealth. That’s why we decided that Maldives should join Commonwealth. But now things are very different,” Sun Online quoted the former president as saying.

Some government-aligned MPs and political representatives have in recent weeks called on the state to renounce its membership in the Commonwealth.  Hoever, the government itself has stressed it remains committed to the organisation and the CNI.


MDP regains membership majority

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is once again the political party with most members in the country, reports Miadhu.

Last Tuesday, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) had claimed membership majority with a total of 32,539.

According to Miadhu, the Elections Commission (EC) said MDP reached 33,270 members and had an additional 3,500 forms waiting for verification.