Velidhoo constituency MP Abdulla Yamin has left the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to sign for the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
Speaking at a signing ceremony on Thursday evening (January 29) in the capital Malé, Yamin criticised the MDP leadership, questioning the party’s youth policy.
“I see promise in this government, our youth sees promise in this government. I see youth after youth rising with the help of the government,” Yamin is reported to have told PPM supporters.
The switch comes less than a month after Yamin issued a public apology for breaching the MDP’s three-line whip for the controversial Majlis vote to remove two Supreme Court judges.
“I will not repeat the mistake in the future,” read Yamin’s apology letter, mandated by the party’s internal disciplinary committee. He gave no explanation for his absence from the Majlis for the vote.
Yamin was not responding to calls at the time of publication.
Four other MDP members issued similar apologies for breaking the whip, while former Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik was expelled from the party after the appeals committee found him to have broken the whip on five occasions.
Despite contesting the party’s decision, Moosa has stated he will neither take the party to court, nor join any opposition groups.
MDP Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has criticised Yamin’s switch – the fourth such defection since the Majlis polls last year, though he expressed confidence there would be no more departures.
“The principal of a proper representative is based in people deciding on a candidate from a party. If he wants to change party he must resign from his seat and contest again. That’s how people cross the floor in developed democracies,” he told Minivan News.
Last year, the now-opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) pledged to sue three of its former MPs who switched to the PPM shortly after the March elections.
The PPM was offering “unattainably high incentives” to MPs to defect, suggested the JP, accusing the members in question of breaking vows made to the public.
Yamin is also an advisor at Raajje TV, a station traditionally aligned with the MDP since its launch in 2010. Ghafoor said he felt the station’s content would be unaffected.
Yamin’s transfer increased the PPM’s seats in the Majlis to 44, while its ally the Maldivian Development Alliance has five MPs in the 85-seat house.
The opposition MDP and JP – holding 21 and 13 seats, respectively – this week officially announced an agreement to protect the Constitution against what they argue are persistent breaches by the government.
The religious Adhaalath Party, which has one MP in the Majlis, is reported to be joining future talks, though no official word has come from the party.
Two thirds of MPs present and voting – equalling 57 members of the full house – were required to remove the Supreme Court judges, though the move was subsequently condemned by local and international groups.
The support of three quarters of the full house is needed to amend the Constitution, with the ruling party having proposed changes to the age limits of presidential candidates, which would eliminate JP leader Gasim Ibrahim from the 2018 presidential race.
MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed told Raajje TV on Thursday that his aim was to install Gasim as president before holding early elections.
He also explained to Sri Lankan media that the new parliamentary alliance was intended to hold the government accountable.
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