Independent MP for Meedhoo constituency and chairman of the Sun Travel Group Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam Mohamed is reported to be establishing his own political party under the title of the ‘Maldives Development Alliance’.
Local newspaper Haveeru has reported that more than one hundred people attended a meeting held at the Nalahiya Hotel in Male’ last night during which the formation of the party was discussed.
Shiyam was unavailable for comment at the time of press.
The President of the Elections Commission (EC) Fuad Thaufeeq said that he had not yet received any information on the new party. Haveeru said that the registration process was set to begin within a week.
A member of the EC stated that, in order to register a political party, a written request must be submitted containing the names of 50 people who support the party’s formation. After this initial registration, the party is given one year to gain a minimum of 3000 members.
The largest political party in the Maldives, by membership, is the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with around 48000 members, followed by the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) with around 27000, and then the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) with around 16000.
There are currently 15 political parties registered in the Maldives, although only six of these have maintained more than the minimum 3000 members.
In a leaked audio clip released earlier this year, Shiyam was heard criticising the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the head of the Majlis’s minority leading party, the PPM.
In the clip, Shiyam discussed the diminishing trust in the former president with Gayoom’s half brother Abdulla Yameen. Yameen is currently the parliamentary group leader for the PPM.
Both men were heard denigrating Gayoom’s political support and warning against his running again for the presidency. Rumours that Gayoom would contest the next presidential election on behalf of the PPM have persisted.
Shiyam expressed disappointment with Gayoom’s refusal to issue him a diplomatic passport and give him land for a boat yard in industrial Thilafushi Island. “These are the only two favours I ever asked of Maumoon,” Shiyam said.
Shiyam was formerly a deputy leader of the DRP, the party formed by Gayoom in 2005 to contest the country’s first multi-party elections. The DRP splintered in 2011, resulting in the formation of the PPM.
In 2010, Shiyam was reported to have had the worst attendance record of any MP in the Majlis.
Rising political tensions in the country have resulted in a number of MPs switching parties, with the PPM and the Jumhooree Party (JP) benefitting from recent defections.
Tensions within the government’s ruling coalition yesterday saw members of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) declare their alliance with the DRP to be over after members of the latter party supported a motion from the sole opposition party, the MDP, to debate police brutality in the Majlis.