The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has voiced concerns that, despite it’s assistance in the presidential elections of 2013, the government coalition is failing to include the party in its allocation of constituencies for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
A senior council member of Adhaalath Party (AP) – who wished to remain unnamed – told Minivan News that the party has been excluded from seat allocation discussions currently being held between the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and its coalition partners the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).
A representative of the PPM has explained that discussions are first being held with those parties engaged in official agreements with President Yameen’s party before considering electoral arrangements with the religious party.
He alleged that the parties have been in discussions for the past two days while Adhaalath, despite having candidates interested in contesting for 32 constituencies, awaits a response from the group.
“Although there are candidates interested in running for 32 areas, we will understand if the coalition is able to give us somewhat fewer slots. While we are willing to come to an agreement with the coalition on the number of areas to run in, the coalition has so far not given us any opportunity to engage in such a discussion,” he stated.
According to the council member, should the coalition fail to leave sufficient time for campaigning before reaching a decision, the AP will contest separately in the polls.
He further opined that the AP “might be the single party that is bringing out the most number of extremely qualified candidates, with almost all of them having educational qualifications of Masters or Doctorate level”.
AP Spokesperson Ali Zahir confirmed to Minivan News that the party has so far not had any official communication from the coalition regarding the matter.
“We have not yet come to an absolute decision that the coalition is completely cutting us out. We are still awaiting a response from them, which I think will happen after they allocate seats to the parties with whom they already have written agreements. If, however, the coalition does not wish to cooperate with us, we will contest – even if separately,” Zahir explained.
Will consider including AP: PPM
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan stated that he had learned of the AP’s interest in running in the parliamentary elections approximately a week ago, and that he had conveyed the message to decision makers within the party.
“The thing is, the PPM has official coalition agreements with the JP and MDA. The AP did not join us on an agreement basis. So we can only consider options of sharing seats with AP after we manage to come to an agreement with JP and MDA,” Nihan said.
“The AP usually just communicates with the ruling party through Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, who acts as a middleman. This should not remain so, there must be official communication between the two parties. I will need to check if they have even submitted an official letter asking for coalition cooperation in the parliamentary elections,” he continued.
“After the November 10 elections, the AP came to meet with our then presidential candidate, incumbent President Abdulla Yameen. They said then that they wished to back Yameen and that they would do so without setting any conditions for the agreement. This is why they are excluded from the agreements on the upcoming election,” Nihan said.
“So the thing is, we will first agree upon which seats will be divided between PPM, JP and MDA. As you know, the coalition agreement with JP agrees to give them 33% of the constituencies,” Nihan continued.
“As for the MDA, we have a far too close relationship with them. To use a metaphor, they are a party that married us without dowry. Due to the close nature of the relationship between MDA leader Siyam and Yameen, there are no written agreements between us. But they will be allocated seats as the two parties have never had any friction,” Nihan said.
AP Spokesperson Zahir said that he had no comments to make on the MDA getting seats despite not having a written agreement like the AP, saying “in any case, AP will never be treated like the MDA is treated. We will reveal our thoughts on the matter when the time comes”.
Nihan stated that he hoped the coalition would meet with the AP and come to an agreement, so as not to disadvantage the coalition.
President Yameen has previously called on the AP to contest alongside the coalition, as running separately may lead to vote splitting – benefiting the political opposition.
Earlier in January, the PPM had claimed discussions had been initiated with the AP regarding parliamentary elections, though the AP claims that no official talks have been held to date.