The fractured main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is no longer the majority party in parliament with its coalition with minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) on the verge of collapsing, claims ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group Leader “Reeko” Moosa Manik.
“I am very sad that they have broken the coalition,” Moosa told reporters outside parliament today. “They [DRP MPs] have said as much in the media. But they are hesitant to show that in the Majlis registry. They are still waiting. If so, [DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali] won’t be Majority Leader anymore. I am the parliament’s Majority Leader now.”
Of the 77 MPs in parliament, the MDP currently has 33 MPs to the DRP’s 27 and PA’s seven.
The MDP MP for Hulhu-Henveiru suggested that his party’s new majority was evident in this week’s vote on ministerial appointees after Home Minister Hassan Afeef was narrowly approved in spite of the DRP declaring that it would reject three nominees.
Meanwhile PA Leader Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, revealed on private broadcaster DhiTV last week that the party would be reviewing its coalition agreement with the DRP – which “exists only in name” – in light of recent events.
In a move that strained the relationship further, PA Deputy Leader Ahmed Nazim recently sued DRP Leader Thasmeen in Civil Court to recover almost Rf2 million (US$155,000) allegedly owed to him.
Moosa’s remarks today come a day after DRP Deputy Leader Ali Waheed publicly called upon the party’s council not to “maintain a coalition [with PA] only in name.”
Referring to yesterday’s vote on approving members to the Broadcasting Commission, Waheed alleged that the PA together with the ‘Gayoom faction’ MPs struck a deal with the MDP to vote through an agreed upon list.
Moosa however denied the allegations of collusion with the PA, claiming that “the only deal we will make them is an agreement for a [formal] coalition.”
Yesterday’s parliament sitting grew heated during the vote on members to the Broadcasting Commission when DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf broke the party’s three-line whip on the fifth nominee, prompting Waheed to raise a point of order demanding to know whether the voting machines were malfunctioning.
After repeatedly advising the Thohdhoo MP to take his seat and then ordering him out, Speaker Abdulla Shahid called a short recess when Waheed refused to leave the chamber.
Waheed revealed afterward that three nominees chosen by the DRP were defeated in yesterday’s vote.
The intensifying allegations and counter-allegations highlight the growing distrust between the rival opposition factions, split between supporters of DRP Leader Thasmeen and loyalists of former President Gayoom.
Earlier this week, DRP MP Ali Azim accused the PA and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim of conspiring to send two DRP MPs abroad ahead of Monday’s vote on cabinet appointments.
Gasim told newspaper Haveeru yesterday that he was not obliged to follow the DRP’s whip line, putting the accusations down to “failure to digest their internal problems,” adding that “those feelings are now exploding like a bomb.”
The former presidential candidate asserted that “if we elect a government it should also have a cabinet.”
Gasim had abstained in the vote on Hassan Afeef while he had voted for Transport Minister Adil Saleem.