Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Interim Vice President Umar Naseer has welcomed the growth of the Jumhoree Party (JP), stating his belief that the party is likely to split the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) vote in future elections.
His comments were said to have been in response to rumours that PPM MPs were considering defecting to the JP.
“Lately rumors have been circulating that some members of PPM’s parliamentary group are planning to switch parties. Many have called me to clarify about the matter. I would like to assure all members of the party that no member of our parliamentary group plan to crossover to another political party, and will never do,” Haveeru reported Naseer as saying.
“JP especially is adding many new members, which is not something of concern to PPM. It’s not like they are removing parts of PPM’s roof to complete theirs – rather, they are removing parts of MDP’s roof to complete their roof,” Naseer was reported to have said.
Feydhoo constituency MP Alhan Fahmy who has recently moved from the MDP to the JP said that he did not wish to respond to these comments. When switching parties, the former Vice President of the MDP was accompanied by the former MDP President, Dr Ibrahim Didi, and former MDP Secretary General Hassan Shah.
The JP – led by prominent Maldivian businessman and MP Ibrahim Gasim – currently has six members in the People’s Majlis, whilst the PPM – led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – has 18 seats in the house.
The most recent statistics from the Elections Commission (EC) show that the JP has lost six members in the past three weeks, whilst the PPM has gained 322, bringing the official membership figures to 5,914 and 16,565 respectively.
The EC figures also show that the JP has 2,175 forms waiting to be processed. The PPM is shown to have 1,211.
The JP Registrar General Mohamed ‘Inthi’ Imthiyaz told Haveeru earlier this month that the main obstacle increasing the party membership was the speed at which the forms could be processed.
Vice President of the EC Ahmed Fayaz said that the processing of the forms may take a few weeks due to the limited resources available to the commission.
Forms must be checked to ensure the identity of the party member before they can be officially affiliated to one particular party but said it was not common for forms to be rejected.
Should the unprocessed forms be assumed as valid, the membership of the top four parties in terms of popularity would be follows:
- Maldivian Democratic Party – 48,843 – 29 seats in the Majlis
- Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) – 27,706 – 15 seats
- Progressive Party of Maldives – 17,776 – 18 seats
- Jumhoree Party – 8,089 – 6 seats
The MDP is currently the sole opposition party in the 77 member chamber. It has lost 35 party members in the past month as well as suffering from a number of defecting MPs since the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7.
Nasheed recently received the support of 66 percent of his party’s members last month to be the party’s nominee for the next presidential elections.
The PPM’s parliamentary group constituency leader Abdullah Yameen told Haveeru yesterday that his party is the most likely to win a presidential election without having to form a coalition.
“But the PPM must declare a suitable and generally accepted presidential candidate. Then we can certainly avoid a second round, and win the polls in the first round itself,” Yameen said.
The party’s presidential primaries are to be held next February. President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hussein maintains that he can hold fresh elections no earlier than July 2013 without a constitutional amendment.
The largest party, by membership, in the current unity government, the DRP, was keen to stress to Minivan News last week that it had only signed an official coalition agreement with the JP.
“There has been a slight confusion. No coalition agreement was signed – we are part of a national unity government after having accepted an invitation from President Mohamed Waheed Hassan,” explained DRP Spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef.
Shareef’s comments followed the announcement of a joint parliamentary group, including all pro-government parties other than the DRP.
Days earlier, MP for unity government party the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) declared its cooperation with the DRP to have come to an end following what it perceived to have been DRP support for an MDP proposed motion in the Majlis.
The DRP was founded by former President Gayoom to contest in the country’s first ever multi-party elections in 2008. The party split after internal ructions in 2011 resulting in the formation on the PPM.
The PPM’s official representation in the Majlis was zero until April, when Ahmed Shareef won the party’s first seat in the Thimarafushi by-election.
Since that time, as well as being allowed to add MPs previously registered as ‘independents’ to its parliamentary group, the PPM has benefitted from a number of MPs crossing the floor from other parties.
Former President Gayoom believes that the party’s support will eventually see its official membership figures reach 30,000.