MPs of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) Z-faction are in the process of joining forces with minority opposition parties People’s Alliance (PA), Jumhooree Party (JP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) to form a new “opposition parliamentary group.”
After months of internal strife within the DRP, coalition partner People’s Alliance (PA) broke its agreement with the largest opposition party this week at the behest of the Z-faction, threatening DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s status as the minority leader of parliament.
Formerly the majority leader, Thasmeen became minority leader at the beginning of the current parliament session in June when the ruling party secured 34 seats, making the parliamentary group leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the new majority leader.
Z-DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf told Minivan News that the new parliamentary group will consist of MPs from PA, JP, DQP and a few Independent MPs along with about 11 DRP MPs disaffected with Thasmeen’s leadership.
“We will appoint a leader and deputy leader for the new parliamentary group very soon,” he revealed.
The DRP MP for Galolhu South added that embattled DRP Leader Thasmeen was “welcome to join” the new group.
“But it was Thasmeen’s failure that led us to form this opposition parliamentary group, he failed us as the Majority Leader,” Mahlouf said.
Mahlouf told Minivan News yesterday that 11 of the party’s MPs met with MPs of the minority opposition parties and an independent MP Saturday night “to discuss how to move forward.”
Parliamentary procedure prevented the Z-DRP MPs from forming a new party, Mahlouf claimed, but he speculated that the MPs would potentially leave the main opposition and operate either as independents, or join one or other of the opposition aligned parties.
If that scenario were to happen, the DRP would be reduced to 13-15 MPs and Thasmeen would no longer be minority leader, as the the new opposition PA-JP-DQP alliance would number 21-22 MPs.
Thasmeen has meanwhile hit out at the PA’s decision this week to split with the DRP. The PA had claimed lack of cooperation and “initiative” by the DRP leadership in holding the government accountable as the main reason for the decision.
The DRP leader told local media this week that the PA had to “take responsibility for the weakening of the opposition” due to the dissolution of the coalition.
Appearing on private broadcaster DhiTV last night, PA Leader Abdulla Yameen however contended that the termination of the coalition agreement did not entail “any disadvantage or loss to opposition parties.”
Yameen, half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and potential presidential candidate for 2013, explained that the party would still vote with the DRP to hold the government accountable.
“PA did not break the coalition to support MDP,” he said. “PA parted ways [with the DRP] because we believe that under our new management we can improve efforts to hold the government accountable.”
The opposition MP for Mulaku noted that six months had passed since the PA announced its decision not to follow the DRP’s whip line.
He added that the PA had voted with the DRP “91 percent of the time.”
Yameen said that “any weakening of the opposition” occurred “when the DRP-PA coalition was at its strongest.”
“The opposition parties were weakened when the [concession agreement to hand over management of the Male’ International Airport to Indian infrastructure giant] GMR issue emerged,” he claimed. “I was arrested. [JP Leader] Gasim [Ibrahim] was arrested. Where was DRP then? What hardship did they have to bear? No DRP senior officials were arrested.”