Electoral body denies 'blocking' PNC registration

Maldives' electoral body on Wednesday denied allegations that it was deliberating delaying the registration of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's new party.

The People's National Congress (PNC) submitted 4,000 membership forms to the Elections Commission over a fortnight ago in order to register the party. How

However the elections commission had rejected hundreds of forms saying that most of them had been deemed invalid.

In response, PNC has now come out accusing EC of discrimination amid a deliberate attempt to delay the party's registration ahead of the parliamentary elections in April.

EC member Ahmed Akram however, denied the allegations insisting that the commission would not impede the rights of any party.

"This commission won't violate the rights or anyone. Or deliberately delay anything. We're not plotting anything heinous," Akram said.

He also said the commission was in the process of validating the membership forms.

"We are validating the forms as quickly as possible. We're not discriminating PNC," he stressed.

There are some serious challenges and concerns for PNC in preparing for the upcoming parliamentary election scheduled for April due to delays in registering the party. The Elections Commission has instructed to conclude all party primaries for the upcoming parliamentary elections by 26th January.

Former president, 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.