Two major political parties in the Maldives have lodged a complaint with the civil court over an Elections Commission order requiring re-registration of members with new fingerprinted forms.
Fingerprinted forms was a requirement introduced in a regulation in 2010 and by law in the 2013 Political Parties Act. The EC has ordered all parties to re-submit forms for members who had not submitted fingerprints by the end of the year. If not, the members will be taken off the party registry, the commission has warned.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party is now required to re-register nearly half of its 48,000 members.
Today’s complaint was lodged by the MDP and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party.
“We are filing a case against the Elections Commission, requesting the civil court to rule that the commission’s decision is illegal,” said Anas Abdul Sattar, the MDP secretary general.
The Political Parties Act cannot be applied retroactively, he added.
Political parties receive funding from the state based on the number of members.
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, formed in 2011, is not required to re-register members as all of its membership forms held fingerprints.
DRP’s Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said: “Lawyers are telling us that such decisions, applying the law retroactively, are not made in any country… Because of this, people who have been members of our parties for the past eight years will no longer be members.”
The MDP was the first political party to register in 2005, followed by the DRP.
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.
The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has 9009 members, but has submitted an additional 1000 forms last week.
Nasheed said he hoped that both the Adhaalath Party and Jumhooree Party would intervene in the case.
“We think that the Adhaalath party will intervene in this case and we have unofficially been notified that the Jumhooree Party has also expressed interest in joining this case. Their council have not been able to come to a decision yet. We believe that all the parties together, we can find a solution for this problem within the law.”
The EC has previously said it receives complaints from the public about being registered to political parties without their knowledge or consent.
The commission has set up mechanisms to check party registration either through text messages or on the official website.
A text message sent to 1414 with PPR space followed by the national ID card number would show if the person is registered to a political party. Alternately, the EC website has an online database to check party registration by entering the ID card number.
The EC in 2014 fined the PPM, MDP, JP, Adhaalath Party and DRP for submitting fraudulent membership forms.
The commission in September 2014 fined the Jumhooree Party for a ninth time after it discovered repeated fingerprints by 36 people on some 258 new membership forms.
The PPM was also fined in March 2014, after it emerged that the ruling party had submitted forms on behalf of a dead man.
The Anti Corruption Commission in 2012 interviewed 100 members of then-President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) and alleged 85 percent of those polled had no knowledge of ever joining the party.