The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has reaffirmed its belief in retaining a majority in parliament, despite the recent defection of a dozen members— the second such defection within a year.

This latest political upheaval witnessed 13 MPs from the MDP aligning with the government’s People’s National Congress (PNC), following a similar incident six months prior, where 13 MPs left to establish a new party, The Democrats.

During a press conference on Saturday, MDP MP Ali Niyaz asserted that with 43 members still representing the MDP, the party holds its majority status. He assured that the party leadership is actively working to maintain unity among the remaining members.

The defection came amid rumours of a potential impeachment of President Dr Mohamed Muizzu. The Parliament recently endorsed a series of MDP-proposed amendments to the parliamentary rules of procedure, which theoretically simplified the impeachment process of the nation’s President and Vice President.

However, during the press conference, the party dismissed allegations of any impeachment plans against President Muizzu. Deputy Speaker and Hoarafushi MP Ahmed Saleem clarified that the MDP has not contemplated such an action. He suggested that such rumours might be fuelled by the government’s apprehensions about dwindling public trust.

Fayyaz Ismail, chairman of the MDP, commented on the recent defections, expressing gratitude to the departing MPs and reaffirming the party’s dedication to preventing a return to autocratic rule in the Maldives.

These defections have been marred by allegations of bribery and intimidation. Galolhu South MP Meekail Ahmed Naseem accused President Muizzu of manipulating parliamentary loyalty, an allegation firmly denied by the President’s Office through Chief Spokesperson Mohamed Shahyb.

The defections have also drawn public criticism, with accusations that some MPs switched allegiances to secure their positions without facing democratic competition. The MDP has mandated that all incumbent MPs contest in party primaries to secure their candidacy for the 2024 Parliamentary elections.