Former DRP MP for Seenu Feydhoo Alhan Fahmy has officially joined MDP after signing the paperwork during a ceremony last night at the artificial beach.
Independent MP for North Kulhudhuffushi, Abdul Ghafoor Moosa, also joined the party along with former environment minister Ahmed Abdulla who resigned from the cabinet during Gayoom’s presidency, and State Minister for Fisheries, Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan.
MDP MP for South Henveiru, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said Alhan’s move in particlar was significant “as this is the first time an MP has shifted from one party to another in such a highly-charged political environment.”
“At the meeting last night [Alhan] said he had lost confidence in his party following the vote of no-confidence against [Foreign Minister] Dr Ahmed Shaheed,” Hamid said. “He said the vote was based on a flimsy cause particularly during a time of a depressed economy when the country is trying to rebuild itself after years of autocracy. He is rationalising his decision and is worth listening to.”
Hamid noted that the MDP now had majority control of the parliament with 30 members to the DRP’s 28.
“With the People’s Alliance the DRP-PA coalition has 34 members, but we are skeptical about the coalition [continuing]. It is looking rather strained,” he said.
It remains to be seen how Alhan’s constituency will react to his decision, as the MP campaigned on a DRP ticket.
Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed suggested the defection could potentially place the MP in breach of contract, depending on what agreements had been signed, but explained that the country had no anti-defection legislation.
“It’s a debatable issue around the globe. Legally there is no rule in the Maldives that says someone has to stay in the one party,” Nasheed said. “It sometimes clashes with freedom of expression.”
The ethics of Alhan’s move were matter between the MP and his constituency, Nasheed said, “and should be a political and a personal choice” as locking people into parties was not a good idea for formative political systems in their development stage.
The moves were isolated incidents and unlikely to trigger a run on any party, he suggested, or significantly affect the parliament.
“Abdul Ghafoor [Moosa] was practically MDP already and pretty much a defacto member, so last night was more of a ceremony,” Nasheed said.
Several DRP MPs reacted stridently when rumours of Alhans’ defection first surfaced. MP Ahmed Mahlouf previously labelled the Seenu Feydhoo MP a “political prostitute”.
With the move now formalised, DRP MP Abdullah Mausoom would not be drawn into debate over Alhan’s departure. Instead he would only say “the question is whether we are concerned at all.”