Top court appealed to shoot down by-elections for ‘vacant’ constituencies

Former President Maumoon with top opposition leaders PHOTO:Hussain Waheed/Mihaaru

Former President Maumoon with top opposition leaders PHOTO:Hussain Waheed/Mihaaru

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the joint opposition on Sunday filed at the Supreme Court to overturn the Elections Commission’s decision to hold by-elections for the constituencies of four lawmakers which the latter has declared disqualified from the parliament.

Following a top court ruling on July 13, which stated that any parliamentarian 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 Elections Commission had declared that Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim have been unseated for defecting from ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

However, as the Supreme Court later on July 16 clarified its ruling to state that it cannot be applied retroactively, the four lawmakers had appealed the Elections Commission’s decision at the top court. After a prolonged delay, the court issued an ambiguous verdict in late August, stating that “there is nothing more to decide” regarding the matter, as the court has already in its earlier verdict stipulated the ways in which a lawmaker would be unseated, and that it is also clearly stated in the Maldivian constitution.

As the court had not explicitly stated that the members were disqualified from the parliament, both the government and opposition supporters had celebrated the apex court’s verdict, as they had interpreted it to their favour. While the opposition maintains that the lawmakers retain their seats, the government insists that they have been disqualified, following which the Elections Commission declared its decision to proceed with by-elections for the MPs’ respective constituencies.

In the joint opposition’s case at the top court, it declared that the Elections Commission is carrying on with the by-elections in violation to the apex court’s anti-defection rulings on July 13 and 16, and the independence and basic rights accorded in the Maldivian Constitution. Thus, the opposition requested the top court to annul the Elections Comission’s administrative decision and order the commission to conform to the ruling.

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