President Mohamed Nasheed has appointed former council member of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Hassan Shujau, as state transport minister, amid a recruitment spree that has netted the ruling party a number of senior opposition members.
Reports that Shujau and DRP MP Ali Waheed were planning to join the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) began circulating last weekend. The party confirmed Shujau had joined, although Waheed has remained silent on his decision, telling media that any political decisions would “be made publicly”.
This week Minivan News was told by a senior official of Z-DRP faction that both Ali Waheed and Shujau were to join MDP for an amount of money which is “so high that they won’t need to work ever again if they accepted.’’
Yesterday a special ceremony was held at the President’s Office to appoint Shujau to his new post, during which President Nasheed said that he was confident that Shujau had the capability to fulfill his responsibility as the state transport minister.
Nasheed also said he was pleased that Shuaju has made his decision to join the government and implement its manifesto after being affiliated with another political party.
Nasheed has also appointed Sheikh Gubaadh Abubakur, a former senior member of the DRP member and one time close ally of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as undersecretary in the President’s Office.
After the government confirmed Shujau’s decision to join MDP, speculation has risen that Waheed would join as well.
Local media reports that a special ceremony is pending to mark the signing of MP Waheed, a move DRP Spokesperson Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef has acknowledged would be “a great blow” to the party.
“Ali Waheed is a rising star with widespread support, and it would be a great blow to the party if he were to leave,” Shareef said recently.
Meanwhile several opposition figures have begun criticising Ali Waheed for his supposed decision.
Local media reported that Z-DRP faction MP Ahmed Nihan had condemned Waheed and said that if he signed with MDP, “he is betraying those people who elected him as their MP.”
Leader of DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told Minivan News that he did not believe Waheed would join the ruling party after running for parliament on a DRP ticket.
Furthermore, MDP confirmed that former Human Rights Commissioner of the Maldives (HRCM) Ahmed Saleem has joined the party.
“When I ran for the membership of HRCM, they issued a three-line whip to vote for me. They backed me when I ran for the membership of MBC’s board as well,” said Saleem, who was voted out of the position by the opposition majority parliament.
“I served the government for 42 years yet they rendered me unneeded. But MDP supported me even then.”
The DRP is currently riven by an internal political split as a faction loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom have sought to oust party leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, who has fallen out of favour with the party’s founder and ‘honorary leader’.