The Elections Commission is processing membership forms submitted ahead of a December 31 deadline from members who joined political parties without submitting fingerprinted forms.
The EC had ordered all parties to re-register members without fingerprints by the end of the year. Fingerprinted forms was a requirement introduced by the 2013 Political Parties Act.
“We are trying to process the forms sent in December by the end of January. We will be de-registering any membership form without fingerprints after that,” commission member Ahmed Akram told The Maldives Independent today.
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 party’s founding members, including imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed, were also required to resubmit membership forms.
MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz said the party is trying to collect new membership forms from all 23,000 members who would be taken off the party’s registry.
“But our members do not think re-registering is necessary. Members are very unhappy with the commission itself and believe their order is completely unlawful,” he said.
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.
Akram declined to comment on the AG’s legal advice, but said that the commission will abide by any ruling from the court.
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.