MP of the opposition-aligned People’s Alliance (PA) Ahmed Rasheed has announced on MNBC his decision to leave the party “to better serve the public as an independent.”
Rasheed, who spoke to the state broadcaster on Sunday, also said he was open to joining other parties “if it was within the public interest.”
The PA’s acting Secretary General Ahmed Musthafa however told Minivan News today that he was unable to confirm whether Rasheed had left the party: “We don’t believe he has moved. I saw him yesterday,” he said, adding that the party would issue a formal communication on the matter in the next few days.
“Maybe he has been pressured by another party such as the MDP to join, although I don’t think he will,” Musthafa said.
Once Rasheed officially informs parliament of his new status as an independent, his departure from the PA could force the committee composition to be revisited for a third time this session.
While the PA would be entitled to fewer seats, parliamentary rules dictate that Rasheed must be given a seat on at least one committee as an Independent.
MP Ahmed Rasheed represents the constituency of Isdhoo in Laamu Atoll, an area of strong opposition support that voted largely for PA candidates under its former coalition agreement with the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).
The PA decided decided on July 13 to break the longstanding coalition agreement, after internal strife within the DRP saw the party split into factions loyal to its leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali or the party’s ‘honorary leader’, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Eleven of the DRP’s MPs met with other opposition parties, including the Jumhoree Party (JP), the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and an independent MP to discuss the creation of a new voting bloc, one which could see the DRP’s majority control of parliament reduced to 13-15 MPs.
DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom raised concern following the split that the PA’s decision to break the coalition agreement would upset constituents in Laamu Atoll who “are very loyal to the DRP but voted for the PA tag.”
Z-DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf responded that such islands “voted for the PA because President Gayoom asked them to do it. Even now Zaeem (Gayoom) is with the PA, they are working together. Voters in Laamu didn’t vote for Thasmeen – they voted for Gayoom.”