Dr Waheed has announced his withdrawal from the October 19 election. He received 5.13 percent in the annulled September 7 poll.
Running mate in the first round, Leader of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. The DRP allied with the MDP following the first round.
Incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed contested the election as an independent candidate, following controversy over whether his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) had the minimum 10,000 members required under new political party regulation.
He received 5.13 percent of the vote in the annulled September 7 poll, hailed as free and fair by local and international election observers but subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court following a petition from third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim.
In a statement the President’s Office advised that Waheed “took this decision in the greater interest of the country at a time when the integrity of the independent Elections Commission and the election process are being challenged.”
“Although President Waheed scored the least number of votes in the first round, he continues to be highly respected for the calmness with which he has managed the country, and for maintaining peace and stability in the nation,” the statement read.
Dr Waheed was vice-president under the former administration of President Mohamed Nasheed. He came to power on 7 February 2012 following Nasheed’s controversial resignation during a police and military mutiny. Despite a heavy-handed police crackdown on protesting Nasheed supporters the following day, the new government was recognised by the international community and its legitimacy was further endorsed by a subsequent Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry.
Relations between Waheed’s GIP and the MDP government first soured in April 2010, after the then vice-president appeared on (then opposition-aligned) Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa TV station and denounced the MDP government for “being a one man show”.
“The people of the Maldives didn’t elect me to sleep for five years. I believe I am part of the leadership of this country and it is necessary for me to be involved,” said Waheed at the time, in defence of his public criticism.
A month later the MDP terminated its coalition agreement with GIP and evicted one of its two ministers, Economic Development Minister Mohamed Rasheed, from the cabinet. The other, Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy, also one of the founding members of GIP, shortly thereafter joined the MDP and is now the Nasheed’s running mate in the 2013 election.
Waheed was among the first in the government to denounce Nasheed’s detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, writing in a blog post titled ‘Freedom from fear: are we about to lose it?”: “I am ashamed and totally devastated by the fact that this is happening in a government in which I am the elected Vice President.”
On 30 January 2012, a week prior to the controversial transfer of power and his ascension to the presidency, Waheed met privately with key members of the opposition at his residence – including President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran, Vice President of former President Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer, and Vice President of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef.
Following the meeting, in the early hours of January 31 the three key opposition figures held a televised press conference at which they announced they had “decided to pledge allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.”
“We have asked the Vice President to save this nation,” declared Shareef. “I would like to call upon the security forces [to accept that] since the Vice President is a elected by Maldivians, and should the president be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President. [And so] we have decided that he has to start performing these duties.”
A week later mutinying police and military officers joined opposition demonstrators in an assault on the country’s main military headquarters, seized control of the state broadcaster, and issued Nasheed an ultimatum to resign.
“What happened was the culmination of a long process of political conflict and undermining of the judiciary,” President Waheed told foreign media during a press conference the morning after what the Maldivian Democratic Party had alleged was effectively a bloodless coup d’état.
Waheed presented himself as a force of stability heading a ‘unity’ government, declaring at his first public rally as President that “you are all mujaheddin” and vowing to protect Maldivian sovereignty from influence by foreign powers.
This notably included India, with Waheed’s spokesperson at the time, Abbas Adil Riza, sparking a diplomatic incident in November 2012 by describing the Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay as a “traitor and enemy of the Maldives and the Maldivian people”, accusing him of taking bribes and threatening the government.
The following month the government evicted, with a week’s notice, the country’s single largest foreign investor, Indian infrastructure giant GMR, which had been managing and upgrading Male’s main airport under a concession agreement signed with Nasheed’s government.
Waheed’s government declared the agreement ‘void ab initio’ (‘invalid from the outset’), to the surprise of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) which had overseen the original bidding process.
GMR’s ongoing compensation claim in Singaporean arbitration courts has now reached US$1.4 billion, eclipsing the annual state budget, at time when state reserves have dropped to US$344 million – approximately 2.7 months of imports.
Waheed also oversaw the promotion of more than a third of the police force and made lump sum payments of more than two years of allowances to military personnel. He awarded newly-built housing on Hulhumale to the “top 50” police, and pledged further flats for police and military officers.
Soon after coming to power he abolished the Presidential Commission, created by former President Nasheed to investigate corruption and human rights abuses under the 30 year rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and in July 2013 awarded Gayoom the country’s highest civilian honour, the ‘Nishaan Ghaazeege Izzaiytheri Veriyaa’ (NGIV).
Dr Waheed now leads the ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition, which also includes the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) and its leader, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – now Dr Waheed’s running mate in the presidential race.
The DRP was first formed by Gayoom to compete against Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in the 2008 election, and was the major opposition party throughout much of Nasheed’s presidency.
Thasmeen was anointed Gayoom’s successor following the former president’s short-lived retirement from politics, however the former’s willingness to negotiate with the MDP led to a 12-page letter of complaints from the former leader and an acrimonious split in 2011, followed by the departure of Gayoom loyalists to the newly-formed Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) .
Until July 2013, Dr Waheed’s coalition also included the Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). Both have since defected to Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Coalition, citing “family and foreign influences” in Dr Waheed’s decision-making.
GIP has outlined its policies on its website, divided into four key areas:
Promote the teaching of Islam in schools and in non formal programmes. The curriculum of Islamic teaching will be reviewed with the assistance of qualifies (sic) and competent teachers and religious scholars.
Promote literary discourses on spirituality, happiness and development. Facilitiate discussion and promote the enlightened religious outlooks and discourage culturally formed dogma which prevent the development of the human societies.
Encourage the application of science, both natural and social sciences in the understanding of religious thought and teachings, and make such knowledge accessible to the common person.
Women and Child Protection – Women and children’s abuse rates in the Maldives are among the worst in the world. We will work tirelessly and endlessly to ensure an open society in which these problems can be directly addressed. Those being abused will have refuges, protection, and that those who are predators are immediately removed from society.
Social Insurance – we will regulate and develop the existing insurance programs in the country so that they are sustainable in the long term. We will also ensure that privatisation practices that may endanger insurance programs, such as the national privatisation of pharmaceuticals and possible skyrocketing costs of medical services will be regulated to protect the people.
Social Assistance – We will lay the foundations to create a social safety net for those who fall from grace, finding themselves suddenly destitute. We will create welfare service programs for the most vulnerable groups with no other means of adequate support including single mothers, homeless and physically or mentally challenged peoples.
Identification of Vulnerable Groups – In order to help those in greatest need, we will create mechanism to identify the most vulnerable groups in our society. This will include the implementation of a system of income declaration as is found in all developed nations, thereby allowing a monitoring system for social protection.
Compulsory Education: All children will have compulsory and free education up to Grade 10. Preschool to Grade 10 will be considered a basic education in the Maldives. All children will have free preschool before they enter primary grades. The primary school curriculum will be improved to develop more creative learning opportunities and to teach basic literacy, numeracy and social and religious practice. Parents who do not send their children to school will be prosecuted and will have to pay fines. Children will be removed from parents who insist on depriving children of a basic education.
Special Needs: As part of the free and compulsory education policy, all children with handicaps will be given special assistance to complete their education. More teachers will be trained and provided to schools with special education skills and schools will be equipped with the learning aids necessary for children with handicaps.
Raising Standards: Quality standards will be set up to compare Maldives education to developed countries and targets will be set to achieve educational excellence over a 10 year. In order to do this an Educational Development Master Plan will be developed.
Higher education: All children who graduate from higher school will have an opportunity to proceed to higher education, vocational or technical education if they choose to do so. A system of higher education institutions will be set up on a three tier basis. Children who qualify for university education will proceed to university either in Maldives or abroad. The emphasis will be on helping students gain higher edication rathere (sic) than on the development of insitutions. At the second level a network of community colleges will be established for students who wish to qualify for jobs. Those who do not qualify to the first and second level of higher edication (sic) will have opportunity to attend vocational and trechncial (sic) schools to acquire specific skills.
A higher education master plan will allow for multiple providers both public and private. The state will introduce a higher education financing scheme where needy students will receive scholarships and student loans enough for them to complete their courses of study.
Protection of Maldives: Our fragile islands and ecosystems including mangroves, lagoons and spawning areas for endangered marine species will be protected. Natural reserves will be marked, regulated and used for eco tourism where possible.
Waste to wealth: There is no such thing as waste if we know how to use them. We believe that all materials currently disposed as waste could be used. Our policy is to promote waste processing and use to generate raw materials for small industries and fertilizers for agriculture. We will work with communities to introduce these concepts and to assist them develop solutions at local level to solve the problems associated with waste disposal.
Analysis of support base (ahead of September 7 poll)
The majority of President Waheed’s support will have been gathered during his tenure as President, making it difficult to gauge based on previous election results (in the 2009 parliamentary election GIP received just 518 votes, 0.31 percent of the total counted).
While he has had the high-profile advantage of an incumbent President during his campaigning, much of his support is likely to come from the remnants of the DRP. However this itself is unpredictable given the party’s tumultuous split in 2011, as much of the DRP’s original support was directed towards Gayoom, who is now aligned with the PPM.
The defection of the DQP and Adhaalath Party will mean Waheed will face a tough contest to secure second place in the first round in competition with the PPM and Jumhoree Coalition. However, depending on his performance in the first round he may be able to secure a presence in a future government by negotiating a coalition agreement in a second round with either of these likely second place candidates.
The DRP’s position however becomes more difficult should PPM achieve second place, as the party has expressly dismissed the prospect of entering into a coalition arrangement with former party members it labeled as “too hardline”.
“Our position is very clear, we will not be forming a coalition with the PPM. We won’t waste our time discussing a coalition with them,” said the party’s Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef in March 2013.
“There is no chance of a first round victory, so unless we have a strong coalition, those of us in the political middle ground would be forced to support the MDP,” he claimed.
Registered party members (figures as of March 2013)
GIP – 3,930 (reportedly over 10,000 according to GIP, but disputed by Elections Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission)
DRP – 21,411
Parliament seats (as of 18 August, 2013)
DRP – 10 (of 77)
GIP – 0 (of 77)
Candidate/party has not yet responded to submitted questions.