Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla ‘Muhamma’ has signed for the Maldivian Democratic Party, the largest party in the new ruling coalition.
The former actor-comedian handed his membership form over to former president Mohamed Nasheed and MDP chairman Hassan Latheef on Tuesday night.
Muhamma told the press he would contest in an MDP primary to seek the party’s ticket for the March 2019 parliamentary elections.
The MP for the Ihavandhoo constituency in the northernmost Haa Alif atoll was elected on a Jumhooree Party ticket as part of the former ruling coalition. Citing a pledge to work with the government to deliver infrastructure projects, he signed for the Progressive Party of Maldives shortly after the 2014 elections, helping the former ruling party secure a 43-seat majority.
Muhamma was among a dozen PPM MPs who left the party in July last year after backing the opposition’s bid to impeach the former speaker. After more than a year out of parliament, he was reinstated last month along with other lawmakers who were deemed to have lost their seat over an anti-defection ruling by the Supreme Court.
Muhamma’s signing adds to the MDP’s numbers after the loss of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the former parliamentary group leader, and four MPs who resigned to join his cabinet.
The PPM retains more than 30 MPs but their allegiances remain uncertain as several have voted with the ruling coalition since former President Abdulla Yameen’s heavy defeat in September’s polls.
The realignment of MPs comes after the repeal of the anti-defection law earlier this month. The defunct law triggered the automatic removal of MPs who get expelled or resign from their party.
The Jumhooree Party, the second largest party in the MDP-led coalition, also bolstered its ranks with the signing of PPM MPs Ahmed Mubeen and Ahmed Rasheed Ibrahim last week.
The JP now has nine MPs.
Mubeen, MP for the Bileydhoo constituency in Faafu atoll, was among several JP MPs who switched to the ruling party after the breakup of the Progressive Coalition that brought former president Yameen to power.
Ahmed Rasheed Ibrahim, who represents the Isdhoo constituency in Laamu atoll, was among the PPM MPs who signed a no-confidence motion against the speaker last year. After first claiming his signature was forged, he admitted to signing at the behest of a parental figure before later changing his mind.
In March, Rasheed testified anonymously in MP Faris Maumoon’s bribery trial. Contrary to a statement he gave police, the witness told the court he was not offered a bribe to back the speaker’s impeachment.