Parliament annuls prickly restriction on presidential candidates

Parliament annuls prickly restriction on presidential candidates

The parliament on Wednesday abolished the controversial amendment brought to the Presidential Election Act by the previous administration, which barred certain political figures from running for presidency.

The amendment passed by the previous parliament, which mainly comprised of members of then-ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) coalition, stated that any individual who held foreign nationality or asylum could run for presidency only 10 years after they surrendered their foreign citizenship or asylum.

These amendments were nullified unanimously by the 63 lawmakers present at Wednesday's sitting.

The previous parliament passed the controversial amendment after referring to Article 109 of the Constitution, which stipulates that presidential candidates must be "a Maldivian citizen born to parents who are Maldivian citizens, and who is not also a citizen of a foreign country". PPM lawmakers asserted at the time that the amendments were in line with policies practised by other democratic nations.

The bill was highly criticised by then-opposition, which claimed that the PPM administration amended the Act in order to target former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim, and mathematician Dr Hassan Ugail. While the bill was approved shortly before the 2018 elections, Nasheed and Jameel had been under British asylum at the time, while Qasim sought asylum from Germany. Dr Ugail held dual citizenship of Maldives and Britain.

The current government submitted the motion to nullify this amendment under its electoral pledge to review all the laws and regulations that were passed by the previous administration to target certain entities.

The parliament on Wednesday also accepted resolutions on housing and electoral constituencies, which were forwarded to the relevant committees. In addition, the MPs approved President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's decision to establish the Maldivian consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.