The delay in holding by-elections for the six disputed constituencies of the parliament is caused by complications in securing funds from the state budget, Mihaaru has found out.
Following a contentious ruling by the Supreme Court on anti-defection, the Elections Commission had declared six lawmakers formerly of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) disqualified from the parliament. The unseated parliamentarians are Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth and Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, Machangolhi South MP Abdulla Sinan and Dhangethi MP Ilham Ahmed.
The apex court had issued a verdict on July 13, stating that any member that resigns or is expelled from the political party they were registered to at the time of election, or shifts to another party, will lose their seat in the parliament. The court had clarified its ruling later and held that the ruling cannot be applied retroactively.
Despite four of the MPs contesting the EC’s decision saying that they had left PPM before the top court’s verdict, the EC maintains that they have lost their seats and had declared that it is preparing to hold by-elections for the six constituencies. However, the commission has yet to announce any official dates for the by-elections, despite having passed the lawful deadline.
Mihaaru understands that, according to EC’s estimation, by-elections for the six constituencies would have an expense of up to MVR 12 million, which is not in EC’s budget. While the commission has requested support from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Mihaaru has found out that the ministry is also facing difficulties in securing the funds.
Finance Ministry’s Director Ahmed Aiman stated Wednesday that the ministry has responded to the EC’s letter of request but did not divulge any details.
The Constitution of the Maldives states, under Section 78, that new members must be elected for vacated seats of parliament within 60 days. The Supreme Court’s verdict on anti-defection also refers to this clause.
The Parliamentary Elections Act also stipulates, under Section 5 (b), that by-election must be announced within five days of a seat being vacated.