Election body set to obey Supreme Court ruling on lawmakers

Election body set to obey Supreme Court ruling on lawmakers
February 11 19:14 2018

There will be no by-elections for 12 constituencies, the Elections Commission said Sunday, as it appeared to obey a Supreme Court ruling to reinstate lawmakers who were stripped of their seats.

The constituencies are those where lawmakers lost their seats after being expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

A Supreme Court verdict on February 1 ordered their reinstatement, giving the opposition a majority in parliament.

When asked if the EC was preparing to hold by-elections for the 12 seats, commission member Ahmed Akram told the Maldives Independent: “There has been a Supreme Court ruling after that. So we are not working on a by-election right now.”

Akram refused to answer further questions and directed queries to the EC’s vice president Amjad Musthafa, who is the body’s acting chief after its president Ahmed Sulaiman resigned in late January.

Yameen has openly defied the top court’s order to release nine political prisoners, eventually amending it after declaring a state of emergency and arresting two top judges, but the parts of the order relating to the reinstatement of MPs are untouched.

Two of the 12 MPs were wanted by police. One, Abdulla Sinan, was arrested again after being released. The second, Ilham Ahmed, turned himself over to police Monday.

With four politicians unable to vote – Sinan, Faris Maumoon, Ahmed and Gasim Ibrahim – the opposition has 40 parliament members. The ruling party coalition also has 40 members and parliament comprises 85 lawmakers. The speaker is the tie-breaker and is with the ruling party.

But parliamentary proceedings have been indefinitely delayed after the first session of the year was cancelled for security reasons, days after the Supreme Court ruling was issued.

Last Sunday, the secretary general of parliament resigned and opposition MPs filed no-confidence motions against four cabinet members. The first session was scheduled to take place on February 5.