2 April 2017, Male: Ruling party lawmaker, Saud Hussain MP, has pledged his support to President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and to the wider reform movement, in a further sign of President Abdulla Yameen’s collapsing support in parliament.
Saud is the second parliamentarian this week to openly switch support from President Yameen’s faction to President Maumoon. Earlier this week, PPM MP Mohamed Ameeth also left the Yameen faction in favour of the opposition.
The parliamentarians’ move comes amidst a new crackdown by President Yameen on political leaders, including former President Gayoom. President Yameen launched his latest crackdown after he narrowly survived a proceduraly contentious no-confidence motion against the Speaker of Parliament, a regime crony, on 27 March.
Yameen was only able to win the vote by tampering with the electronic voting system, and using the military to forcibly remove opposition members from the parliamentary chamber. The vote was taken in clear contravention of parliamentary rules. Nevertheless, the President’s parliamentary support collapsed to 48 MPs, from over 60 in the 85-strong chamber earlier this year.
Several MPs and political figures critical of the government have been arbitrarily summoned to the police in the run up to the vote and subsequently. The timing of the summons and the alleged charges against the lawmakers have been extensively questioned domestically as well as by international observers.
Despite the increasing intimidation by the regime, all the leaders of the opposition movement — which includes President Maumoon’s faction of the ruling PPM, the Maldivian Democratic Party, Jumhoory Party and Adhaalath Party — have reiterated their commitment to work together to restore democracy, ensure free, fair and inclusive elections, and to protect fundamental freedoms.
Welcoming MP Saud to the opposition camp, opposition leaders also called on other government-aligned MPs to side with the Maldivian people and to cease rubber-stamping President Yameen’s repressive measures.
The opposition leaders also reiterated their call on all state institutions, including the police and the courts, to uphold the Constitution and protect the fundamental rights of citizens rather than buttress the now politically isolated President Yameen’s increasingly authoritarian rule.