Jumhooree Party MP for Haa Dhaal Hanimadhoo, Hussain Shahudhy, joined the Progressive Party of Maldives at the ruling party’s mass rally Thursday night.
Shahudhy’s membership form was presented to PPM leader former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom along with forms from new members joining from the atolls and state-owned enterprises.
Of the 15 JP MPs elected to the parliament in March 2014, seven have now switched to the PPM. With its latest recruit, the ruling party now has 47 MPs in the 85-member house.
Coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance controls five seats while the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has 21 MPs.
In a show of strength ahead of an MDP protest in late November, the PPM had also signed up two JP MPs, Ahmed Mubeen and Abdulla Ahmed.
JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim, who had split from the ruling coalition in early 2015, declared his support for President Abdulla Yameen in the wake of the September 28 blast on the president’s speedboat, which the government says was caused by a bomb. Yameen escaped unhurt, but First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim was hospitalised for spine injuries.
Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, several of his associates and three soldiers are in custody on suspicion of plotting the alleged assassination attempt.
In May, the central bank froze the bank accounts of Gasim’s Villa Shipping and Trading and subsidiary companies over a controversial fine of US$90.4million. The bank accounts were only released after the JP backed the government in several crucial votes in parliament and agreed upon a two-year payment plan.
The civil court has since ruled in favour of Villa in the dispute over the resort properties.
In February and May, several JP MPs and island councillors also joined the PPM ahead of mass protests staged by the opposition alliance.