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Top court's anti-defection 'explanation' sparks more confusion

The latest controversy in the seemingly endless barrage of political strife is undoubtedly the recent constitutional interpretation by the archipelago's top court which now disqualifies MPs who defect, violate party whip-lines or are removed from their respective parties.

The government initiated constitutional case was obviously designed to stem the bleeding of lawmakers from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) after as many as 10 MPs backed an opposition led motion to unseat the parliament speaker.

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 last 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.

The ruling party however, has refused to allow the lawmakers to leave saying that their requests can only be processed after their respective disciplinary hearing are concluded.

The rebel lawmakers along with the opposition have continued to insist that they would not lose their seats in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Amid the contrasting opinion, the Supreme Court late Sunday issued a statement in attempt to lift the confusion, but has instead cast more doubts over the disqualification of the rebel ruling party MPs.

The top court has said the ruling clearly states that it would not apply to any past events in retrospect to the latest precedent.

The constitutional ruling would not undermine or overrule the regulations and the charter of a particular party in the dismissal or action against a lawmaker.

Local legal experts who spoke to Avas said the interpretation of the Supreme Court means the ruling would not apply to the PPM lawmakers who had asked to be removed from the party before the court had settled the contentious constitutional dispute.

The PPM charter and the political parties Act clearly states that any party member would be automatically removed from the party once a formal request is submitted in writing.

The party's charter also clearly states that the party's disciplinary committee's mandate is limited to hearing cases against members accused of violating the party's policies.

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