MDP submits an anti-defection bill

MDP’s parliamentary group leader, Mohamed Rasheed Hussain (Bigey) (C) speaks during a press briefing on February 22, 2024. (Photo/Infinite Moments/Moosa Nadheem)

The main opposition MDP says it has submitted an anti-defection bill to prevent floor crossing, but was facing challenges in pushing the legislature through.

In a press briefing on Thursday evening, MDP’s parliamentary group leader, Mohamed Rasheed Hussain (Bigey) told reporters that the bill was submitted to the Parliament by Baarah MP Ahmed Abdulla. But he did not specify when it was submitted.

According to Bigey, the bill was submitted due to great public concern over cases of floor crossing.

“But we have been unable to push this through to the Parliament floor due to various reasons. The Parliament’s secretariat has yet to facilitate this opportunity,” said Bigey, who represents the Alifushi constituency.

MDP’s legal director Hisaan Hussain, who represents the Thulhaadhoo constituency in the Parliament, told reporters that the bill submitted by MDP is different from the anti-defection legislature which was passed, and then later repealed by the PPM administration in 2018.

Hisaan said the previous legislature disqualified lawmakers who are expelled by their parties.

Thulhaadhoo MP Hisaan Hussain speaks during a press briefing on February 22, 2024. (Photo/Infinite Moments/Moosa Nadheem)

“Even back then, we said it cannot be done that way. Even political parties must not have such great power over a lawmaker and the chance to abuse that power,” she said.

Hisaan said the greatest difference with MDP’s bill is that it requires lawmakers elected on party tickets to resign if they voluntarily leave the party.

Secondly, lawmakers who are expelled from their party will be subjected to a recall vote – which will be held by the Elections Commission (EC).

“After a recall referendum, if the constituents decide they do not want the lawmaker to represent the seat, then the lawmaker will be required to resign from the Parliament,” she said.

She, too, said the MDP face facing challenges in scheduling the bill.

She added that the Parliament’s secretariate still had the same top officials who were there when the previous anti-defection legislature was submitted and passed.

Hisaan did not elaborate on the challenges the MDP if facing in pushing the legislature through, but said that the speaker and deputy speaker – both of whom belong to the MDP – are working on resolving the issue.

The previous anti-defection legislature was formulated in response to a Supreme Court ruling in July 2017, in which the top court established that lawmakers would lose their seat if they left or were expelled the party they were elected from, or if they switched parties. The ruling, which contentiously stripped the seats of a dozen lawmakers who left the then-ruling PPM, called for the formulation of anti-defection legislature.

The bill was submitted by the then-PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik in March 2018. But the bill was repealed in November 2018.