The Jumhooree Party (JP) is to sue three parliamentarians who switched to the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives.
The unanimous decision was announced at a party meeting on Saturday night, but the former ruling coalition partner is yet to decide on how to pursue the case.
JP council members said MPs had sworn in the name of Allah to refrain from crossing the floor and the switch had caused damage to the party. The PPM bribed MPs, JP alleged.
“The PPM’s actions in offering unattainably high incentives to parliamentarians of our party, and providing them with financial and material incentives so as to have them switch to their party, are against the vows they made to the public in their ascension to power,” a JP statement read.
The JP’s backing was crucial in PPM’s presidential win in November. The two parties decided to field joint candidates under separate party banners for the 85 member house in March. The PPM won 33 of the 50 seats it contested, while the JP won 15 of the 28 seats it contested. Coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance won five seats.
The PPM severed its coalition agreement with the JP in May after the coalition partner’s leader, Gasim Ibrahim, ran for the post of Majlis speaker despite the PPM fielding its senior MP Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed as the ruling coalition’s candidate.
JP currently has 12 MPs after Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed ‘Muhamma’ Abdulla, Milandhoo MP Hassan Mufeed Abdul Gadhir and Nolhivaram MP Hassan Areef’s signed to the PPM.
The MPs said they were urged by their constituents to join the ruling party to speed up development of their constituencies.
Following the loss of two JP MPs last month, Gasim claimed at a press conference that the MPs had told him that the government had threatened to cease development of islands in their constituencies. Gasim said he had heard that the pair were offered MVR10 million (US$648,508) each for the transfer.
The JP leader heavily criticised the pair for allegedly reneging on an agreement signed under oath “before God Almighty” to remain in the JP until the end of their five-year terms.
In response, the PPM has denied offering any incentives for crossing the floor.
“Today’s reality is that because PPM is in government, many members are taking their own intiative in joining our party. This is done with the intention of providing development to the constituencies they represent,” PPM Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla told local media.
Meanwhile, MP Muhamma told Minivan News he does not believe the JP has the grounds to take him to court.
“I don’t believe the JP can go to court on this matter. I don’t believe that any agreement made against the constitution can be valid,” he said.
He further claimed that it is “far more logical” for the JP to take PPM to court for breaking up the coalition than to sue individual parliamentarians.
The PPM now has a 43 member majority. In addition to the three JP MPs, four out of five independent MPs, and three opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have switched to the ruling party.
Minivan News was unable to contact parliamentarians Hassan Mufeed Abdul Gadir and Hassan Areef for comments at the time of press.