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Maldives seeks to oust lawmakers for shifting parties

Fathmath Shaahunaz
10 July 2017, MVT 16:22
An aerial view of the Maldives Supreme Court in the capital Male. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO
Fathmath Shaahunaz
10 July 2017, MVT 16:22

The state requested the Supreme Court on Monday to rule that any lawmakers who leave their registered political party or join another party would lose their seats in Parliament.

Speaking at the first hearing of the constitutional case filed by Attorney General Mohamed Anil, he requested the top court to interpret Subjects 26, 30, 74 and 75 of the Constitution such that lawmakers will lose their seats should they resign from the parties they were registered to at the time of election or switch to another party.

AG Anil stated that lawmakers are elected to parliament seats with their guarantee to promote the ideology of their registered political party. Thus, shifting loyalty to another party after succeeding the parliament chair is a breach of the social contract between the lawmakers and citizens who voted for them, declared the attorney general.

He proclaimed that members of parliament that shift political parties are prioritising their own interests over that of the people whose rights are being infringed. AG Anil went on to say that such actions would also obstruct the nation’s independence and sovereignty, as there are higher chances of external influence on whimsical parliamentarians that switch sides. He urged haste action against the issue.

The attorney general further declared that lawmakers switching to other political parties, against the ideology of citizens that voted for them, also violates the objectives of the Constitution which state that the Powers begin and are maintained by the people.

However, the Constitution of the Maldives does not list any points regarding political parties under the conditions which would remove a parliamentarian from position.

This constitutional case has been filed by the government in the wake of a motion of no confidence filed by the joint opposition against the parliament speaker. Ten lawmakers of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) signed the opposition’s resolution, out of which eight members have since resigned from the ruling party.

Making his case, AG Anil pointed out that lawmakers losing their seats upon shifting political parties is also practised in other countries, citing India, Singapore, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom as examples.

Furthermore, he highlighted several anti-government actions conducted by the opposition over the past three years, such as the mass opposition rally held May 2015, the blast aboard the presidential speedboard which was an assassination attempt on President Abdulla Yameen, and forging a court warrant to arrest the president.

He additionally proclaimed that bribery was involved among lawmakers to seek support for the joint opposition’s recent motion of no confidence against Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh. Such acts hinder the democracy and sovereignty of the Maldives, he said.

The case is filed as an ex parte motion without a defendant and is presided by the Supreme Court’s Judges Bench comprising Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Judge Adam Mohamed and Judge Ahmed Abdulla Didi.

The judges ended the first hearing Monday without announcing a date for the next. The court also did not disclose whether it has decided to hold a second hearing or to cut immediately to sentencing.

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