Civil Court declares EC’s decision to dissolve MRM as ‘unlawful’

MRM's president Ahmed Faris Maumoon (L) with his father, former Maldivian president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (R).

The Civil Court ruled on Monday that the decision by the Elections Commission (EC) to dissolve the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) – a party founded by former Maldivian leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – was unlawful.

In May 2023, the EC decided to dissolve the MRM for failure to bring up its membership to 3,000, as mandated by law.

The party called the commission’s decision “illegal and corrupt”, and filed a case with the Civil Court over the issue.

The same month, the court granted an injunction to freeze the enforcement of EC’s decision, pending a final ruling.

On Monday, Judge Mohamed Easa Fulhu found the notice issued by the EC was in violation of the Political Parties Act.

In the notice sent by the EC in February 2023, instructing the MRM to bring up its membership, the commission listed the number of party members as 2,981. The party therefore worked on meeting the membership requirement based on this figure.

The court also noted that the notice made no mention of unprocessed membership forms, and that the commission made changes to the membership numbers during the notice period.

The court also found there were unreasonable delays in processing some of the membership forms.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at the inaugural meeting of his new political party Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) on November 7, 2019. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The MRM is not required to bear the legal responsibility for the failure of the EC to adhere to standard protocol in issuance of notices, reads the ruling.

The court found that given those circumstances, the decision by the EC to dissolve the MRM was therefore in violation of Article 43 of the Constitution.

The court therefore voided the letter announcing the decision to dissolve MRM, and all subsequent decisions by the commission regarding the matter.

The commission was also instructed to reimburse MRM for MVR 50,000 in legal fees it incurred, within seven days.

Following the EC’s decision to dissolve MRM, the party’s president, Ahmed Faris Maumoon had contested the 2023 presidential elections as an independent candidate, instead of on behalf of his party. He lost the election, placing sixth out of eight candidates who contested the firsts round.

While he proved no match for candidates from bigger parties, the policies he promoted received praise.

He later announced his candidacy for the North Maafannu seat in the upcoming parliamentary elections.