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12 lawmakers effectively unseated after President ratifies Anti-Defection Bill

Farah Ahmed
14 March 2018, MVT 16:21
Some of the unseated parliamentarians addressing the press: the Parliament on March 13, 2017, ratified the Anti-Defection Bill, effectively removing 12 lawmakers from the parliament. MIHAARU PHOTO / HUSSEN WAHEED
Farah Ahmed
14 March 2018, MVT 16:21

President Abdulla Yameen Wednesday ratified the Anti-Defection Bill, officially removing the 12 lawmakers who were unseated from the parliament July 2017.

The Anti-Defection Bill submitted to the parliament by ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) parliamentary group leader and Villimale MP Ahmed Nihan, was approved with 36-votes in favour during Tuesday’s parliament sitting.

The bill states that if a lawmaker defects or was expelled from the political party they were registered to at the time of election, they will automatically lose their seat in the parliament. Further, the Parliament Committee on Independent Institutions, in its review, had stated that the Anti-Defection Bill would be put into effect retrospectively from July 13, 2017. That was when the Supreme Court first issued its contentious ruling on parliament floor crossing and unseated several MPs.

The Anti-Defection Bill that was gazetted Wednesday also states that, if a political party informs a lawmaker via a letter that their membership from the party has been revoked, they will simultaneously lose their parliament membership.

While the ratification of the Anti-Defection Bill effectively strips 12 lawmakers of their membership in the parliament, the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented ruling February 1, had reinstated these MPs and ordered the release of nine high-profile political prisoners. However, after two justices of the court were arrested under the state of emergency declared February 5, the remaining judges of the court had revoked its previous ruling that reinstated the MPs and freed the political prisoners.

Meanwhile, the opposition insists that the vote was taken in contravention of the law and has appealed the bill at the Supreme Court.

With the approval of the Anti-Defection Bill, 12 lawmakers will lose their seats in the parliament. The MPs to be axed include Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth and Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, Machangolhi South MP Abdulla Sinan, Dhangethi MP Ilham Ahmed, Thinadhoo South MP Abdulla Ahmed, Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Musthafa, and Fuvahmulah North MP Ali Shah.

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