Male: Less than a year after he was sworn in as President of the Maldives, Mohamed Waheed is facing the prospect of his party being dissolved as a new bill passed by the Parliament requires a minimum membership of 10,000 for a political group to be recognised.
Upon ratification, the Political Parties bill, passed late last month, will provide a three-month deadline to any political party with less than 10,000 members to reach the required number or face the prospect of being dissolved.
President Waheed, whose Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) has only 3,427 members, had returned the bill to Parliament for reconsideration earlier this week.
Of the 16 parties currently in existence, only three have more than 10,000 registered members, including the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) as well as the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) led by Waheed`s Special Advisor Hassan Saeed has 2,125 members, the Minivan News reported.
The bill was pushed forward by former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom`s PPM and ex-President Mohamed Nasheed`s MDP, government sources said.
Incidentally, Nasheed had earlier accused Gayoom of orchestrating what he called was a coup that led to his ouster in February last year.
Gayoom had ruled Maldives for three decades before he was defeated in the country`s first democratic elections by Nasheed in 2008.
"Ratification of this bill will be a denial of the citizens Right to Association, a fundamental right guaranteed to all Maldivians in the Constitution," Masood Imad, Media Secretary of the President`s Office said.
He said it is very likely that even if the President ratifies this bill, smaller parties may file suits in the Supreme Court seeking its intervention to stop the process of the Majlis (Parliament).
The President`s advisor Saeed told local media that the bill infringed upon the rights enshrined in the Constitution and that he would file a case in the Supreme Court requesting the law be struck down.
The bill was proposed on behalf of the government during Nasheed`s administration. It was submitted by MDP MP Ahmed Abdulla in April 2011.