MPs Ilham Ahmed and Hussain Mohamed Latheef on Wednesday joined the Jumhooree Party amid a flurry of lawmakers switching parties after September’s presidential election.
The pair signed for the JP, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, during a ceremony at the party headquarters with leader Gasim Ibrahim.
Ilham, who was elected on a JP ticket to the Dhagethi seat, told the press that he left to join the former ruling party after consulting with Gasim, adding that he had tried to stop former president Abdulla Yameen’s efforts to “destroy” the JP leader’s Villa business empire.
Ilham was among a dozen Progressive Party of Maldives 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 seats over an anti-defection ruling by the Supreme Court.
Along with MP Abdulla Sinan, Ilham was arrested during February’s state of emergency upon his return to the Maldives after months in exile. They were charged with terrorism over an alleged plot to remove Yameen from office.
After nearly eight months in prison, the lawmakers were released in the wake of Yameen’s heavy defeat in the September 23 polls.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, MP Hussain Mohamed Latheef, who represents the Gaaf Dhaal Faresmaathoda constituency, said he decided to leave the PPM because the former ruling party’s direction and leadership were unclear.
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.
Along with three other lawmakers who joined the JP recently, the party now has 11 MPs.
The PPM still has more than 30 MPs but several have been voting with the ruling coalition since the change of government.
The Maldivian Democratic Party, the largest party in the ruling coalition, added to its number with the signing of former PPM MP Mohamed Abdulla ‘Muhamma’ on Tuesday after the loss of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the former parliamentary group leader, and four MPs who resigned to join his cabinet.