Ex-Pres' new party confident of electoral watchdog's impartiality

Party founder of Peoples National Congress (PNC), Fonadhoo lawmaker Abdul Raheem Abdulla is confident that the Elections Commission will be fair in their dealings with the party, he said on Sunday.

At a press conference held by the party, Abdul Raheem stated that party officials have met with the electoral watchdog and confirmed that the processing of the 4000 membership forms submitted by the party for party registration are ongoing swiftly. No serious issues have been identified in the membership forms, while no forms have so far been declared as invalid due to intentional impersonation of an individual. Only minor issues such as unclear fingerprint stamps have been noticed so far.

The Elections Commission recently 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 currently being investigated further.

However, Abdul Raheem Abdulla had 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.

While there is no resistance or pressure from EC in registering the new political party, he believes the commission has the integrity and the professionalism not to discriminate against the party, added the lawmaker.

Although there are some challenges in preparing for the upcoming parliamentary election due to delays in registering the party, it is expected that the party backed by former president, Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, will be registered within the week.

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.