The Edition


Maldives electoral watchdog refuses to release party funds over 'charter violations'

Mohamed Visham
12 October 2016, MVT 15:50
Election commission members meeting top MDP officials.
Mohamed Visham
12 October 2016, MVT 15:50

Maldives' electoral watchdog has withheld political party funds saying that it was unhappy with the way parties are being run at present.

Political parties have complained over the long delay in receiving state funds which was due by March.

In a strongly worded letter, Elections Commission said political parties have continued to violate their respective charters.

The letter pointed out that some political parties have failed to fill vacant leadership posts which was in clear reference main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party.

A recent amendment to the political party Act had effectively stripped MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed and AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla from party leadership.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year but was given asylum in Britain after traveling there for back surgery while Imran was found guilty of terrorism over a speech he gave at the May Day rally and sentenced to 12 years in prison in February.

Imran was accused of inciting violence with the prosecution arguing that he must bear responsibility for the violent clashes.

The amendment states that convicts would not be allowed serve in top party posts as the Elections Commission declared that Nasheed and Imran were no longer party leaders.

The Elections Commission, in its letter had also referred to the rift in the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) saying that "some parties have refused to hold its council."

PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been locked in a bitter power struggle with half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom that has led to deep divisions within the party.

Former president Gayoom had assumed full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down a government proposed amendment to the Tourism Act which sought to bypass the bidding process in island lease for tourism.

Gayoom soon after announced a reform program in a desperate bid to wrestle back control of his party had labelled the amendment as a clear violation of the party’s charter.

The party’s disciplinary committee then had ignored a ban on all party sit-downs imposed by Gayoom to vote out his lawmaker son Faaris Maumoon who had voted against the amendment from the party.

In an unprecedented turn of events, a faction loyal to Yameen had walked out of the last PPM council meeting in protest against the presence of Faaris in the council.

Gayoom had called in the emergency council meeting after a long hiatus in a bid to resolve the rift with his half brother Yameen and push his reform program.

Soon after, two PPM lawmakers in a bid to wrest party control from Gayoom filed a lawsuit last month claiming that Gayoom had hijacked the party by suspending its internal committees and announcing a reform agenda.

The elder Gayoom has since refused to hold a council sit-down demanding an apology for the walkout.

"The commission has been receiving complaints that some parties are refusing to even hold a council meeting," the Elections Commission letter read.