Former defence chief and two MPs among high-profile switches to pro-government parties

Former Chief of Defence Forces Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel and Malé City Councillor Lufshan Shakeeb ‘Loope’ – formerly of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – signed for the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) yesterday.

Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi South, Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, also signed for the PPM today and announced that he would seek re-election on the party’s ticket. Nasheed served in the cabinet of former President Gayoom as information and legal reform minister.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Ahmed Rasheed joined the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP).

Speaking at a ceremony attended by former president and PPM leader, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Jaleel said he joined “to serve the public through PPM,” adding that he believed the current government’s policies would ensure development and “save the country”.

After 32 years of service, the chief of defence forces under former President Mohamed Nasheed retired from the military in the wake of the controversial transfer of presidential power in February 2012.

In January 2013, Jaleel told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee that he believed former President Nasheed had “resigned under duress.”

Shakeeb – city councillor for mid-Henveiru – meanwhile said he decided to join PPM based on the focus and opportunities for youth in the party’s manifesto. The film actor quit the MDP in the wake of the party’s electoral defeat in November 2013.

In addition to Jaleel and Shakeeb, senior members of the Maziya Supporters club as well as television presenter Aminath Namza also signed for PPM at yesterday’s ceremony.

Warm welcome to Moosa Jaleel, Lufshan Shakeeb, Aminath Namza n other prominent figures who joined PPM in my presence last night,” Gayoom tweeted to announce the new members.

Speaking to press at the party office yesterday, Gayoom contended that the new government “could not provide the services it wants to the public without winning the [upcoming local council and parliamentary] elections.”

“A PPM majority will pave the way to go ahead with the PPM manifesto,” he said.

MDP Male’ City Councillor ‘Jambu’ Hassan Afeef also joined the PPM at today’s ceremony. In addition to Nasheed and Afeef, Maldives Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik signed for the party this afternoon.

With the new signings, the PPM currently has two councillors on the 11-member Male’ City Council.

Ahmed Rasheed to JP

MDP MP for Hoarafushi Ahmed Rasheed signed for the JP at a ceremony in the party’s headquarters Maafanu Kunooz yesterday.

JP leader Gasim Ibrahim told reporters that Rasheed had offered to join the party “a long time ago” while he was JP’s sole representative in parliament.

“But I said stay there, in MDP, for now. I believe Ahmed Rasheed is a person who worked very hard and transparently for democracy in the Maldives while in MDP,” the business tycoon said.

Rasheed said he decided to join the JP because the public chose the government coalition in last year’s presidential election.

Praising Gasim for his services to the public, Rasheed said he would seek re-election in the Hoarafushi constituency, adding that parliamentary seats were “more important to the government coalition” than the opposition.

Gasim said that Rasheed would be given the JP ticket without a primary by virtue of being a sitting MP, adding that he believed JP MPs should be able to contest on behalf of the coalition for their constituencies.

The Hoarafushi MP was among six MDP MPs who voted against the oppposition party’s whip line to approve President Abdulla Yameen’s ministerial appointees last month.