Maldives' ex-pres condemns top court ruling

Leader of main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and former president of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has criticized the Supreme Court's ruling to annul the law preventing individuals who lose party elections from contesting in the targeted election.

Maldives' apex court on Monday ruled against the ban on individuals who lose a party primary from contesting independently.

The Supreme Court annulled Article 20 of the Political Party Act, which enforces a statutory ban on individuals who lose a party primary from contesting in the target election independently.

The Supreme Court, with the unanimous agreement of all five judges presiding over the bench said in their verdict that the article barring individuals who lose their bid for a party ticket from running independently infringes on the political rights of an individual mandated by the constitution.

In their verdict, the top court ordered the Elections Commission to accept candidacy papers of those who lost party primaries but wishes to compete in the parliamentary election independently until 4th March.

In a tweet published by Nasheed following the order, he said the main reason the faith and trust placed in the judiciary is lost is due to judicial over-reach through meddling and influencing elections. He stressed that not even the Supreme Court can be allowed to extend the deadline for submission of candidacy papers.

In the past, a local council election was delayed through a court ruling while the 2013 presidential election was also annulled by the Supreme Court.

Commissioner of Elections, Ahmed Shareef said although the candidates who lost primaries can submit their applications as independent candidates until the 4th of March, there would be no changes or delays to the election date.

The case was filed at the Supreme Court jointly by prominent businessman and former Kaashidhoo MP, Abdulla Jabir who recently suffered a defeat in main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s primaries for the parliamentary election, and attorney Abdul Maaniu Hussain. The same issue was also presented to the Supreme Court by Ahmed Mohamed from southernmost Addu City.

Parliamentarians voted to amend the political party law which barres individuals defeated in primaries from contesting in elections in 2016. A bill has already been submitted at the parliament to annul the amendment.