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Maldives opposition membership cut in half over fingerprint

Fathmath Shaahunaz
25 October 2016, MVT 14:17
MDP council members pictured during the party's national council sit-down. PHOTO/MDP
Fathmath Shaahunaz
25 October 2016, MVT 14:17

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) lost half of its members Tuesday with the implementation of Elections Commission’s motion to remove members who did not submit their fingerprints to register in political parties.

The Elections Commission had provided a deadline until October 12 for members of political parties, who had registered before the Political Parties Act came into effect, to submit their fingerprints. The commission had removed all members that failed to meet the deadline and published the new registers for political parties on Sunday.

Whereas all parties had suffered losses, the new party registers show that MDP has the highest drop in numbers. Previously the largest party in the Maldives, MDP’s numbers dropped from 46,608 members recorded by the end of February to 27,805. Elections Commission removed 18,803 members who did not submit fingerprints for registration.

The second greatest drop in numbers was in Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), which was founded by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. DRP’s numbers went down from 14,750 to 3,966.

Religiously conservative Adhaalath Party went down from 9,009 to 7,595 members, while government aligned Jumhooree Party lost 3000 members and went down to 10,989.

Meanwhile, the register shows that the number of members has increased by 1,401 in ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), spiking from 36,232 to 37,633 members. Moreover, the government coalition Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) also went up to 10,639 with 55 more members.

The Political Parties Act first came into effect in 2013, though it did not stipulate then for members, who had registered prior to the Act, to submit their fingerprints for registration. The Elections Commissions had made the amendment to the Act last year, stating that members without fingerprint registration will be removed from the parties.

MDP had also filed against the Election Commission’s amendment at the lower court, but the court had ruled in the latter’s favour.

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