Members can switch parties ahead of assembly

Elections Commission (EC)'s Vice President Ismail Habeeb.

Vice President of Elections Commission (EC), Ismail Habeeb on Wednesday said, the newly elected parliamentary members may choose to switch their political parties before the next parliament assembly commences.

Habeeb's statements are in response to the speculation that the six independent members who recently signed on to ruling PNC, will lose their seats.

Article 73(c) of the Maldives Constitution stipulates the circumstances under which a member will be disqualified from election or as a sitting MP, which Habeeb said does not apply to all six members who recently signed to PNC.

Article 3(e) of the recently ratified Anti-Defection Bill, extends the right to elected members to change their political parties before the parliament assembly commences, Habeeb added.

"Besides, no rights awarded under the Articles 30, 59, 63, 69, and 73(e) of the Constitution can be stripped by any other legislation," Habeeb commented.

Meanwhile, many have raised concerns since a constitutionally stipulated condition had been extended into a separate legislation, which details the circumstances under which a member stand to lose their seat.

To ensure proper enforceability, a bill has already been submitted proposing to add the conditions stipulated in Article 73 of the Constitution to the recently ratified Anti-Defection Bill.

The following six independent members signed on to PNC on Tuesday:

  • Dr. Anara Naeem - Huraa
  • Hassan Zareer - Mathiveri
  • Ahmed Zameer - Central-Machchangolhi
  • Ahmed Riyaz - Thimarafushi
  • Yasin Abdulla - Naifaru
  • Azim Abdul Azeez - Vilingili

While 66 members from PNC secured their parliamentary seats in the recently held election, the recent addition will increase the ruling party's occupancy at the parliament's upcoming assembly to 72 MPs further solidifying its super-majority status.

The number of constituencies for the upcoming assembly has been increased to 93 seats.