Thulhaadhoo MP Nazim Rashad becomes third MDP MP to join PPM

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Nazim Rashad signed for the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) last night, becoming the third opposition MP to cross the floor since the parliamentary polls in March.

The addition of the MP for Baa Atoll Thulhaadhoo brings the PPM’s number of MPs in the 18th People’s Majlis to 42 – one short of a simple majority in the 85-member house. However, along with the five MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), the ruling coalition now has 47 MPs.

The opposition MDP’s numbers are reduced to 23 while the Jumhooree Party (JP) has 13 MPs. The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has one MP while Madaveli MP Muaz Mohamed Rasheed remains the sole independent.

Following a signing ceremony at Muleeage last night where Rashad handed over his membership form to President Abdulla Yameen, MP Ahmed Nihan – parliamentary group leader of the PPM – took to social media to announce that the ruling party now has 50 percent of parliamentary seats.

Although the PPM won 33 seats in the March 22 parliamentary elections, four out of five independent MPs along with MDP MP Mohamed Musthafa and two JP MPs switched to the ruling party while MDP MP Ali Mohamed signed for the PPM last month.

MP Nazim Rashad, a former Islam teacher, was elected to the 17th People’s Majlis as an independent and joined the MDP in 2010.

Several MPs who have crossed the floor have said that they joined the ruling party to ensure development of islands in their constituencies.

Speaking to Minivan News today, MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy, however, dismissed the justification as “utter nonsense.”

“They are just baseless and unprincipled. Why did they in the first place get elected with MDP tickets and then defect?” he asked.