Thasmeen claims silver lining as DRP MP Ali Waheed “jumps ship”

Opposition leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has claimed that the prospect of an Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voting majority in parliament – a potential scenario following  recent defections of DRP members to the ruling party – could have a silver lining for his supporters come election time.

Thasmeen said he believed if the MDP’s claims of having overall control of the Majlis proved true, the government at the 2013 general election would be unable to escape blame for recent economic reforms he believes have failed the public.

Thasmeen, who is himself currently embroiled in factional party infighting with a group aligned with former DRP leader and Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was speaking as Ali Waheed, a former Deputy Leader of his party, joined the MDP over the weekend.

Waheed, who joined former DRP members Ahmed Assad ‘Adubarey’ and DRP Sports Wing Head Hassan Shujau in signing up to the MDP, gave a speech citing concerns about the democratic nature of his former party. Waheed has strongly criticised President Mohamed Nasheed in the past.

“We did not bring change to the country for a person to advance because he belongs to a certain family or clan, but for a person to move up through merit,” Waheed said. “Today we can see that those who could not digest this have created different factions and we can see the state of the party [DRP] we formed with our hard work. Therefore, because [the party] has become an inheritance, I have let go and walked out empty-handed.”

Thasmeen said a majority would mean the governing party would be no longer able to blame opposition for its own failings – something he feels they had succeeded in doing previously.

“Firstly, I am not sure that the MDP have gained a parliamentary majority; as far as I am aware only two [MPs] have shifted to the party. Certainly if [a majority] happens, it would pave the way for the government to get things passed through parliament the way they want them, and this would be a new era for politics,” he said.

Thasmeen claimed that as the DRP had never itself held a political majority, it had effectively been subjected to checks and balances in parliament resulting from needing to agree unanimously with opposition coalition partners. As a result of this need for unanimous compromise, the DRP head claimed that the opposition’s ability to block government legislation had been used only in rare instances.

He added that in the event that the MDP might potentially claim a majority within the Majlis, the country’s changing political dynamic would not significantly change his own party’s policies of trying to hold the government to account.

“One thing is clear – the government has been successful in blaming parliament for what have been failures of its policies.  Come the next election, they will pay the price for the programmes that have failed, and this will be something of a silver lining for the DRP,” he said.

“Ali Waheed’s shift [to the MDP] does not make any difference to our work as the opposition or possible collaboration with the government. It is a joint parliamentary group that sets our policy and if we agree strongly about an issue with the government then we will work with them on it. We take stands on principle, no matter the strength of the MDP.”

Thasmeen highlighted his party’s stand on government policy areas such as the economy which this month led to protests – said to be instigated as a youth movement – held in Male’ over concerns about the cost of living.

However, the DRP leader added that recent divides within the party linked to the formation of the Z-DRP faction had negatively impacted its opposition role.

“There is no question that these divisions have weakened the DRP. Unease had been created in the party, but I do not believe this is a challenge that cannot be overcome,” he said.

Referring particularly to Waheed’s defection, Thasmeen said he believed that MPs elected on a DRP ticket should not then choose to use divides within the party as an “excuses to jump ship” to the MDP.

DRP post-Waheed

Following Waheed’s departure from the party, Thasmeen said that the country’s economic reforms – such as devaluing the rufiya – would remain a key concern for the DRP when parliament next reconvened.

“The government has indicated that it will release proposals to address economic concerns and bring down the dollar rate,” he said. “We do accept the fact that revenue has to be increased, but we would like to see serious attempts to reduce state expenditure and ensure revenue is not being wasted.”

The DRP leader claimed that the party was not specifically calling on the government to slash spending in a single area such as political appointees, but instead asked for a concensus on areas such as in the funding of new offices for local councils formed during local elections held in February.

“We are willing to support spending cuts across the board; but it is important that this is done with a consensus-based approach.”

On the back of attempts by dismissed deputy DRP leader Umar Naseer – currently aligned with the DRP faction – to try and file a case with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over allegations the MDP had bribed DRP members to join its ranks, Thasmeen said he was not certain of the truth about such claims.

“Without knowing the facts it is not an easy situation to comment on. However, as a party, the MDP has a number of policies that have failed,” he said. “The forced exchange rate is one [policy] that has impacted the lives of many Maldivians, there is no logic in jumping ship to suddenly support it.”

Confident of a majority

MDP MP Ahmed Hamza said the party was confident it would achieve a voting majority as opposition MPs “realise that the party’s approach is not constructive.”

“I think they are frustrated,” Hamza claimed. “Ali Waheed said he had waited two years without seeing a responsible opposition.”

He acknowledged that the loss of MPs risked destabilising the already split opposition: “Ali Waheed was a major voice in the opposition,” he observed.

A voting majority favouring the MDP would “speed the efficiency at passing legislation to support government policy,” Hamza said, claiming that this would allow the government to swifting bring in changes to stablise the economy.


21 thoughts on “Thasmeen claims silver lining as DRP MP Ali Waheed “jumps ship””

  1. It took half a year to get to this point, but maybe compromise is not the only way to move forward.

    See, if we had had proper democratic proceedures like a real Presidential Veto that requires a 2/3rd majority to override it - then the drastic measures, and infantile politics we've seen wouldn't be necessary. But these mistakes need to be fixed and we need to move towards a more mature democracy.

    Maybe a simple majority now will help us along this path.

  2. There should be a mechanism to protect MDP against defectors from other parties. Such defections could be quite opportunistic and unprincipled. It could actually weaken MDP by demoralising some long-standing members of the party.

  3. Hi

    Thasneem should worry about salvaging what is left of his floundering party. Furthermore, since his personal finances are in such a sorry state - thanks to the Zaeem - he ought to focus on a solution for this rather than making claims about 'silver linings' for the forthcoming elections. Its time he understood he is a 'has been' and exit gracefully from politics.

  4. good point michael. it did seem a bit like the last desperate years of Gayoom for few minutes, when he was recruiting all the young ministers all of whom now have turned against him....

    But such is how we learn eh.

  5. Thasmeen is right in the saying that there will be no excuses for any failures by the ruling party come election day. He also needs to more than compromise, he needs to throw his weight behind bills which he deems beneficial, take credit for successes and distance himself from failures like any self respecting politician.

    In todays' political environment an opposition figure feels obligated to prove that the night is day lest he be in agreement with the President. Thas needs to avoid this label of 'opposition' before he gets relegated along the likes of Hassan Saeed, Gasim, Umar Naseer etc to the dustbin of failed politicians.

    For the MDP support base which has ignored govt peccadilloes just to avoid the risk of DRP-PA taker over with the agenda of Pharoah worship- it would be a welcome relief to see an opposition which has a bigger more inclusive ideology more in line with the peoples aspirations.

    Thasmeen play your cards right, you can be the next President.

  6. "... the DRP head claimed that the opposition’s ability to block government legislation had been used only in rare instances."

    Of course, these "rare" instances have mounted to those where big business interests lie. Key example is the amount of time it took for the tax legislation to go through. We will see what happens to the next round on this.

    "The DRP leader claimed that the party was not specifically calling on the government to slash spending in a single area such as political appointees, but instead asked for a concensus on areas such as in the funding of new offices for local councils formed during local elections held in February."

    Aha, but who forced the formation of all these councils? Thasmeen has already forgotten his party's own policy? Didn't he realise that all these councils will need office space? Where are they supposed to operate from? He's admitting to a failure of his own party's policy here.

    If he wishes to cut spending not just in one area, why not reduce his own pay and benefit packet and those of his fellow MPs? To my understanding, MPs have NEVER reduced their pay or benefits! That goes to show their commitment to the country.

  7. Thasmeen speaks like a true fisherman. If MDP majority is good for his party, he might as well let go of all DRP MPs.. Putting on a brave face is one thing but this 'silverling' explanation is simply ridiculous.

  8. We have observed that Ahmed Thasmeen Ali saying that President Nasheed is doing unlawful things and have no clear economic policy. But we also notice that he is unable to come out with alternative ideas and policies.
    Thasmeen have no leadership quality in him and it is better for him to give up his post as opposition leader and hand over the rim of leadership who is capable. Maybe, some like Hassan Saeed!

  9. People following Maldives media would know that Thasmeen is the least scrutinized politician, despite gross incompetence and loans from BML. As the leader of opposition, people have the right to know who he is.

    He could be funding news sites to craft a clean image.

  10. Thasmeen is making the best out of a bad situation. Good PR is essential for any political party.

    His faction counts among its members a great number of technocrats. This is both a strength and a weakness.

    Populists spouting meaningless platitudes are an essential component political parties given the level of social, moral and educational development in our country. Thasmeen's faction lacks this key ingredient.

    So does the DQP. Imad Solih is clearly not enough. They need more loudmouths to appeal to the grassroots members. This might be one of the reasons why the Z-DRP is stronger in terms of public support. The label of MDP-sympathizer has already tarnished Thasmeen's image among the opposition.

    The political reality of today does not allow for the opposition to display open support for government policies. Whether bipartisan support for bills submitted in the national interest is good or bad is a value judgment today (although it should not be so). However realities will force Thasmeen to become sidelined. The Z-DRP will lead the opposition until its leaders are brought down. This might be what the ruling clan is planning. Only time will tell what goes on after sunset in this country.

  11. In many countries MPs cannot jump ship whenever they like. They must wait for 6 months before they join a new party. I think we should adopt something like that into our system. In this case Gayoom lost the majority and soon he will find himself all alone.

  12. If this is a blame game, Thasmeen himself is to be blamed for Non Paid Loan he owes to BML. He should first clear his mess before blaming others.

  13. What the hell Thasmeen is talking about now. All these days, DRP claims they have parliament majority so Thasmeen was allocated a rooms with " Majority Leader" tag. After "cross floor" Thasmeen has changed his tone and was claiming DRP never had majority but effectively managing the pack. Alright Thasmeen, whatever you say, we believe you but face the reality please..

  14. “We did not bring change to the country for a person to advance because he belongs to a certain family or clan, but for a person to move up through merit,” ???

    Exactly what did Ali Waheed do to 'bring change to this country'? We are but a forgetful nation willing to believe anything our leaders tell us. Like a flock we follow the cronies leading MDP in welcoming Mr Boom Boom Ali Waheed into the party.

    Disheartening to see MDP leadership letting go of the values that made so many people support the party in the first place.

  15. @ dheyo
    Going rate for party members.
    1. Rf 15m for loudest MP in the opposition
    2. Rf 12m for the next level down
    3. Rf 5m for a opposition council member
    4. Rf 1m for a opposition activist

  16. Didn't Thasmeen hire a PR personnel from the UK. What did he work on? How to loose 2 MPs in 5 days?

  17. @ infidel

    "whats a ‘silverling’ ??"
    Some thing like bling bling. 🙂

  18. First task for MDP after winning the majority in Majlis should be to revoke the monetary and other benefits given to the Former President Maumoon.

    As the Leader of the Opposition party, he should not be entitled for any of these benefits. No security or monetary benefits for any former President who remains active in politics.

    Only after this, should MDP consider other matters


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