Dhivehi Rayithuge Party (DRP) Spokesman Ibrahim Shareef has emphasised that his party had never signed up to any official coalition agreement, after local media reported the formation of a pro-government Joint Parliamentary Group (JPG) excluding his party.
“There has been a slight confusion. No coalition agreement was signed – we are part of a national unity government after having accepted an invitation from President Mohamed Waheed Hassan,” explained Shareef.
“We will support the government in matters that are in the best interest of the nation, rather than of other parties,” he added.
The JPG has been reported as including members of all pro-government parties, with the more prominent positions going to members of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).
DQP MP Riyaz Rasheed told local newspaper Haveeru that the PPM, the Majlis’s minority leader, will now hold its parliamentary group meetings in conjunction with these other members.
Minivan News was unable to find a PPM member available for comment at the time of press.
Haveeru reported that, when asked why the DRP had not been invited to join the group, Rasheed answered that it was because they had joined the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
“Why invite them to join us. They vote against the government on matters submitted to the parliament against the government. They had and still are conspiring with MDP,” Haveeru quoted Rasheed.
The MDP, the former ruling party, still holds 31 of 77 seats in the Majlis, although it has suffered from a number of defections in recent months. The DRP currently holds 15 seats, while the PPM has 18.
Last weekend, it was reported that MDP MP for Maradhoo constituency, Hassan Adil, was also reconsidering his membership.
The remainder of the seats in the Majlis belong to members of Waheed’s unity government.
Shareef told Minivan News that the JPG was nothing new and had existed prior to the formation of the unity government, stating that the parties concerned were just “twisting” old things to court controversy.
“Riyaz is there to take advantage of being the only DQP member in the parliament, although he acts more like a PPM member. He is a man on his own and we are not worried about his antics,” said Shareef.
Riyaz, whom Shareef described as a “cartoon character”, last week declared his party’s coalition with the DRP to be over, baulking at what he felt was DRP support for a controversial MDP motion in the house.
The motion in question – a debate on police brutality – brought such strong protests in the chamber that the session was prematurely ended.
A DQP statement the next day called on all parties to refrain from actions which might “encourage the efforts of former President Mohamed Nasheed… to bring the two oldest institutions of the country into disrepute and cause loss of public confidence [in the police and military].”
The number of parties in the Majlis may be set to expand after former DRP deputy leader and MP for Meedhoo constituency Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam officially registered his intention to form his own party with the Elections Commission (EC).
The party, to be called the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA), obtained the signatures of 50 people in support of the party and will be given nine months to gain 3000 members.
Vice President of the EC Ahmed Fayaz confirmed that the new party had received a permit, stating that Shiyam’s signature on the list was accompanied by fellow independent MP Ahmed Amir.
Shiyam was not responding to calls at the time of press.
Shareef admitted that Shiyam’s party would inevitably draw DRP members from his constituency.
“There is no doubt we will lose some members,” he said.
“But we have the wherewithal to withstand all these challenges. Once we are established and have earned peoples trust we will overcome these differences,” he added.
Referring to the DRP’s 2011 split with the PPM, led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Shareef concluded: “We survived Gayoom and Shiyam is no bigger a threat.”
Regardless of this new competition, the DRPs parliamentary numbers are set to be reduced after Maafannu-West MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem announced his intention to leave the party, for the second time, earlier this month.