Desperate govt asks top court to disqualify rebel MPs

Government on Monday made a last ditch attempt to stop bleeding lawmakers from the ruling party by filing a constitutional case asking the Supreme Court to disqualify MPs who defect or violate party whip-lines.

Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil who submitted the case argued that lawmakers who get elected on political party tickets make a promise to the people to uphold the belief, ideologies and policies of a particular political party.

So lawmakers do not have the right to switch parties or go against the party he or she represents which would be a violation of the rights of his or her voters, the AG argued.

The state has asked the country's top court to disqualify MPs elected on a particular party's ticket if he or she goes against the party's ideologies, quitting the party and or switching to another political party.

The case requires the Supreme Court to interpret four articles of the country's constitution.

  • Article 26(c): Unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, every citizen of the Maldives eighteen years of age or older has the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  • Article 30(a): Every citizen has the right to establish and to participate in the activities of political parties.
  • Article 74: 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.
  • Article 75: Members of the People’s Majlis should be guided in their actions by considerations of national interest and public welfare foremost, and should not exploit their official positions in any way for their own benefit or for the benefit of those with whom they have special relations. They shall represent not only their constituencies but the country as a whole.

The AG also said the lack of an anti-defection law paved the way for undue influence of lawmakers and the parliament which was a grave threat to the constitutionally elected government.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has slid into chaos after 10 lawmakers backed an opposition led censure motion to unseat the parliament speaker.

After the now opposition coalition in March had filed a second motion to unseat speaker Abdulla Maseeh, the government had engineered an amendment to the parliament rules of procedure raising the number of lawmaker signatures required to file a censure motion against the speaker and his deputy from 15 to 42.

The opposition had filed the third censure motion against Maseeh with 45 lawmakers which included ten lawmakers from the ruling party.

As many as four lawmakers who had signed the motion have since left the party while five MPs quit on Monday soon after the AG filed the constitutional case.