Joint Opposition Statement: Elections Commission Strips 3 More MPs of their Seats; Joint Opposition Calls on EC to Follow Legal Mandate or Face Prosecution

31 October, Male’: The Elections Commission of the Maldives has removed three more MPs of their seats, in another egregiously partisan move designed to please President Yameen.

The EC’s actions comes after the three MPs defied the ruling party’s whip line and refused to vote on the Government’s Supplementary Budget, which was presented to Parliament last week.

The MPs — Mohamed Musthafa, Saudhulla Hilmy and Ali Shah — were among several MPs who left the ruling party in early July, after backing the impeachment motion against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, a crony of President Yameen. The PPM therefore has no role in ‘expelling’ the MPs from the party, nearly four months after they had quit the party of their own volition.

The en masse defection of PPM MPs in July handed the opposition a clear parliamentary majority. But the EC, working on the instruction of President Yameen, has illegally stripped MPs of their seats in order to reimpose President Yameen’s autocratic grip on the Parliament.

The Elections Commission is acting beyond its lawful and Constitutional mandate. Article 74 of the Constitution is very clear on the removal of MPs, stating: “any question concerning the qualifications or removal, or vacating of seats, of a member of the People’s Majlis shall be determined by the Supreme Court.”

There is no law that mandates the Elections Commission to decide or announce whether MPs have been stripped of their seats. In removing the MPs, the EC is also retroactively applying the 13th July Supreme Court anti-defection verdict.

The three MPs are the third batch of defecting MPs to be removed by the EC. Since the submission of the no confidence motion, the EC has unconstitutionally removed 10 of the 15 MPs from their seats.

The EC has acted as a de-facto rubber stamp for President Yameen in a number of politically motivated, illegal and unconstitutional actions in recent years. The President of the Commission, Ahmed Sulaiman, is a long- term political ally of President Yameen’s.

The Joint Opposition reminds each and every member of the EC to observe their lawful mandate and to serve the Maldivian Constitution. We remind the Commissioners that the country is 11 months away from a milestone Presidential election, and they must remain within their legal boundaries or face prosecution for their unlawful activities.