Ruling coalition lobbies anti-defection bill to oust floor-crossing MPs

Lawmakers pictured during a parliament session. PHOTO/MAJLIS

Lawmakers pictured during a parliament session. PHOTO/MAJLIS

The ruling coalition on Monday submitted a bill on anti-defection to the parliament, seeking to expel lawmakers for floor-crossing.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nihan, announced in a tweet that members of PPM and its coalition partner, Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), collectively made the decision to lobby the bill. Nihan had submitted the bill on behalf of the coalition.

Should the act be passed, lawmakers that resign or are expelled from the party they were registered to at the time of election, or shift to another political party, would be unseated from the parliament. The bill further seeks to implement regulations to hold by-elections for chairs vacated under such circumstances.

Further details of the bill were not disclosed.

The Supreme Court was the first institution to decide on expelling parliamentarians for floor-crossing, in a controversial ruling last year July. The verdict was issued after the state filed a constitutional case at the apex court, and the Elections Commission had subsequently disqualified 12 legislators formerly of PPM.

After the EC’s decision, the Supreme Court had issued a landmark ruling at the beginning of this month, ordering to reinstate the 12 unseated lawmakers along with freeing political prisoners. In the wake of the ruling, the government had declared a state of emergency and arrested two justices of the Supreme Court, accusing them of accepting bribes to attempt a coup via the court.

Following the arrests, the remaining three judges had revoked the verdict to free the political prisoners. The state had filed another constitutional case, seeking to annul the ruling on reinstating the parliamentarians as well. Consequently, the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay order on reinstating the MPs until the court reaches a verdict.

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