Maldives Reform Movement Accuses Election Commission of Disruption
Political Tensions Rise as MRM Battles for Survival
The Maldives Reform Movement (MRM), a political party led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has recently made accusations against the Elections Commission (EC) for allegedly disrupting its political activities and the nomination process for a presidential candidate. The EC, citing the party’s failure to meet the minimum membership requirement of 3,000, sought to dissolve the MRM. However, the Civil Court granted an injunction to the MRM, thereby halting the dissolution.
Alleged Exclusion from Election Meetings
MRM Vice President, Aminath Nadhira, has claimed that the EC has deliberately excluded the MRM from meetings related to the forthcoming presidential election. The EC also declined to include the party in the National Advisory Committee, allegedly violating the court’s ruling. The MRM has resisted the dissolution, alleging it as politically motivated and unlawful.
Coalition Ties and Presidential Ambitions
Currently, the MRM is debating renewing its coalition ties with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ahead of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s re-election bid. MRM President, Faris Maumoon, is preparing to run as an independent candidate in the upcoming election if any legal issues arise.
The Role of the Supreme Court in Political Affairs
The Supreme Court has intervened in political affairs at times, typically acting according to political interests. While significant strides have been made under the new government to reinforce basic principles of autonomy, quality, and accountability, much remains to be done to ensure efficient administration of justice.
Concerns Over the Judicial Service Commission
In 2022, three High Court judges were removed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after an investigation revealed they had illegally accepted real estate gifts during the Yameen administration. The JSC reported that a total of 393 complaints were submitted against judges during the year; 46 cases were closed, and of those, misbehavior was found in 24. Recent amendments to the Judicial Service Commission Act have the potential to bring positive changes to the Maldives, specifically regarding the impeachment of judges. However, the composition of the JSC must remain neutral if the provisions are to be upheld. In 2022, the JSC is still widely considered to be compromised because its members hold political affiliations.
Historic Steps Towards Gender Equality in the Judiciary
In 2019, the government appointed the first two women to the Supreme Court, despite Islamist objections. In September 2020, a woman was appointed to the Criminal Court bench for the first time in the country’s history, and there was a record number of female judges in the Maldivian judiciary at the end of 2022.
Future Implications for the Maldives
The ongoing political conflict between the MRM and the EC, coupled with the challenges faced by the judiciary, highlight the complexities of the political landscape in the Maldives. As the country strives for democratic reform and judicial independence, the actions of the MRM, EC, and other political entities will play a significant role in shaping its future.
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