3 defeated in primaries seek injunction to allow them to compete in election

People walk by the Supreme Court of Maldives. (File Photo/Sun)

Three candidates who suffered defeat during party primaries for the upcoming parliamentary elections have filed cases with the Supreme Court seeking to annul the amendment to the Political Parties Act which disqualifies candidates defeated in party primaries from running for national elections.

The three candidates are all Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members who suffered defeat during the MDP Primary on January 18.

They are; Abdulla Jabir who unsuccessfully ran for the Kaashidhoo ticket, Abdul Maaniu Hussain, and Ahmed Mohamed who unsuccessfully ran for the North Hithadhoo ticket.

Jabir and Maaniu had filed their request as a single case, while Ahmed Mohamed filed his request separately; however, the court has now combined the requests and is treating it as a single case due to its similarity.

The first hearing in the case was held this Wednesday.

At the hearing, Ahmed Mohamed asked for a temporary court order to annul the amendment to the law in question prior to issuance of a formal ruling. He argued the deadline for submission of candidacy applications was February 21, and said the lack of prior court intervention could result in the loss of a basic constitutional right of many.

The bench of judges, led by Chief Justice Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi who presided over the hearing this Wednesday, did not immediately make a decision on issuance of a temporary order.

Jabir, who serves as Special Envoy to the President, and his attorney Abdul Hakeem Mohamed Rasheed were also in attendance at the hearing.

Abdul Hakeel argued the constraint was an explicit violation of the Maldivian Constitution, which needs to be remedied through annulment by the Supreme Court.

He said that producing additional laws which clash with pre-set conditions for candidates who run in national elections which disqualify a specific group of individuals from contending in elections was illegal.

 When asked to respond, State’s attorney Hawwa Sana from the Attorney General’s Office said the office received case documents on Tuesday, and asked the court to give the State until next Sunday to prepare.

The judges took a short recess to make their decision, and when they resumed the hearing, announced the decision to grant the request and hold the next hearing on Sunday.

The Chief Justice also announced the court will allow third-party intervention of the Elections Commission and notify the commission of the fact.

Meanwhile, JP member and Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed has submitted legislation to the Parliament to annul the same amendment. The legislation is currently under committee evaluation.

Article 26 (b) of the Maldivian Constitutional empowers any Maldivian citizen of over 18 years of age to contend in elections.

The constraint to disqualify those defeated in party primaries from contending in elections was fixed to the Political Parties Act via an amendment by then-PPM member and Vilingili MP Saud Hussain in 2016.