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Anti Defection Act on registered party members elected as independent MPs in Majlis 2024

The newly-ratified Anti-defection Act raises questions around the legitimacy of candidates who were elected in Sunday's parliamentary election as independents despite having their names registered as members of political parties.

Hanaan Hussain
24 April 2024, MVT 13:05
Hanaan Hussain
24 April 2024, MVT 13:05

The Anti-defection Act passed in Maldives' parliament last month has raised questions around the legitimacy of candidates who were elected in Sunday's parliamentary election as independents despite having their names registered with political parties.

Parliamentarians were elected to the 20th People's Majlis from the vote held on Sunday, with 11 out of 93 MP-elects having secured seats after running as independent candidates. Some of these candidates are registered to political parties despite having conducted their campaign as "independents."

Former Vice President of the Elections Commission (EC) Ismail Habeeb expressed his questions regarding whether or not the case was one that would require the members to resign by law.

The Anti-defection Act describes five specific instances in which MPs elected into parliament must resign. One such instance is if the People's Majlis receives notification from EC that a candidate who was elected as an independent has become a member of a political party within the term.

"A candidate contested in the parliamentary elections as an independent candidate. They were elected. They are a member of a political party. However, their election was as an independent candidate. When the Elections Commission shares information with the People's Majlis saying that elected MP is registered to a political party, what happens next?" Ismail Habeeb posed his questions in detail on the social media platform "X" for public consideration.

Habeeb also questioned what would happen if an elected independent candidate, or a candidate elected on the party ticket, were registered to another political party without their knowledge or involvement in any capacity.

"It raises questions in my heart that the Anti-defection Act does not define a course of action regarding what should be done in these two situations mentioned," Habeeb said in his post.

In addition to this, Habeeb said it was questionable whether a member of parliament can resign under the Anti-defection Act per any one of the four conditions mentioned in Article 73 (c) of the Constitution of Maldives.

Conditions described in the Constitution on the disqualification of MPs

1. Having a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgement 2. Having been convicted of a criminal offence and serving a sentence of more than twelve months; 3. Having been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or pardon for the offence for which he was sentenced 4. Being a member of the Judiciary

While the Constitution clearly defines these four conditions to disqualify MPs, some legal professionals have raised questions on the fact that the Anti-defection Act now describes other circumstances leading to the disqualification of membership at parliament. MP for West Henveiru constituency Hassan Latheef has moved a separate bill into parliament with the intention of amending the Constitution to make it so that defection will result in the loss of an MP's seat.

The bill has been accepted to the floor of parliament for its First Reading, but the People's Majlis have yet to come to a decision on how to move forward. Wednesday's sitting of the People's Majlis could not be conducted and was canceled early in the morning as the minimum quorum of 22 members being in attendance was not met.

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