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Coalition lawmaker asked to withdraw bill to bar Nasheed’s candidacy

JP MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed proposed amending the criteria for parliamentary candidates.



Jumhooree Party MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed has been asked to withdraw a bill he submitted Monday to bar former presidents from running for parliament.

The MP for Dhidhdhoo was asked to withdraw the bill as it was submitted without consulting the party and because it restricts a fundamental right of former president Mohamed Nasheed, JP parliamentary group leader Abdulla Riyaz tweeted Tuesday morning.

The JP is part of the ruling coalition along with the Maldivian Democratic Party led by Nasheed, who is planning to contest in the April 6 parliamentary elections for the newly-created mid-Machchangoalhi constituency in the capital Malé.

Former president Abdulla Yameen is also mulling a return to the People’s Majlis.

Latheef proposed amending the criteria for parliamentary candidates in the Majlis Elections Act.

It was not fitting for someone who has served as president to seek a lesser office, he told Mihaaru.

“Even the constitution does not give too much room for it. They are given a lot of security and benefits so that they can remain prestigious,” he was quoted as saying.

Latheef also questioned the motive of former presidents who seek parliamentary seats. It takes away equal opportunity for other candidates, he argued.

Coalition lawmakers and ministers, including senior JP members, promptly condemned Latheef’s bill when the news broke Monday night.

Prominent lawyers called the bill “unconstitutional” as the qualifications for parliamentary candidates are specified in the constitution, which also guarantees the right to run for office. 

“Article 73 of constitution lists the requirements of running for parliament. A law to add to these requirements is unconstitutional. Majlis must not accept such a bill,” tweeted lawyer Mahfooz Saeed.

“The constitution does not set such a limit & there is no way an intrinsic constitutional right to contest for parliament can be taken away via statutory laws,” Mariyam Shunana said.

Latheef was among 12 lawmakers who were deemed to have lost their seats when they defected from the former ruling party  during Yameen’s presidency.

He joined the JP after the coalition’s victory in September’s presidential election.

Latheef was recently an honorary guest at the inaugural meeting of the Maldives Third-Wave Democrats, a new party formed by jailed former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.

The MDP meanwhile called a press conference Tuesday afternoon to condemn the bill and dismissed Latheef’s insistence that it was not intended to scuttle Nasheed’s candidacy.

“We don’t believe this bill can or will be accepted by parliament. We find it concerning that such a bill was submitted by a member belonging to the coalition,” said chairman Hassan Latheef.