Top lawmaker pleads opposition 'defectors' to return

Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim on Sunday urged former opposition lawmakers to reverse their defections to the government for the benefit of the country.

The business tycoon after months away from the limelight took to the podium on Sunday during the JP ceremony to announce its candidates for the upcoming local council elections, reminded the many JP and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) lawmakers who had switched to the ruling party of their oath to serve the people.

Gasim said the betrayal of their oath had plunged the country into political instability and undermined the rights of the people.

JP had lost as many as eight lawmakers to the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) after getting elected on the JP ticket. Gasim's party had also aided an independent lawmaker to secure a parliamentary seat who had later signed for PPM.

"We can achieve peace and stability in the country if the nine of you come and join us today. Also we can restore rule of law if the four or five MDP members rejoin MDP. I urge you to look at the injustice and how people have lost faith in state institutions. If you think your decision was wrong, then urge you to correct it," Gasim said.

He also urged lawmakers to set aside personal gain for the good of the country and its people.

Gasim who narrowly missed out on a place in the presidential runoff in 2013, had ultimately been key to president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's winning the election. JP had initially been part of the coalition government, before falling out with president Yameen after he refused to give the parliament speaker's post to Gasim.