No more concerns over PPM's fate, claims EC

Commissioner of Elections, Ahmed Shareef has stated that there is no more tension regarding the fate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Speaking at the ceremony held on Thursday to hand over official registration documents of the new political party backed by former president Abdulla Yameen, Peoples National Congress (PNC), Commissioner Shareef said the Elections Commission (EC) accepts and respects the verdict issued by the Supreme Court of Maldives regarding the extra-dordinary congress held by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) following the 2018 presidential election.

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.

The first appellate court ruled in favor of PPM and ordered the Elections Commission to recognize the leadership elected during the congress within 24 hours.

The Elections Commission then contested the High Court decision at the Supreme Court. A single hearing was held at the Supreme Court regarding the case, where PPM continued to insist the validity of their congress while EC was adamant that several violations had taken place during the congress that would deem it as invalid.

However, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court supported the High Court's verdict, and ruled that PPM's congress was valid, with the unanimous agreement of all five judges on the bench, as the Elections Commission had failed to successfully prove the claims they were making.

Shareef noted that all apprehensiveness surrounding the fate of PPM with the formation of the new party has now faded.

"PPM is the largest political party in the political party registry, the party has the most number of members. Reports on social media stated that the whole leadership of PPM will transfer to PNC with its formation. We admit the Elections Commission was concerned regarding this, but at no point did we dictate how the leadership of PNC or PPM should be comprised", revealed Shareef.

Following the Supreme Court's verdict to validate the extra-ordinary congress held by PPM, the Elections Commission has also authorized the pending payment of MVR 8.4 million to be released to the party. The request has already been made at the Finance Ministry, said Shareef.

However, there are still several important discussions that need to be held with PPM, as most of the members elected by the PPM congress for leadership positions of the party have left the party to join PNC.

EC further urged PNC to establish a separate administrative office for the party, as the current addresses of both PNC and PPM are the same address.

Additionally, they requested PNC to adhere to the party charters in their conduct, and the political arty act.

Shareef also confirmed that the commission has decided not to further probe the complaint against PNC for the use of PPM's assets and resources for their party activities, as no witnesses had presented themselves to give a statement.