Asia Maldives president-elect gains control of Parliament

Maldives president-elect gains control of Parliament

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

 The president-elect of the Maldives scored another victory Wednesday by securing a majority in Parliament after the Elections Commission reinstated 12 lawmakers who were earlier deemed to have lost their seats.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won last month’s presidential election and is scheduled to be sworn in next month.

The reinstatement of the lawmakers in line with a Supreme Court order is a sign that Solih is consolidating his victory over outgoing strongman Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who appears to be losing his grip on state institutions.

Solih’s opposition coalition will now have 43 members in the 85-member Parliament while Yameen’s party will have 40.

The 12 lawmakers originally from Yameen’s party joined the opposition last year after their party split. But the Elections Commission declared them disqualified to hold office because they had switched allegiance.

The disqualified lawmakers challenged the commission’s decision in court.

Solih’s victory in the Sept. 23 election is seen as a second chance for the archipelago state’s young democracy, first established 10 years ago.

Since his election in 2013, Yameen rolled back many of the democratic gains. He wielded control over state institutions such as the courts, police, military, the bureaucracy and the Elections Commission.

He jailed most of his political rivals following trials that were criticized for lack of due process. Some have since been released on bail following Solih’s victory.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Nasheed, the first freely elected president of the Maldives has announced plans to return home from exile next month even though he faces a 13-year prison sentence on a conviction of terrorism which was widely condemned internationally for a lack of due process.

“If we at this juncture try to negotiate an amicable arrangement for my freedom with the now-defunct Supreme Court, it will not further our ambitions for judicial reform in the Maldives,” his office quoted Nasheed as saying.

“I trust that the Maldives will uphold its obligations under binding international treaties, and to its own people who have loudly exercised their will at the ballot box bringing in a new government in a landslide democratic victory. I plan to return to the Maldives on Nov. 1.”

The UN human rights committee found that Nasheed’ s trial and conviction were arbitrary and in violation of his right to a free trial under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Maldives is a signatory.

Nasheed was sentenced to jail in 2015 and the following year he was given asylum in Britain when he traveled there for medical treatment on leave from prison.

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