Gayoom urges top court to break 'silence' over MP disqualifications

Deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Tuesday insisted that the disqualified lawmakers have the right to "demand" a response over the confusion surrounding the status of their membership.

Elections commission had disqualified a dozen ruling party lawmakers over the anti-defection ruling issued by the Supreme Court last year.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) had engineered the constitutional dispute case asking the Supreme Court to disqualify MPs who defect or violate party whip-lines and or are formally removed from their respective party.

The three judge bench hearing the case unanimously ruled in favour of the government. The court had also ordered relevant institutions to bring into effect an anti-defection law.

In August, the Supreme Court said it had "nothing more to settle" over the challenges filed by four other rebel lawmakers who were disqualified by the elections commission based on the anti-defection ruling.

More than a month after the challenges were filed, the Supreme Court in its response had referred to its original anti-defection ruling and the subsequent explanation which has sparked confusion from both the opposition and the government alike.

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 had 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 Supreme Court reiterated that the anti-defection ruling would only be effective from July 13 and would only apply to events from that date.

"Hence the ruling clearly applies to lawmakers representing a particular party from the said date, there is nothing further to settle over the matter," the unanimous response read.

Gayoom on Twitter said "our MPs have every right to demand a clear and unambiguous word from Maldives Supreme Court on the status of their membership."

"Supreme Court cannot keep silent any more on this landmark issue."

Several of the disqualified lawmakers meanwhile, have been trying to meet the top court bench over the challenges. The five judge bench has however, so far denied repeated requests for an audience.