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State funds released to indebted opposition party

The funds were withheld over a leadership dispute.



State funding owed to the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives has been released after a lawsuit was filed over the year-long delay.

Some MVR8.6 million (US$557,700) was disbursed last week, a finance ministry official confirmed.

It was owed from MVR11 million allocated from the 2018 state budget. The funds were withheld after the Supreme Court was petitioned to resolve a leadership dispute between former presidents Abdulla Yameen and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The Elections Commission asked the finance ministry to release the funds after the apex court ruled in favour of Yameen in late January. 

Two weeks ago, the PPM sought a civil court order to release the funds, blaming the delay for the failure to settle debts incurred during last year’s presidential election campaign. The party has reportedly been unable to pay phone bills, leading to disconnection of service.

In October last year, the state-owned Island Aviation Services sought to recover MVR4.8 million (US$311,284) owed by the PPM for flights chartered to bring supporters to the capital for a mass rally.

The lack of funds also restricted the party’s campaigning for the April 6 parliamentary polls, outgoing majority leader Ahmed Nihan told the Maldives Independent in the wake of the ruling party’s landslide victory.

In the wake of the heavy electoral defeats, the PPM is in the midst of regrouping under a new leadership.

Several top leadership figures from the PPM have recently switched to the People’s National Congress, a new party formed by Yameen loyalists in anticipation of an unfavourable ruling over the leadership dispute.

The Political Parties Act requires the EC to distribute some 0.2 percent of the annual state budget within the first three months of the year. The funds are allocated based on membership figures and parties must have more than 10,000 members to be eligible.