Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Nolhivarum constituency Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed has opted to join the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
The DRP was founded by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and now led by his former vice presidential nominee, MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, after a split in 2011 that saw Gayoom and his supporters leave the party to form the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
During a small ceremony held at the DRP head office, Nasheed signed to the party in front of party leader Thasmeen.
The defection comes the day following his defeat in the MDP’s parliamentary group elections, in which he contested for the position of one of the two deputy leaders.
MP Nasheed placed last after receiving five votes out of the 30 members. However, he said during the ceremony that the defeat in the party election had nothing to do with his defection to DRP.
Speaking during the ceremony after joining the party, the MP said that even though former President Mohamed Nasheed had a vision to reform the country, his aides never had the same thinking.
He also claimed that he joined DRP because he wholeheartedly believed the DRP was consistent in upholding its policies, and had“civilised” policies to offer for the nation.
“MDP is a party that I love. To sell MDP’s ideology, I took it on my own shoulders and carried it to the international stage. I spent days in imprisonment to uphold that ideology. But the truth is that our former presidents can do little to help this country. We cannot remain tied with the past,” he said.
Nasheed argued that whenever there was a conflict of opinion among a group of members the matter should not be settled “in the wrestling ring”.
He also said that both the parliament and the courts deserved privileges and respect.
“All boys who get ‘A reports’ are in DRP”
“In my view, we should never disrepute the state organs. At the same time I do admit to the fact that both the country’s legislature and judiciary have their problems. I believe the DRP is the only disciplined party that can solve the problems in a civilised manner,” he said.
Nasheed also criticised the recent anti government protests led by the MDP, contending that freedom of assembly should be exercised within the law.
“I do not believe that it is freedom of assembly when protesters overturn a passing van,” he said. “I believe in the right to freedom of assembly. But it is not freedom of assembly when you shatter the windows of a car and injure two school boys in it.”
Nasheed, who spoke highly in favor of his new party, said that DRP was a formidable vehicle that only needs to be activated by a few young people.
The MP claimed the party “has the most able and competent individuals in the country”, which is reflected from the performance of DRP cabinet ministers.
“All those boys who get ‘A reports’ are in DRP and all those who gets ‘B reports’ are with the MDP. What we are seeing today is that the country is being run by boys who end up with ‘C reports’ while those who get ‘A reports’ and ‘B reports’ are kept sidelined. This is something that public should clearly think about,” MP Nasheed said.
MP Eva Abdulla and Ilyas Labeeb calling the shots in deciding party whip line: Colonel Nasheed
Nasheed also alleged that MP Eva Abdulla and MP Ilyas Labeeb were calling the shots in deciding the party whip line in parliamentary votes, and claimed that there was no discussion between the remaining members of the parliamentary group.
“[MDP’s] whip line comes depending on what Eva Abdulla and Ilyas Labeeb feel about the matter. That is not how I want to follow the party whip line. When you vote in parliament, the first priority is the nation. The nation is bigger that any of our individual interests,” Nasheed said, expressing his frustration.
“The DRP is a party that upholds principles. Those principles are followed by the members of the DRP parliamentary group. When we don’t vote on a matter, we have reasons and justifications to our actions,” he said.
Following the addition of a member to his party’s parliamentary group, an ecstatic Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that Nasheed and he had common views and principles.
The DRP leader described MP Nasheed as a person of both conviction and principle.
“The way he acts in parliament will prove whether he is a person who sticks to principle,” Thasmeen said.
Meanwhile DRP Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Mausoom tweeted welcoming Nasheed’s decision to join the party.
“Happy Day! Welcome [MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed] to DRP, the responsible political party of Maldives,” he tweeted.
Speaking to Minivan News about the defection, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that MP Nasheed and the rest of the parliamentary group members did not share common thinking.
Although he said he did not know the exact reason for the defection, Ghafoor suggested that the move could be for the reason that Nasheed wanted to assure his re-election to parliament.
“Maybe it was an attempt to secure his re-election. But we see that re-election possibilities are high within our own party. We also noticed that he was working very hard to get a position in the parliamentary group which did not bear much fruit,” he said.
MP Colonel Nasheed began his parliamentary career in 2007 following a by-election victory for the Male’ seat of the constitutional assembly that drafted the current constitution. He won the seat on an MDP ticket with a support base of 7,000 votes, but left the MDP to join the Social Liberal Party (SLP) following disputes.
Nasheed again rejoined the MDP ahead of the 2009 parliamentary elections and won the seat of Nolhivaram constituency on an MDP ticket.