President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has claimed responsibility for the disqualification of 13 lawmakers removed from their seats in parliament over floor crossing.
President Yameen’s claim, during a campaign trip to Thinadhoo, Gaafu Dhaal Atoll, came amidst allegations by the disqualified MPs that the Elections Commission (EC)’s decision to remove the lawmakers from their seats were unconstitutional.
Whilst President Yameen has stated that he put in the most effort in disqualifying the lawmakers, the Supreme Court is yet to accept the appeal case filed over a year ago by the unseated MPs.
The president had earlier stated that ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was weakened after the lawmakers defected to opposition parties last year.
“The disqualification of the defected lawmakers has made the pro-government lawmakers a stronger and more loyal team”, stated President Yameen.
He claimed that he was sure the defected lawmakers were offered bribes by members of the opposition in order to defect and join the opposition parties.
The president also criticized lawmaker of Thinadhoo North constituency, Saudulla Hilmy, stating that the lawmaker must “hand over the island to President Yameen and step off” as the development brought to Thinadhoo during the current regime is “evident in every 10 metres”. He further commented on Saudulla’s defection to the opposition stating that the Thinadhoo North MP had been among recent members of the ruling party to praise the developments achieved during President Yameen’s regime at public events.
The lawmakers who were disqualified from parliament by the Elections Commission are Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth, Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef, Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla, Machangolhi South MP Abdulla Sinan, Dhangethi MP Ilham Ahmed, Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Musthafa, Thinadhoo North MP Saudulla Hilmy, Thinadhoo South MP Abdulla Ahmed and Fuvahmulah North MP Ali Shah.
The parliament had earlier passed an Anti-Defection Bill, effectively unseating 12 lawmakers from the parliament. The bill states that if a lawmaker defects or was expelled from the political party they were registered to at the time of the 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 ratification of the bill also stripped EC of the authority to draft regulations to put the bill in effect. The Anti-Defection Bill further 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.