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AG under fire over anti-defection move

Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil on Wednesday came under heavy criticism from the opposition over the move to ask the Supreme Court to disqualify MPs who defect or violate party whip-lines.

The embattled government turned to the country's top court in a last ditch attempt to arrest the slide amid fresh political strife in the archipelago.

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.

Central-Hithadhoo MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi accused the AG of trying to dissolve the parliament by unconstitutionally disqualifying two thirds of the total 85 lawmakers.

"There was no problem when one party which started with around 32 members climbed to 45. But today when that party is bleeding members, the AG is trying to push through an anti-defection move," opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim questioned Anil's motives.

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.

More lawmakers scrambled to leave the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on Monday as the government in a desperate attempt to reverse the slide turned to the country's top court to disqualify rebel MPs.

As the AG was filing the constitutional case, Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla, Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Musthafa and South-Thinadhoo MP Abdulla Mohamed officially asked to leave the party to join south-Machchangoalhi MP Abdulla Sinan, Villingili MP Saud Hussain and North-Thinadhoo MP Saudulla Hilmy to quit the party on Monday.

Dhihdhoo lawmaker Abdul Latheef Mohamed and Hanimaadhoo lawmaker Hussain Shahudhee also left the ruling party last week followed by Dhangethi MP Ilham Ahmed on Sunday.

North-Fuvahmulah MP Ali Shah late Tuesday also quit the party taking the tally of lawmakers to leave the embattled ruling party to 10 decimating the once mighty ruling coalition as the parliament minority.

Former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed insisted that the government move was an attempt to destroy democracy in the country pointing out that the case was not a constitutional dispute.

However, the remaining government lawmakers have come out united to back the move stressing that it was imperative to weed out corruption in the parliament.

Supreme Court has also been subject to censure after the court assigned a three judge bench to hear the case. The courts Act however, clearly stipulates that a minimum five judge bench must be constituted to settle a constitutional dispute.

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