Ibrahim Aboobakuru, a member of the Malé City Council, has defected from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to join the People’s National Front (PNF), a party led by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Aboobakuru, who represents the West Maafannu constituency, cited the new government’s failure to fulfil its pledge to free Yameen and its undue influence on the city council as the primary reasons for his defection. The PPM, in coalition with the People’s National Congress (PNC), had ascended to power with a promise to free Yameen, a pledge that remains unfulfilled, according to his supporters.

“The council’s work is now dictated by those in government, not the council’,” Aboobakuru stated in an interview with Channel 13.

Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, a close aide of Yameen and co-leader of the efforts to establish the PNF, echoed Aboobakuru’s sentiments. He noted that most council members were elected with the support of voters who backed Yameen. “The government’s actions against him will not be forgotten by Yameen’s supporters,” Jamal added.

Jamal urged voters in the upcoming city council by-elections to vote for candidates endorsed by Yameen. “PNF has a promising future. Please don’t give them [the government] any opportunity to inflict further harm,” he said.

Aboobakuru’s defection follows a similar move by Aishath Nazima, the council member for South Mahchangoalhi, who also left PPM for Yameen’s PNF.

The by-elections, scheduled for 13 January, will elect a new mayor and three council members. The mayoral seat became vacant following the resignation of former Mayor and current Mohamed Muizzu to assume office in November 2023. Yameen, who had supported Muizzu, left the PPM just a week after Muizzu’s inauguration in November 2023.

Following his departure, Yameen began work on forming the PNF. The Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM) granted permission to establish PNF on 29 November.