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Elections commission to release funds owed to political parties

The commission has requested the finance ministry to distribute MVR23million (US$1.5million) among four of the six political parties



The elections commission is set to release funds owed to political parties, with the ruling Progressive Party allocated nearly half of the total amount after the commission reduced the membership of opposition parties.

The commission has requested the finance ministry to distribute MVR23million (US$1.5million) among four of the six political parties.

MVR268.26 (US$17) is to be disbursed per member

The PPM, with 37,633 members, is to receive MVR10million (US$648,508).

The funds will be released to the faction of the party led by President Abdulla Yameen. The ruling party is embroiled in a civil war, with Yameen and his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom administering rival factions.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, which lost nearly half of its membership with the retroactive application of a law requiring fingerprint records for political party membership, is to receive MVR7,459,064 (US$483,726).

The party, previously the biggest political party in the country, now has 27,805 members, down from 46,608 earlier.

The commission also said it will deduct MVR50,000 (US$3,242) as a fine for the late submission of an annual audit report and another MVR75,000 (US$4864) as a fine for violating the Political Parties Act, allegedly during an anti-government protest in November 2015.

After the deduction, MDP will receive MVR7,334,064 (US$475,555).

The Jumhooree Party, which recently allied with the Gayoom faction of the PPM is to receive MVR2,947,946 (US$191,177), while Yameen’s ally, the Maldives Development Alliance is allocated MVR2,839,299 (US$184,130).

The Adhaalath Party, with some 9000 members, and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party with some 3000 members will not receive public funding, as a party is required to have 10,000 members to be eligible for public money.

Earlier in October, the commission withheld funding, citing what it called a leadership vacuum in some parties and mismanagement in others in postponing the release of funds allocated for political parties in the state budget.

The Gayoom faction of the PPM, the MDP, the JP and the AP, issued an unprecedented joint statement, accusing the national electoral body of putting the Maldives’ multi-party system at risk.

Funding has been delayed by several months this year.

Although the Political Parties Act requires the election commission to distribute some 0.2percent of the annual state within the first three months of the year, the commission delayed releasing funds, blaming a lawsuit brought against it by the MDP and the DRP over a 2015 order requiring fingerprint records to be counted as a political party members.

The two parties were registered in 2005 and the requirement for fingerprints was only introduced by a regulation in 2010 and by law in 2013.

The PPM, which emerged as a breakaway faction of the DRP in 2011, was not affected by the order.

The MDP and the DRP argued that the requirement cannot be applied retroactively, a view the attorney general has supported.

Nine months after the court battle began, the PPM dominated parliament approved an amendment to the Political Parties Act, requiring all members submit fingerprinted membership forms within 30 days or be taken off the party registries.

The civil court, citing the law, rejected the lawsuit filed by the MDP and the DRP.