Lawmakers accept Bill to abolish Anti-Defection Act for consideration

Deputy leader of PPM's parliamentary group, Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed. (File Photo/People's Majlis)

People’s Majlis has accepted the Bill submitted to abolish the Anti-Defection Act for considerations.

The Bill to abolish the law which disqualifies lawmakers for floor crossing was submitted by deputy leader of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s parliamentary group, Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed.

The Majlis accepted the Bill for consideration during the sitting this Wednesday morning with the vote of 30 lawmakers. 3 lawmakers voted against accepting the Bill for consideration.

Submitting the Bill, Riyaz Rasheed said the biggest reason for abolishing the Anti-Defection Act was the recent decision by Supreme Court to reinstate the 12 lawmakers who had their seats taken from them and their rights violated.

“Article 74 of the Maldivian Constitution clearly states the circumstances for disqualification of lawmakers. It’s clear this [Anti-Defection] Act is preventing lawmakers from fulfilling their obligations,” said Riyaz Rasheed.

He said disqualifying lawmakers for violating a party whip-line or the contents of a tweet was unacceptable.

Criticizing the current Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Riyaz Rasheed said people elected President of the country should learn how to govern.

“There will come difficulties. You should learn to face the ups and downs, resolve difficulties and move forward,” said Riyaz.

“Lawmakers aren’t the ones who are corrupt. How corruption took place and how corruption takes place – all this will come to light soon.”

He said it will be clear soon whether it was lawmakers who were corrupt, heads of companies who were corrupt, or Cabinet ministers who were corrupt.

Riyaz said he had concerns about the Anti-Defection Bill from the start, and that voting in favor of the Bill was the “biggest mistake of my life”.

He said neither the government nor the Supreme Court had any authority to violate the rights of the People’s Majlis.

The Anti-Defection Act was formed following a Supreme Court ruling on July 13, 2017 to disqualify any lawmaker who leaves his/her political party, is removed from his/her political party or defects to another political party. The court had ordered the establishment of the Anti-Defection Act.

Opposition lawmakers had filed a motion with the Supreme Court in 2017 to abolish the Anti-Defection Act. But the court had found no grounds to abolish the Act.

12 lawmakers were disqualified for floor crossing after the establishment of the Anti-Defection Act. But the Supreme Court recently reinstated all 12 lawmakers finding that none of the conditions under the Anti-Defection Act is applicable in any of the cases.