Even as 13 Members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) defected to join President Mohamed Muizzu’s People’s National Congress (PNC) once he took office, he still supports the anti-defection bill proposed by the MDP, the president has said.

Muizzu, in a televised interview on Friday, acknowledged that the best practice was to remain in the party that got the MPs elected.

“We have members who changed from the MDP. They changed for very legitimate reasons. Still, as a rule, the best way is to stay with the elected party,” he said.

The President said that parliament seats are won by ‘selling’ certain policies particular to a party.

“The ideal way is to stay in the party that got you elected. That’s the social contract with the people. So as a rule, I support the [anti-defection] bill,” he said.

On Tuesday, Parliament voted to accept the Anti-Defection Bill, which will see MPs lose their seats should they leave the party they were in when they were elected, and sent it to a seven-member select committee for review. The bill passed the committee stage the following day.

Under the proposed legislation, elected officials risk losing their seats under three circumstances: voluntary resignation from their party, registration with another party, or, for independents, affiliating with a political party post-election.

The bill also seeks to introduce a recall vote mechanism, empowering voters to decide the fate of representatives who switch affiliations or are expelled by their party. It also allows for by-elections to fill vacancies created by such defections, ensuring that representation remains uninterrupted.