Democracy Week rescheduled for February

Democracy Week rescheduled for February
January 24 16:58 2016

The Elections Commission is preparing to mark ‘Democracy Week’ in February, after having postponed the celebration due to the September 28 blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat last year.

Elections Commissioner Ahmed Akram told the press that the activities will kick off on February 14 with a blood donation drive in Malé, followed by democracy education sessions for secondary school students and a forum on discussing women’s role in politics.

A door-to-door campaign, a football match, a special school assembly and democracy education for school children will take place on the northern island of Hoarafushi in Haa Alif atoll.

The Friday sermon that week will be dedicated to Democracy and Islam, Akram added.

“We want people to be aware that true democracy and its principles and values came from Islam,” he said.

The Democracy Week activities will conclude on February 20 and will see debate, poster and essay competitions, quizzes, beach sports and a family evening.

Although MVR1.6 million has been allocated for the week-long festival, Akram said only MVR500,000 will be used from the state budget with the rest to be made up from sponsors and partners.

Akram also addressed the controversy over the EC’s requirement for political parties to re-register members who had submitted membership forms without fingerprints.

The commission has not changed its stance, but would respect the outcome of an ongoing court case, he said.

Commissioner Mohamed Shakeel said today that the EC is still processing forms submitted before December 31 deadline, after which any members without fingerprinted forms will be removed from the party’s registry.

Fingerprinted forms was a requirement introduced by a regulation in 2010 and by law in the 2013 Political Parties Act.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party – the largest party in the country by membership numbers – was required to re-register nearly half of its 48,000 members before December 31.

The MDP has also been at loggerheads with the EC since the appointment of new members to the independent body by the ruling party-dominated parliament last year. In early December, the EC fined the MDP by MVR75,000 over both the use of the UN emblem and the alleged involvement of children in a street protest.

In November, the MDP and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, both formed before the 2013 political parties law, sued the EC at the civil court over the membership forms dispute.

However, the civil court refused to grant an injuction halting the de-registration process. The parties have since appealed the decision at the High Court.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil had reportedly advised the EC that it cannot de-register members as the Political Parties Act does not state that its provisions will apply to members who joined before the law came into force, according to popular daily Haveeru.

Akram had previously declined to comment on the AG’s legal advice.

Political parties receive funding from the state based on the number of members.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, formed in 2011, was not required to re-register members as all of its membership forms had fingerprints.

The PPM, which emerged as a splinter faction from DRP, has 36,232 members. The DRP has 14,750 members, and the Jumhooree Party has 13,990 members.

If the MDP is unable to re-register 23,000 members, the PPM will become the largest political party in the Maldives.

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has 9,009 members, but has submitted an additional 1,000 forms in early November.

While the DRP has to re-register 10,000 members, the Adhaalath Party and JP have to re-register 2,866 members and 2,764 members, respectively.