Non-members voted in ruling party congress, EC tells court

Several members from other political parties had voted in the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the country's electoral body told the first appellate court on Monday.

PPM has challenged the Election Commission's refusal to endorse the party's congress which elected outgoing president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom as the new party leader at the country's High Court.

PPM had claimed that president Yameen who suffered a rather embarrassing defeat to the opposition alliance candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September's presidential elections was voted in as the new leader unanimously by congress members.

However, the members of the Elections Commission had refused to endorse the congress citing procedural violations.

During the first hearing on the challenge, PPM lawyer had argued that the commission had observed the congress and had not flagged any issues at the time.

In response, the commission's lawyer said the congress had been held in violation of the party's charter as an additional deputy leader was elected when the party had originally announced that only three deputy leaders would be elected during the congress.

The lawyer also said dozens of congress members included in the list forwarded to the commission by PPM had included names of people already in the party registries of other political parties.

In addition, the ballot box had been taken to each member in violation of voting procedures.

PPM had requested the three judge bench for more time to respond to EC's arguments.

The party's last congress was held in 2013 to elect former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as the party president. Gayoom however was unceremoniously ousted from the party after falling-out with his half brother Yameen and has since been jailed over the alleged plot to overthrow the government in February.

The Civil Court in 2016 found Gayoom guilty of violating the constitution, party charter and the political party law and handed-over party control to president Yameen.