Former opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Abdu Raheem has signed with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) after resigning from his previous party earlier this week.
Raheem marked his signing at an MDP rally yesterday with a speech in which he called for the government to resolve the country’s currency crisis by “getting rid of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) Governor, Fazeel Najeeb.”
”Instead of giving high priority to his responsibilities in that position, he gives priority to other things in life,” Raheem claimed.
Raheem’s joining the MDP follows in the footsteps of the former DRP Deputy Leader Ali Waheed, DRP Sports Wing head Hassan Shujau and deputy head Assad ‘Adubarey’ Ali, and leaves the MDP one vote behind the allied opposition parties.
With Raheem the MDP’s parliamentary group controls 35 votes, including MP ‘Redwave’ Saleem who has signed a coalition agreement to vote with the party.
The alliance of opposition parties, including the DRP, Jumhoree Party (JP), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the People’s Alliance (PA) control 36 votes, although given the present hostility between Gayoom’s faction of the DRP and that of Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, this tally is less than assured.
Neither the MDP or the opposition parties control a brute voting majority of 39 in the 77 member Majlis, a situation with the potential to give the balance of power to the six independents: Ismail Abdul Hameed, Ahmed ‘Sun’ Shiyam Mohamed, Ahmed Amir, Ibrahim Riza and Mohamed Zubair.
Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed predicted that closely-fought bills – such as the government’s proposed income tax on those earning over Rf 30,000 – could potentially be swung by the independent votes.
“Since the parliament is going to be nearly equally divided between government and opposition, come June my inclination is that in matters where a clear parliamentary majority of 39 votes is required, responsible decision making from the independents will be crucial,” Nasheed told Minivan News.
MDP MP Eva Abdulla said the party was starting the next session of parliament “with an entire legislative package to implement the government’s economic policy, including a number of amendments as well as new bills, mainly taxation. “
While a number of MPs had already expressed opposition to the income tax bill, “these bills have been widely discussed with stakeholders and we feel the opposition is coming by and large from those still adamant on defending their own vested financial interests,” she said. “This is what they have done in parliament for the last two years.”
“We are confident that with the new majority not only can we pursue the legislative requirements of the government’s economic policy more smoothly, but also reverse some of the laws they had previously disfigured,” she said.