The Elections Commission has rejected applications filed early April to form two new political parties.
The ‘Maldivian Republican Party’ could not be registered because its name was too similar to the Jumhoree Party (translated as Republican Party), the EC said in a statement on Sunday, citing requirements under political party regulations.
The founder of the proposed ‘Great Green Connection’ was a member of an existing party and failed to submit police records with its application on April 1.
No further details were disclosed.
The five-member electoral body, now led by a loyalist of President Abdulla Yameen, came under heavy fire at an opposition press conference later on Sunday.
The allied opposition parties condemned legal changes proposed by the commission to seek new powers for regulating and monitoring parties.
The EC wants to supervise internal primaries, council meetings and rallies, new president Ahmed Shareef announced last week, dismissing criticism that its aim was to “put a lock” on parties.
But the existing legal framework does not envision parties needing EC permission to hold rallies or events such as panel discussions, Anas Abdul Sattar, secretary-general of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, told the press.
Echoing criticism of the EC’s lack of independence, Jumhoree Party secretary-general Ahmed Sameer declared that the current members of the commission cannot conduct free and fair presidential polls this year.
Since new members were appointed in 2014, the opposition says the commission has “acted as a de-facto rubber stamp for President Yameen in a number of politically motivated, illegal and unconstitutional actions,” including the contentious disqualification of 12 former ruling party lawmakers.
Six political parties are presently active in the Maldives, including the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives and allies Maldives Development Alliance and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party.
The joint opposition is comprised of the MDP, JP and religious conservative Adhaalath Party.