A senior member of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s Z-DRP faction has confirmed to Minivan News that the party’s Deputy Leader and Council Member Ali Waheed is shortly to join the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
Head of the DRP’s sports wing, Hassan Shujau, will also join the ruling party along with Waheed, the source said.
The opposition figure confirmed that the pair were shifting sides “after receiving offers that, if they accept, will allow them to live the rest of their lives without doing any work.”
Rumours of Waheed’s possible jump to the MDP began circulating in the media over the weekend.
MDP Parliamentary Group’s former spokesperson, MP Ahmed Shifaz, told Minivan News that Ali Waheed was “99 percent likely to join MDP.”
”Ali Waheed is very, very close to joining MDP,” said Shifaz. ”But I do not have any information that he has joined as of yet.”
Recently MDP Deputy Leader and MP Alhan Fahmy was quoted in local newspaper Haveeru as saying ”the next time I step foot on this land it will be with Ali Waheed.”
Alhan, himself a former opposition MP and now the deputy leader of the ruling party, was speaking at an MDP rally held in Waheed’s North Ari Atoll constituency of Thoddu.
Waheed kept media silence amidst the spread of the rumours that he was intending to shift parties.
Leader of the DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that he could not believe Waheed would join MDP “unless I see him join.”
”I don’t believe that he will join MDP after getting elected to the parliament on DRP ticket,” Thasmeen said, refusing to speculate on what Waheed’s departure would mean for the party.
DRP Deputy Leader and Spokesperson Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef said that Waheed had not signed, “and still remains a deputy leader of the DRP. This is propaganda to try to discredit some of us in the party.”
However, “Ali Waheed is a rising star with widespread support, and it would be a great blow to the party if he were to leave,” Shareef acknowledged.
Waheed’s decision comes at a time when the opposition is torn by factional strife, between leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and the ‘Z-DRP’ faction organised around former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who remains the ‘Honorary Leader’ of the party he founded since announcing his political retirement in February 2010.
“It is very sad that our Honorary Leader believes that the opposition can under no circumstances support the policies of the government, even if they are good. This is a government elected by the people, and we must honour their decision, and accept it.”