EC reinstates dissolved political parties as per SC order

The Elections Commission (EC) has reinstated eight small political parties on the Supreme Court’s advice.

The commission had dissolved the eight parties in February as they did not have a membership of 3,000 as required by a Supreme Court modification of the Political Party Act.

However, the Supreme Court subsequently sacked Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz for disobedience to order and contempt of court.

The EC sought the apex court’s advice and following a letter on June 12, the EC has now decided to reinstate the Islamic Democratic Party, Maldivian Social Democratic Party, Social Liberal Party, People’s Party, Maldivian National Congress, People’s Alliance, Maldivian Labor Party and Dhivehi Qaumee Party.

The number of registered political parties in Maldives now stands at fourteen.

Political Parties Act

The People’s Majlis passed the Political Parties Act in December 2012. Article 11 of the act required a minimum of 10,000 members requests for party registration, while Article 8 (b) gave parties with less than 10,000 members a three month period to increase membership or face dissolution.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan – whose own Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) was facing dissolution – refused to ratify the bill. But on March 5 2013, with unanimous support from both parliament’s minority leader and majority leader, the Majlis overruled the presidential veto and forced the the bill  into law.

In the same month the Elections commission dissolved eleven registered political parties under the Act.

Within days Attorney General Azima Shakoor asked the Supreme Court to declare existing smaller political parties could not be dissolved. The Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) also intervened in the case.

In September 2013, the SC voided articles 11 and 8 (b) of the Political Parties Act, declaring them to be in violation of Article 16 of the constitution which states that the People’s Majlis can only limit constitutional rights through legislation to an extent “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

The SC claimed the Political Party Act narrowed the constitutional right to establish political parties and participate in political party activity.

The verdict, supported by the entire Supreme Court bench, also declared 3,000 members to be the minimum requirement for political party registration as per the political party regulation of 2005, until the parliament amended the Political Party Act in accordance with guidelines provided in the ruling.

In December 2013 Gaumee Ithihadh Party of former president Dr. Mohame Waheed and Maldives Reform Movement founded by former Attorney General and President of MDP Dr Mohamed Munavvar was voluntarily dissolved, leaving the number of parties in transition at nine.

February dissolution

On February 6, the Elections Commission dissolved eight political parties for not having a minimum of 3000 registered members and gave them a three month period to increase membership. The MDA with approximately eight thousand members survived the dissolution.

In the same month, the SC initiated a contempt of court charge against the EC under new suo moto regulations which allow the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings, prosecute and pass judgement. The five member bench accused the EC of disobeying orders in dissolving the eight parties.

SC reached a verdict in March 2014, stripping Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz Hassan of their membership in the commission and sentencing the former to a suspended prison term of six months.

In the controversial verdictSC stated dissolving parties on the basis that a political party’s registry should include 3,000 members is be a violation of the constitution and the court’s previous verdict.


EC fines MDA for failing to hold a national congress

The Elections Commission has fined the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MVR30,000 for failing to hold the party’s national congress within the legally prescribed period.

The Political Parties Act states that such a congress should be held within nine months of registration. The MDA – lead by businessman and parliament member Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam – was registered on 20 December, 2012. The fine has to be paid within fifteen days.

The MDA is a member of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) governing coalition. It currently has two members in the parliament and will be running for seven seats in the upcoming parliamentary election.


Ten political parties to be dissolved

The Elections Commission (EC) is to dissolve ten political parties in February after eight of the ten failed to increase party membership to 3,000 members.

Councils of two of the ten parties – the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) and the Gaumee Iththihaad Party (GIP) – had voted to voluntarily disband in December.

The Supreme Court in September 2013 struck down Article 11 of the Political Party Act which stipulates a 10,000 member minimum for party registration. Local media at the time reported that minimum party membership would fall to 3000 as per the previous political party regulation.

None of the ten parties fulfill the 3000 member minimum.

The eight to be dissolved are: the People’s Alliance (PA), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), the Maldivian Labor Party, the Social Liberal Party, People’s Party, Maldivian National Congress (MNC), and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Social Democratic Party.

The EC has asked the ten parties to inform the commission of plans for any debt or assets before February 7.

EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz said that while the Supreme Court had annulled Article 11, Article 27 which requires the commission to give a three month notice to increase membership to 10,000 members still stood.

“We sent a letter to parties with membership below 10,000 to increase their members. But these parties are not being dissolved because they do not have 10,000. It is because they do not have the 3000 member minimum,” Fayaz explained.

The Maldives will have six political parties after the ten are dissolved. They are ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and its coalition partners – the Jumhooree Party (JP), the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), Adhaalath Party, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Among the six, only MDA has membership below 10,000. According to the EC website, MDA currently has 7537 members.

President Abdulla Yameen set up the People’s Alliance (PA) in 2008 following a disagreement with half-brother and then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Yameen resigned from the party and joined Gayoom’s new PPM in 2011.

Gayoom’s Attorney General Hassan Latheef set up the DQP in 2008. The party backed Yameen during the second round of 2013 presidential polls after it’s coalition partner JP failed to make the run-off.

Current Home Minister Umar Naseer set up the IDP in 2005, but defected from his own party to join the DRP in 2010.

MP ‘Redwave’ Ahmed Saleem established the Maldivian Labor Party in 2008.  Finally, the Social Liberal Party was a splinter from the MDP – founded by former MP Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail in 2008.