Ex-pres' new party denies 'forced' memberships

Maldives electoral watchdog revealed on Thursday that several complaints have been received by the commission regarding the party membership forms submitted by People's National Congress (PNC).

The Elections Commission said in a press conference that 4000 membership forms were presented to the commission by PNC, and the validity of the documents are currently being reviewed. The commission has received several complaints that membership forms were submitted without the consent of the individuals under whose names the forms were submitted, said Commissioner, Ahmed Shareef. The matter is being investigated further.

However, party founder, Fonadhoo lawmaker Abdul Raheem Abdulla denied the claims made against the party, and assured that no applicants were coerced into joining the party. All forms were voluntarily submitted, said Abdul Raheem.

The Elections Commission requires a minimum of 3000 membership applications to be submitted for a party to be registered. While 4000 forms were submitted by PNC on Wednesday, several senior members of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) left the party to join PNC, as instructed by PPM leader and former President, Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.

Yameen had moved to register a new political party as the dispute over the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leadership drags on.

Speaking to local reporters late last month, Yameen had said the move to form a new party was with his "blessing."

"We can't head to an election with the party's future shrouded in uncertainty. Supreme Court is in recess. We don't when or how the verdict would come. So we can't take any chances," Yameen explained the reasons behind the bid to form a new party.

The former president also urged his supporters to immediately switch to the party if and when the time comes.

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

Gayoom however was unceremoniously ousted from the party after falling-out with his half brother Yameen.

However, a lawsuit was filed challenging the legality of the PPM leadership and asking the Civil Court to handover party reins to the elder Gayoom. But before a single hearing could be held, the Supreme Court had taken over the case.