Three members of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) have defected to resort tycoon-turned-politician Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).
DRP MPs Hussain Mohamed, Hassan Latheef and Ahmed Mohamed announced their defection during a meeting held by JP at its party headquarters last Monday night.
Meanwhile former DRP Leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, his wife MP Visam Ali and party’s Deputy Leader MP Rozeyna Adam defected to the opposition MDP last week.
The DRP backed opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s Presidential Candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed in the last Presidential Elections, shortly after the Supreme Court annulled the first presidential polls held in September, in which Nasheed won 45.45 percent of the popular vote.
The new change of sides, leaves the DRP – who won 29 seats in parliament during last parliamentary elections – downsized to just three MPs, with its interim Leader MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed, Parliamentary Group Leader MP Abdulla Mausoom and MP Mohamed Ramiz as remaining members.
However, since the fact that neither the MDP nor the coalition of parties supporting President Yameen Abdul Gayoom have the sufficient number of MPs to form a simple working majority of 39 MPs, means the DRP would still continue to be an influential swing party in deciding parliamentary matters.
This is because, the government coalition – even with the support of all independent MPs – would still be able to command just 35 MPs – four MPs short of a majority– while the opposition MDP commands 36 MPs.
The change in party compositions in parliament could also possibly jeopardize the opposition MDP’s majority in parliamentary select-committees, which they gained following DRP’s decision to back Nasheed in the presidential polls.
MP Abdulla Mausoom who took part in Monday night’s JP meeting told local media that although he had not formally joined the JP, he “now supports the JP”. However, Mausoom said that he still intends to remain in DRP and follow the DRP’s whip-line.
Mausoom’s announcement of his support to the JP also coincides with his appointment to the position of General Manager of the Sun Island Resort and Spa – a resort owned by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim.
“Tourism has always been very close at heart. I’ve taken over as the resort’s General Manager yesterday,” Mausoom told the press earlier.
DRP in ICU
In a press conference held this Tuesday morning, Interim Leader of DRP MP ‘Colonel’ Nasheed admitted that his party is now “in ICU” and appealed to the support of party members to revive the party.
“But, as a doctor who is attending to the DRP’s condition I shall not give up hope on her. I am sure that this party will be revived. DRP will again become a powerful political party in Maldives in a near future,” Nasheed told the press.
“I am not [former Maldives autocratic ruler for thirty years and founder of DRP] Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. I am not [former DRP Leader] Thasmeen. So my strategy would be different,”
Nasheed also said that the DRP was currently in the process of an internal audit as it has standing debt of approximately MVR 10 million. He however said that the party would be taking the responsibility for debts it had incurred instead of blaming its former leaders.
“I won’t be able to sort this mess out on my own. This party has members across the country. We fell into this stage because we did not have the needed active members. So I am calling out to all party members to become more active,” Nasheed said.
He further added that the DRP will be fielding its candidates in the upcoming local council elections and the parliamentary election. The party’s target is, Nasheed said, to win the mayorship of Male’ City Council and win at least 10 seats in parliament.
Following the change, the DRP now has 3 MPs, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has 36 MPs, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has 20 MPs, the JP has 7 MPs, resort tycoon Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam’s Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) has 2 MPs, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has one MP and five independent MPs.
Three out of the 77 seats are now vacant. The vacant seats include seats belonging to two former DRP MPs Ali Azim and Ahmed Nashiz – who were unseated after the Supreme Court held that they had unpaid debts – and the Mulaku Constituency seat which belonged to President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
The Elections Commission earlier said that by-elections for the seats would not be held as the current parliament’s term will expire before six months, and as per the constitution, a by-election is required to be held if the parliament’s term has more than six months before expiration.