Two disqualified MPs vow to return for police questioning

Two top government lawmakers who were disqualified by the country's electoral watchdog following the Supreme Court's anti-defection ruling last year on Thursday vowed to come in for questioning after police announced a manhunt for the duo over an ongoing investigation.

Police had sought South-Machchangoalhi MP Abdulla Sinan and Dhangethi MP Ahmed Ilham in connection to the ongoing case into allegations of bribing lawmakers involving deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's son MP Faris Maumoon.

Police had asked the duo who have been living in exile after backing an opposition led move to unseat the parliament speaker to come in for questioning within 14 days.

The two lawmakers told AVAS that they would return to the Maldives before the ultimatum and answer any questions police have over the case. Both had also denied any connection to the case involving Faris, insisting that they would not be intimidated by the government.

"I will return to the Maldives before the 14 days are up. And I will answer all questions the police have for me. I'm not intimidated by these antics," Sinan told AVAS.

The embattled government in a bid to counter an internal revolt after as many as a dozen lawmakers backed an opposition led move to unseat the parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh in June 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.

The country's top court has refused to hear the several challenges filed by the rebel lawmakers while the elections commission has so far failed to hold by-elections for the vacated seats despite announcing the elections last year.