Elections Commission to respond after Supreme Court issues injunction on dissolution of parties

The Elections Commission (EC) is to decide on how it is to proceed following Supreme Court’s temporary injunction on the dissolution of political parties.

The court issued the temporary stay order on Thursday (March 14) after Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor filed a case claiming that sections of the recently ratified Political Parties Act were in contradiction to the constitution.

Local media reported that Supreme Court had asked all authorities not to consider any party as dissolved until the case is decided.

President of the EC, Fuad Thaufeeq revealed that the commission would make a decision regarding what action would be taken in response to the Supreme Court’s order.

“The commission will sit tomorrow (March 17) to discuss and decide on how we shall proceed. We have to respect and obey court orders,” Fuad told Minivan News via SMS.

The Political Parties Bill – ratified by President Mohamed Waheed on Tuesday (March 12) – states that parties must now meet a minimum of 10,000 members before they can be recognised as such.

Following the bill’s approval by President Waheed, a total of 11 parties were removed of the EC’s political party registry, leaving five to compete in upcoming presidential elections later this year.

When asked whether the EC would now reinstate the parties removed off its registry prior the Supreme Court’s final decision on the case, Fuad stated: “We will follow the court’s orders.”

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.

EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz previously told Minivan News that the EC had removed parties that did not meet the required membership amount in “accordance to the law”.

“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,” he said.

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.

Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor, Director Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid and Vice President of Elections Commission (EC) Ahmed Fayaz were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.


Political Parties Act was fabricated to destroy GIP: GIP

Minister of State for Finance and Spokesperson for President Mohamed Waheed’s abolished Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP), Abbas Adil Riza, has said that he does not accept that the party has been dissolved despite the Elections Commission saying otherwise.

During a press conference held at Nalahiyaa Hotel on Wednesday, Riza said the elections commission had not informed them of the party’s dissolution.

Following the ratification of Political Parties Act, only five political parties remain registered in the Maldives. Remaining parties include: opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and government-aligned parties Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhoree Party (JP) and Adhaalath Party (AP).

Vice President of Elections Commission (EC) Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News on Tuesday that a total of 11 political parties had now been removed from its political party registry in accordance to the new Act.

President Waheed’s own party, GIP was among 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,” he said at the time.

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.

Meanwhile Abbas Adil Riza contended that a high priority was given by parliament members in drafting the Political Parties Bill which became law on Tuesday, claiming that the bill was fabricated to destroy the party.  Riza also accused Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid of playing a pivotal role in making sure the bill got passed into law.

Last week, both parliament’s minority leader and majority leader unanimously supported to overrule the vetoed Political Parties bill without any amendments, forcing it through. Out of the 67 members present during the vote, 60 voted in favour of the passage of the bill while six voted against the bill and one MP abstained.

During the press conference, Riza also contended that Maldives’ political party system was “significantly in need of smaller political parties” and that all major political parties had “betrayed the nation” because it had the support base needed to do so.

He also contended that the party would file a petition in Supreme Court challenging the Political Parties Act and the Elections Commission in its decision to abolish the party.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad – who is also a member of GIP – echoed similar remarks earlier, claiming the government had decided to take measures to “rectify” the decision to dissolve all but five of the country’s political parties.

He argued that the dissolution of the parties is seen by the state as an infringement of people’s right to form political bodies which he maintained was a constitutional right.

Masood contended that Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor had on Tuesday 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 Act.

However, it remains unclear as to whether the Supreme Court has accepted the case or not.

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.


Attorney general challenges Political Parties Act in Supreme Court

The attorney general has filed a case in the Supreme Court requesting a writ of mandamus against the Elections Commission to prevent dissolution of political parties that has failed to maintain the required 10,000 members as stipulated in the Political Parties Act.

The parliament’s overrule of presidential veto on the Political Parties Bill by a majority of 60 votes on Tuesday (March 5) means the bill will automatically came into force without needing ratification from the president.

Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham was reported in local media as stating that enactment of the Political Parties Act meant political parties that do not have the required number of members would be dissolved without any transitional period.

The attorney general, he said, was of the view that dissolution of smaller political parties without a transitional period would compromise the rights of several parties.

The case

According to Usham, the state has requested the Supreme Court issue a writ that would prevent dissolution of the parties prior to a court decision, or until a transitional mechanism is set up.

“Referring to the legal principles employed in other democratic societies, dissolution of a political party that is formed in accordance with the law is only given on very exceptional occasions,” he told local newspaper Haveeru.

He contended that the consequence of ratifying the bill was that smaller political parties would be dissolved in an irresponsible manner without being given the opportunity to attain the required membership.

The attorney general requested the Supreme Court declare who should be held responsible for the debts incurred by a political party dissolved as per the Political Parties Act.

“We have filed the case in two ways. The first asking the Supreme Court to issue a writ declaring that smaller political parties will not be dissolved and the second to invalidate the clause which dictates dissolution of political parties that do not have a membership of 10,000. The bill failed to highlight who should be responsible to the debts incurred by the party and its employees,” an official from the AG’s office stated.

According to the official, the same arguments were reflected in the letter giving reasons for vetoing the bill, which was sent to parliament by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik before it was forced into law.

“Our concern is that political parties are legal entities, they have made contracts with several parties. If they are dissolved without a transitional period this compromises a lot of rights,” he added.

Passage of the bill

The Political Parties bill was passed on December 2012 however, President Waheed – whose own Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) is among those set to be dissolved – refused to ratify the bill and sent it back to parliament for reconsideration in January.

However, with unanimous support from both parliament’s minority leader and majority leader, the bill was forced into law by overruling the presidential veto on Tuesday. Out of the 67 members present during the vote, 60 voted in favour of the passage of the bill while six voted against the bill and one MP abstained.

The law will provide a three month period for any political party with fewer than 10,000 members to reach the required amount or face being dissolved.

Article 11 of the law states that at least 10,000 signatures would be needed to register a party at the Elections Commission (EC), which would be mandated to ensure that membership does not fall below the figure.

Parties unable to sign 10,000 members would be dissolved.

Immediate dissolution of smaller political parties

However following the ratification, President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeg stated that the commission’s interpretation of the act suggests that political parties that do not have a minimum of 10,000 members could be abolished immediately.

He stated that once the act is gazetted, the commission was of the view that smaller political parties would immediately be dissolved. However, he said that EC’s legal team was currently reviewing the act and would make a decision based on its report.

“Our legal team is currently reviewing the law before it actually is enacted. The bill having passed by such a strong majority means that the commission would make all the necessary arrangements to begin enforcing the law,” he said.

He added that the law gives the Elections Commission additional powers to regulate and discipline political parties and that the law also gives powers to the commission to take action against parties that violate the law.

Despite several parties facing being dissolved, Thaufeeg said that he hoped to see several parties registered under the new law.


Several leaders of smaller political parties including President Waheed have criticised the Act.

During a party rally held in GIP headquarters, President Mohamed Waheed criticised parliament claiming that the legislature was very “stubborn” towards amending the bill.

Meanwhile, his party spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said on Thursday in a press conference that the political parties act directly violated the constitution and compromised several rights guaranteed by the constitution.

“Fundamental rights can only be abolished through a public referendum. We want parliament members to amend the act,” he said. “Our problem is not just 10,000. The Act is flawed and has several lapses.”

He added that GIP wish to intervene in the case filed in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Adhaalath Party leaders claimed the legislation was a direct attempt to dissolve the party and in the long run “eradicate” Islamic ideology from Maldivian politics and “defeat” the party’s efforts to oppose alleged attempts to secularise the country.

“This is a big political and legal challenge [they] placed before Adhaalath Party. The way the political sphere in the country is shaped today, it is very important for a political party like Adhaalath Party to exist,” said its leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla at the time.

DQP Leader Hassan Saeed echoed the Adhaalath Party in warning that he would seek to invalidate the bill through the Supreme Court if it was ratified. Latest statistics shows that the DQP’s membership currently stands less than 3,000 members.

“While it is a constitutional right for anybody to form political parties, I do also believe that a right could be limited through legislation. But such a limit should be placed in accordance to principles justified in other free and democratic societies. The current bill demanding a certain membership size in order for a political party to be registered is a big problem,” Saeed was quoted saying in local media.

Of the 16 parties currently in existence, only five parties now have more than 10,000 registered members, including the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) as well as the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) and most recently, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).

According to EC, tourism magnate Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam’s Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) have also attained the required number of members.

Political parties were first authorised in the Maldives in May 2005 following an executive decree by then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The regulation required 3,000 members for registration and did not stipulate whether parties with membership numbers falling below the figure would be dissolved.


Political party regulation is too vague: EC President

President of the Elections Commission (EC), Fuad Thaufeeq has said regulation under which political parties operate in the Maldives is too vague, when it comes to their requirements of party activity and membership.

Thaufeeq told Minivan News that the commission has drafted and submitted a bill dictating the operation of political parties in the Maldives.

Thaufeeq highlighted loopholes in the existing regulation on political parties, originally introduced by presidential decree by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom in 2005.

The largest party in the Maldives is the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former President Mohamed Nasheed, following an acrimonious split of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) in late 2010 and the formation of an offshoot party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), by Gayoom the following year.

DRP remains the second largest party in the country, and has competed for members with the PPM. The remaining parties in the Maldives are relatively small, have little representation in parliament, and relatively small based around usually one particular political figure. An exception is the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, which has no MPs and few island councillors, but has a strong voice through the Islamic scholars who make up its membership.

Parties require 3000 members to be created, but this number does not need to be maintained: “There is no stipulation in the regulation highlighting the requirement of 3000 members,” said Thaufeeq.

“The regulations are very vague, because you require 3000 members to form a political party but after formation what happens with smaller parties is that the membership drops tremendously,” he explained. “There are parties which have less than a thousand members, and some with less those than 2000.”

The regulation did not explicitly mention that parties needed to maintain this membership in order to continue to receive political party funding from the EC, Thaufeeq explained.

In an audit report on the elections commission, the Auditor General recently advised the commission not to grant funds to inactive political parties. However, “As a principle, we usually give funds to any parties which are active and follow our requirements, such as producing an annual audit report of the party every year.”

“Whenever we hold the funds, the parties take the issue to the court. When the court orders us to pay the money, we don’t have any option but to release the funds,” Thaufeeq explained.

Asked on what basis the court is making the decision, he said “The court in its order states that the elections commission does not have the authority to withhold the funds of political parties.

“But I believe the commission has the authority to hold funds when we are not certain of how the funds are being used. This is the money from the people that we are giving out to the parties, and it shouldn’t be misappropriated,” Thaufeeq said.

According to Thaufeeq, funds for six politicial parties in the 2012 budget were withheld initially, but were released after proper monitoring. Thaufeeq said funds for the remaining two political parties cannot be released because the parties had not adhered to the commission’s requirements.

The Maldives National Congress (MNC), a political party with a current membership of 1536, has sent a letter to the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid regarding the matter, asking parliament to look into it.

However, Thaufeeq said that he and the commission had high hopes for the proposed political parties’ bill which was drafted by the Attorney General’s office and the commission.

“I believe the political parties’ bill currently in parliament will be the solution. We have included a stipulation in the bill requiring the maintaining of party membership at 3000, but the figure might change,” He said.

“We were hoping the bill would pass by the end of last year but there came in other bills of higher priority. Many MPs have assured us that when the parliament starts this year, the bill will be given high priority,” he said.

The ousted MDP currently has the largest membership of all political parties with a membership of 47,614 members. The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is the second largest political party in terms of membership with 29,143 members, followed by the newly formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) which has 14,271 members. President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s party has approximately

Current political party membership:

Party membership as of February 27:

MDP 47,614 (Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s party)
DRP 29,143 (Gayoom’s former party, now headed by Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. Speaker Abdulla Shahid is also a member)
AP 6070 (Adhaalath Party, headed by Sheikh Imran. Spokesperson is Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed)
IDP 3597 (Umar Naseer’s former party, prior to his move to the DRP and later PPM)
MSDP 1976
SLP 683
PP 1803
MNC 1536
JP 5177 (Party of Gasim Ibrahim, resort tycoon, VTV television station owner and member of the Judicial Services Commission).
PA 2608 (Party of Gayoom’s haf brother, Abdulla Yameen, and Deputy Speaker Mohamed Nazim)
GI 2625 (President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s party)
MLP 938
DQP 2299 (President’s Special Advisor Dr Hassan Saeed’s party, also the party of Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel)
MRM 2606
PPM 14271 (Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s party, split from the DRP. Vice President of the party is Umar Naseer)


Parliament accepts Political Parties Act and amendments to Tourism Act

Parliament has accepted Political Parties Act and Bill on amending Tourism Act in yesterday’s session, reports Miadhu.

The amendments on the Tourism Act will be deliberated in a committee, while the Political Parties Act has been accepted.

MPs called on the government to increase public funding for political parties, and asked for an increase to the 3000 signatures needed to create a political party.

However, the bill banning the import of alcohol and pork into the country has been rejected, reports Haveeru.

It was rejected by 53 votes, and several MPs argued that both alcohol and pork were essential for the sustainability of the tourism industry.