Male, March 31: The Maldivian parliament has passed a law barring people serving prison sentence from political party membership, effectively ousting former president Mohamed Nasheed from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) he co-founded.
The law was passed by 42-2 vote in the 85-seat parliament on Monday.
MDP MPs did not take part in the vote but protested on the Majlis floor as deputy Speaker 'Reeko' Moosa Manik announced the vote, using megaphones and sirens to make his voice inaudible.
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives has a brute majority in parliament.
Nasheed will lose his leadership and membership of the MDP because of a terrorism conviction in March relating to the detention of a judge when he was in power.
He was jailed for 13 years after being found guilty of terrorism in a case his party says was hoisted on him by the government of President Abdulla Yameen, says Minivan News [Former Maldives President sentenced to 13-year imprisonment]
Nasheed's supporters say the charge was aimed at preventing him from contesting the 2018 presidential election.
Nasheed was jailed for 13 years after being found guilty of terrorism
Speaking to the press, MDP chairperson Ali Waheed said the party would not accept the amendment and would choose its own leader. Nasheed remains the MDP's presidential candidate, the party has said, despite his jail sentence.
"The government, because they have absolute power, is trying to wipe out all political rivals. Note this, they will eventually try to disband the MDP. But how can they get rid of what is in our hearts?" Waheed said.
The MDP has been protesting in parliament at every sitting since March 2, and has said it will not stop until the government frees Nasheed.
The bill was never debated in parliament due to opposition protests.
The Adhaalath Party has withdrawn support to President Yameen's administration, saying he was acting to eliminate political rivals, and instead formed an alliance with the MDP.
The amendment also bars prisoners from holding membership or leadership in NGOs when they are in prison, said Minivan News.