The Maldives Development Alliance has denied reports that its national council has decided to leave the ruling coalition.
Citing a confidential source, VFP reported that the council decided not to renew its coalition agreement with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives. It allowed a “free whip” for members to pick a side ahead of the September 23 presidential election.
But MP Ahmed Amir, the MDA’s deputy leader and spokesman, told the Maldives Independent that the VFP report was inaccurate.
“I have not been informed of any such decision made by the council,” said the MP for Kudahuvadhoo, who was campaigning with President Abdulla Yameen in his constituency on Tuesday.
Amir also denied rumours that a council meeting was scheduled for Thursday to make a public announcement.
“The last council meeting was held to decide on the party’s leadership,” he said.
A decision on the coalition agreement with the PPM was deferred at the August 31 council meeting.
MDA leader Ahmed ‘Sun’ Siyam’s absence from President Yameen’s re-election campaign has been fueling speculation over recent weeks.
Last week, the resort tycoon delegated leadership powers to his deputy MP Ali Mauroof. The move was followed by reports that Siyam is in talks to join the opposition coalition.
“The ship is sinking,” Yameen’s former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeted, advising the lawmaker that there was “still time to salvage yourself and businesses”.
He suggested that Siyam, a wealthy businessman and close associate of the president, could be among individuals facing targeted sanctions by the European Union.
An EU framework adopted last month says member countries can freeze funds and impose travel bans on individuals and entities over the jailing of Yameen’s opponents. The annex listing the individuals or entities targeted by the sanctions remains blank.
Jameel, who lives in exile in the UK, said the “EU council and rest of world [are] ready to do all to ensure free and fair election” on September 23.
“Hurry up and come to safety,” he added.
According to Sun Online, a media outlet funded by Siyam, the MDA’s national council on August 31 unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Siyam to temporarily hand over the leader’s powers and responsibilities to MP Mauroof.
Siyam left the council meeting after his resolution was passed. He has since reportedly left the country.
The Sun Media Group meanwhile announced Wednesday that it was temporarily shutting down for “rebranding.”
In August, Yameen dismissed speculation that Siyam was planning to join the opposition. “MDA is still with us in the coalition,” he assured supporters.
The MDA is the only party left of the broad coalition that backed Yameen in 2013. The Jumhooree Party and Adhaalath Party, whose leaders are among several high-profile figures jailed since Yameen took office, are part of the opposition coalition.
An MDA council member told Mihaaru in late August that the PPM has not honoured its commitment to reserve 20 percent of government posts for the coalition partner.
The party’s leadership and grassroots were also unhappy with some of the government’s actions and controversial changes brought to laws, the anonymous council member said.
As of July 31, the MDA had 10,648 members. The party has five lawmakers in the 85-member house, representing constituencies in Siyam’s native Noonu atoll and the south-central Dhaalu atoll.