The Elections Commission (EC) has ordered the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to re-register some 23,058 of its members with fingerprinted forms.
The figure amounts to nearly half of the MDP’s 46,608 registered members.
The EC has asked all parties, with the exception of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), to re-register members before December 31. The PPM was formed in late 2011 after the requirement for fingerprints on membership forms came into force the previous year.
The commission said in a statement on Thursday that the 2013 Political Parties Act requires all political parties to submit membership forms with fingerprints.
MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News today that the list of members registered without fingerprints include ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
“The stupidity of this is that Nasheed, a person who is the president of MDP, who went on to becoming the president as the MDP’s candidate is no longer a member of MDP,” he said.
The MDP was registered in 2005 and is the first political party to be formed in the Maldives.
Fahmy contended that the EC’s intention is to reduce the MDP’s membership to allow the PPM to overtake the opposition party. The ruling party has 36,232 members.
“This is another attempt for the government to use another independent commission as a tool to work in favour of the government. It is because we have more members than them,” he said.
Political parties receive funds from the state budget every year. The amount depends on the size of the party membership.
The MP for Maafanu North accused the government of exerting undue influence over independent institutions and the judiciary “to get their way.”
Fahmy previously argued that the commission could not apply the 2013 political parties law retroactively.
“The MDP was formed before the new act. Back then, a fingerprint was not required, so the membership forms are valid,” he said.
He added that the requirement for fingerprints only applies to new membership forms.
“This is a clear obstruction of the people’s constitutional right to join political parties. It creates an unfair burden on political parties and is designed to reduce our numbers,” he added.
EC member Ahmed Akram meanwhile told Sun Online that members who do not submit forms with fingerprints will be removed from the political party registry.
The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), from which the PPM emerged as a splinter faction, has 14,750 members. The Jumhooree Party (JP) has 13,990 members.
The religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) has 9009 members.
The DRP is to resubmit 10,000 forms and the JP 2,764 forms. The AP also has to resubmit some 2,866 forms.
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.