Revised law strips Nasheed of MDP’s presidency

MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives have passed a law which will effectively strip former president Mohamed Nasheed of the presidency of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The amendment to the Prisons and Parole Act was passed today with 40 votes and prohibits inmates from holding high level posts in political parties.

Nasheed, who co-founded the MDP, will lose his party presidency because of a terrorism conviction last month relating to the detention of a judge during his period in power.

He was jailed for 13 years after the Criminal Court found him guilty of terrorism in a case his party says represented a politically-led campaign against him by the government of President Abdulla Yameen.

The bill was previously passed by the People’s Majlis on March 30. However, president Yameen vetoed it as the original proposal prohibited all prisoners from holding membership in political parties and non governmental organisations.

The Attorney General’s Office has reportedly said the original amendment infringes on the constitutional right to freedom of association.

The law was passed amid protests by opposition MPs, who had draped a large yellow banner behind the speaker’s desk calling for Nasheed’s release.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla told Minivan News today that the new law is proof the “government is using its majority in parliament to amend laws specifically targeting President Nasheed.” 

“They have done all but name him in this new amendment. It shows just how personal and political the arrest and sentencing of President Nasheed is,” she said.

Ruling coalition MPs also revised the Majlis regulations yesterday, preventing any MPs who protest inside the Majlis from receiving a MVR20,000 (US$1,290) allowance.

Opposition MPs have been disrupting parliamentary sittings since the Majlis reconvened this year on March 2 over Nasheed’s arrest and alleged constitutional breaches by the government.