Gasim Ibrahim, the leader of the Jumhooree Party, has denied involvement in rallying support for a motion calling for a no-confidence vote in the speaker of the parliament.
The tourism tycoon said that neither he nor the JP were involved in the effort to remove Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, as claimed by Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan.
Nihan has accused Gasim and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the deposed leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives who is at war with his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen, of orchestrating the plan.
“Neither JP nor I are working to remove Speaker Maseeh. I refute MP Ahmed Nihan’s claims,” Gasim said in a tweet on Wednesday in an announcement that has been widely perceived as a rejection of the motion and one that throws the opposition’s plans to break Yameen’s stranglehold on power into disarray.
The JP, which holds seven seats in the 85-member house, “has never been and will never be involved in anything that may plunge the country into chaos,” he added.
A group of MPs loyal to Gayoom had announced plans to seek a no-confidence vote in Maseeh on the same day that Gasim threw his support behind Gayoom in the civil war roiling the PPM.
He also supported the 78-year-old former president’s decision to withdraw support from Yameen.
Gasim’s businesses subsequently came under pressure, with the high court scheduling hearings in an appeal filed by the state to seize several properties leased to the Villa Group for tourism development.
The government also cracked down on the businesses of some MPs loyal to Gayoom, prompting two lawmakers to reverse their stance and return to Yameen’s fold.
A simple majority of the 85-member house will be needed to remove the speaker.
Along with five MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, the Yameen faction of the PPM ostensibly controls at least 47 seats.
The Gayoom faction has reportedly secured the 15 signatures needed to submit the no-confidence motion, but it is yet to be introduced to the parliament.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, which has 21 seats, declined to comment when asked if the party would support the Gayoom-faction’s motion.
Gayoom’s parliamentary group, launched with eight MPs, is now down to five.