Independent MP for Noonu Velidhoo Ali ‘Alibe’ Mohamed joined the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Thursday, the former ruling party’s Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih has confirmed.
Solih told newspaper Haveeru that MP Ali Mohamed’s membership form would be sent to the Elections Commission (EC) by the end of the day.
MP Ali Mohamed’s signing has given new strength to the party, Solih added, and expressed confidence that the MDP would get a majority of votes from the new MP’s constituency.
MDP won four out of five island council seats in Velidhoo in February 2011. At a recent rally on the island, a large number of youth signed for the MDP during a visit by former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Solih told Haveeru that the party was confident of winning a majority in Holhudhoo as well, the other island island in MP Ali Mohamed’s constituency.
Ali Mohamed – who is among senior MPs who chairs parliamentary sittings in the absence of both the speaker and deputy speaker – was elected to parliament on a DRP ticket.
He resigned from the party in mid-2011 and began working as an independent MP. Ali Mohamed voted with the MDP to pass the previous administration’s tax bills.
He however voted against the MDP to appoint Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate and MP Gasim Ibrahim to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Solih meanwhile suggested that several politicians were closely observing the changing political landscape, predicting that more MPs would join the MDP in the near future.
Ali Mohamed’s signing to MDP comes shortly after Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid also made the switch from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
Addressing MDP supporters at his first rally, Shahid said he joined the opposition to “prevent the window to democracy from being closed”.
“As our hearts yearned to stay in these gardens for good, an attempt was made to try and close this window. An attempt was made to extinguish that glow of hope in people’s hearts. It was the courageous members of MDP who obstructed the powerful forces that tried to close this window to democracy.” Shahid said during the rally held by MDP to announce his arrival.
“Today, I am here with all of you brave, steadfast warriors to prevent that window from being closed,” he added.
Earlier this month, local media speculated that a number of MPs were on their way to join the opposition, including MPs Alhan Fahmy (Independent), Abdulla Abdul Raheem (JP), Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed (DRP), Ali Azim (DRP) and Hassan Adil (JP).
Minivan News was unable to confirm the reports at time of press as none of the MPs were responding to calls.
MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor previously speaking to Minivan News claimed that “a re-alignment in favour of the opposition was definitely happening”.
“I can confirm for you as I am a parliamentarian myself that several parliamentary groupings who previously stood behind the old dictatorship are slowly dismantling now. They have now started to realise that backing an old dictatorship is wrong,” said Ghafoor at the time. “I can guarantee you that a re-alignment is definitely happening and dismantling of the old dictatorship is imminent.”
Ghafoor however declined to reveal any names.
Following the signing of MP Ali Mohamed and Speaker Shahid, the number of MPs representing the opposition MDP now stands at 31, eight short of a simple majority in the 77-member house.
Parliament breakdown by party (prior to rumoured defection of five DRP MPs):
Independent – 10