MP Hussain Shahudhy, one of ten ruling party lawmakers who signed a no-confidence motion against the speaker of parliament, has quit the Progressive Party of Maldives.
The MP for the Hanimaadhoo constituency in Haa Dhaal atoll asked MP Dr Abdulla Khaleel, the PPM’s secretary-general, to remove him from the party’s registry in a letter sent on Friday, which was also copied to the Elections Commission.
Shahudhy, who switched to the PPM from its former coalition partner Jumhooree Party in January 2016, said he did not wish to be active in any political party at present.
He becomes the second lawmaker to leave the PPM since the opposition alliance submitted the no-confidence motion against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed with 45 signatures from the 85-member house.
Of the ten PPM MPs who signed the motion, MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed left the party last Tuesday, MP Ilham Ahmed resigned as the deputy leader of the PPM parliamentary group, and MPs Saudhulla Hilmy, Abdulla Ahmed, and Abdulla Sinan declared their support for impeaching Maseeh.
MPs Mohamed Abdulla ‘Muhamma’, Ahmed Thoriq ‘Tom’ and Ali Shah have yet to comment publicly.
But on Wednesday, MP Mohamed Abdulla met with exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed in Sri Lanka. His “courage and resolve” became clear during the meeting, the opposition leader tweeted. MP Thoriq had called for the resignation of the fisheries minister before the no-confidence motion was submitted.
Shortly after the motion was submitted on Monday, MP Ahmed Rasheed alleged that his signature was forged. But opposition lawmakers insist that the MP for Isdhoo signed willingly in front of witnesses.
Despite Rasheed’s retraction, the no-confidence vote has been scheduled for July 24.
According to local media, President Abdulla Yameen and the PPM’s leadership have been trying to convince the defecting lawmakers to return to the fold. A team of senior PPM MPs reportedly travelled last week to meet with lawmakers in Sri Lanka.
All of the defectors were among 48 MPs who voted against a no-confidence motion against Maseeh in late March, which was defeated in a controversial roll call vote after 13 opposition MPs were forcibly expelled from the chamber.
The March 27 vote was the first battle of a political showdown between Yameen and the new opposition coalition bolstered by the weight of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has signed a pact with opposition leaders.
The opposition was counting on defections from the divided ruling party, which was split into rival factions last year after Gayoom lost an acrimonious leadership dispute with his half-brother Yameen.
In the wake of the failed bid to remove Maseeh, the parliament’s rules were also changed to require a minimum of 42 signatures to submit a no-confidence motion against the speaker or the deputy speaker.
The constitution requires a 14-day notice before the no-confidence vote. According to the parliament’s standing orders, the speaker and MPs must be informed of the motion within three working days of submission, after which Maseeh must be given 10 working days to prepare his defence.
The motion must then be tabled in the agenda of the next sitting. Maseeh will have the right to take part and defend himself in the debate.
With 83 MPs present and voting, 42 votes will be needed to pass the motion as Maseeh cannot participate in the vote. Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik will preside over the sitting.