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Parliament passes new conditions for presidential candidates

Shaina Abdulla
04 July 2018, MVT 19:05
R to L: Former president Mohamed Nasheed and Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim
Shaina Abdulla
04 July 2018, MVT 19:05

Parliament, on Wednesday, passed the proposed amendment to bar citizens who have sought political asylum or dual citizenship from running for presidency, for a period of 10 years.

The amendment was passed unanimously by all 34 lawmakers present at the sitting.

Opposition has been boycotting parliamentary sittings after it was resumed for the second session. Thus, all 34 lawmakers were of ruling coalition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

The amendment proposed by PPM parliamentary group (PG) leader and Villimale MP Ahmed Nihan, conditions candidates in the run for presidency to have a 10-year gap following dual citizenship, in order to contest in the presidential elections.

Article 109 of the Constitution states that a candidate running for presidency must be a Maldivian citizen born to parents who are Maldivian citizens, and is also not a citizen of a foreign country. However, the Constitution does not state a fixed period to give up citizenship in a foreign country prior to the candidacy run.

Nihan had declared that the amendment was proposed to maintain sovereignty in the country and to ensure that no foreign countries can influence the Maldives.

The passing of the amendment will bar two opposition leaders from contesting in the run for presidency.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed currently lives in self-exile in the UK after he was sentenced to 13 years in prison over terrorism charges.

Opposition coalition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim also lives in self-exile in Germany after he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to over three-years jail time last year.

During Wednesday's sitting, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Maseeh revealed that despite repeated requests, opposition lawmakers have refused to attend sittings to vote on the necessary proposed amendments to the country's Constitution ahead of the presidential elections.

Other key proposed amendments included recommendations to the Elections Commission (EC) and the General Elections Act by the Supreme Court during the previous presidential elections.

Parliament also passed the amendment to prohibit scribbling or drawing on ballot papers besides the check mark next to the name of a candidate, and a second amendment to raise the presidential candidacy deposit fee from MVR 40,000 to MVR 100,000.

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