The Jumhoree Alliance’s vice-presidential candidate Dr Hassan Saeed has declared the coalition intends a first round victory in September.
The new coalition consists of resort tycoon, media owner and presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP), the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) led by Saeed, and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).
Prior to the formation of the alliance, both the DQP and AP were part of incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s ‘Forward with Nation’ coalition.
However, both the DQP and AP left the coalition and joined the Jumhoree Alliance after claiming that family members and foreigners within President Waheed’s campaign team had been making all the decisions.
Shortly after the formation of the alliance Saeed was appointed as Gasim’s running mate.
Along with Waheed and Gasim, former President Mohamed Nasheed and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s Presidential Candidate Abdulla Yameen are also contesting in the upcoming elections.
Speaking during a press conference held on Saturday, Saeed blasted rival candidates for disparaging remarks about Gasim’s wealth, claiming that “it seems getting rich is a crime”.
Instead, Saeed claimed that Maldivians should be proud of Gasim’s “journey to his wealth”.
“But the truth is that [Gasim] arrived to Male’ as an orphaned boy. Gasim is someone who began work with nothing in his hands, but through his hard work he is now the richest man in the country. This is something we should be proud of,” Saeed claimed.
Saeed also contested that, should any of the presidential candidates other than Gasim become president, the Maldives would never see a second tycoon such as Gasim.
However, Saeed claimed that should the Jumhoree Alliance win the race, a future government led by the coalition will give the opportunity for poor people to “become a Gasim”.
“[Wealth] is not something we should be ashamed of. In fact we should be proud [of such an opportunity to become a Gasim]. Our focus is to create multiple ‘Gasims’,” Saeed said.
He added that Gasim is facing criticism from other political parties because he had decided to run for president, and claimed that Gasim was as rich as he was now as when former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom appointed him governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and later as Finance Minister.
“Some presidential candidates begged Gasim Ibrahim to join them. Some wanted him as their running mate. Others wanted him a different way. Today, because he decided not to go behind anybody else, and when it is becoming clear that he will win the elections, suddenly being rich has become a crime,” Saeed said.
“In my view, I think we all should be proud of a poor boy who became the richest man without any fraud or robbing a bank. Shouldn’t we be proud of it?”