Joint Opposition Condemns Deeply Politicised Elections Commission for Banning all Opposition Leaders from Presidential Polls

21 May 2018, MALE: The Joint Opposition condemns the Maldives Elections Commission in the strongest possible terms, after the EC announced that all political leaders, apart from President Yameen, are banned from contesting the presidential elections, due to be held later this year.

The EC — which has been handpicked by President Yameen and is stacked with his cronies —made the announcement yesterday.

The EC went on to threaten political parties, saying that would prevent party primaries from taking place if banned opposition leaders contested. Joint Opposition accused the EC of being “hopelessly politicised” and “little more than a mouthpiece for President Yameen.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has already started his campaign for the MDP primaries, which will be held at the end of May. The Jumhooree Party has announced their candidate for Presidential Election will be Party Leader Hon. Qasim Ibrahim.

The Constitution of the Maldives states that any issues regarding candidacies in presidential elections must be resolved by the full bench of the Supreme Court. On February 1, the full bench of the Supreme Court quashed convictions against political leaders, and also ordered opposition politicians to be released from prison.

President Yameen responded by sending in the military, who abducted the Chief Justice and another Supreme Court justice. The two judges remain in detention, while three remaining justices sit on the bench, under the implicit threat of arrest if they rule against the President’s wishes.

In April, the UN Human Rights Committee stated that the judicial proceedings in which President Nasheed was convicted were based on vague legislation, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial. The Human Rights Committee ordered the Maldives government to restore President Nasheed’s political rights, including his right to seek public office. As a party to the ICCPR, the Maldives government is required under international law to adhere to the HRC’s ruling.