The religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) has announced five candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in constituencies reserved by the government coalition for the Jumhooree Party (JP).
Unveiling the candidates at a press conference today, AP Spokesperson Sheikh Ali Zahir revealed that discussions were ongoing with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on allocating “three or four constituencies” for AP candidates.
“Adhaalath Party worked from the start to try and field candidates together [with the ruling coalition] or without conflicts. At the final stage of these efforts, we are still really awaiting an answer from PPM,” he said.
While the parties were not engaged in “official” discussions, the AP has asked the ruling party to cede five constituencies for its candidates, Zahir added.
“They have promised to give us constituencies out of [the requested five seats]. PPM has even revealed that through the media. So we hope that it will be concluded as soon as possible because there is very little time left,” he said, referring to the February 11 deadline to submit candidacy papers to the Elections Commission.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on March 22.
“They said they might not be able to give all [five] constituencies. But they will determine from among [the five seats]. We have said we can work together if we get three or four seats,” he said.
The three parties in the governing ‘Progressive Coalition’ reached an agreement last week to allocate constituencies among the coalition partners, with 49 seats assigned for the PPM, 28 seats for the JP, and eight seats for the Maldives Development Alliance.
Following its exclusion from the coalition’s parliamentary election plans, the AP began discussions separately with the three parties on the possibility of allocating constituencies to its candidates.
However, negotiations with the JP ended unsuccessfully after it refused to cede the Vaikaradhoo and Makunudhoo constituencies as requested by the AP.
JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim told the press that the AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla had refused to accept an offer of four constituencies, including three of five constituencies requested by the party.
Following the breakdown in talks, the AP announced that it would be fielding candidates in the 28 constituencies reserved for JP candidates.
While 35 AP members have submitted forms to contest the parliamentary elections on the party’s ticket, Zahir said today that the party was considering reducing the number of its candidates.
The AP was willing to compromise with the coalition if the parties agreed to cede constituencies where Adhaalath’s support was strong, Zahir said.
“If we contest a lot of seats, it is likely that it will adversely affect the government coalition and they could lose a lot of seats. As this government was brought [to power] with our support as well, we do not want that to happen,” he said.
However, the AP began announcing its candidates today due to the lack of progress so far, he added.
“Even if we go together or through a coalition, the principle we believe is that we will contest in constituencies where we have supporters and a big chance of winning. Winning seats using the support of others is not a philosophy we believe in,” he said.
The five AP candidates announced today were Anara Naeem for the Makunudhoo constituency in Haa Dhaal atoll, Aishath Haleela for the Vaikaradhoo constituency, Ahmed Zahir for the Komandoo constituency, Asadhulla Shafie for the Kaashidhoo constituency, and Hisham Ahmed for the Meedhoo constituency in Addu City.
While candidates from JP will be contesting all five constituencies on behalf of the Progressive Coalition, Zahir said that the AP had complete confidence of securing the seats.
Stressing the competence and academic qualifications of the AP’s candidates, Zahir said the party’s aim was to address public dissatisfaction with the People’s Majlis and ensure that MPs have the respect of the public.
Zahir criticised other parties for “forcing” candidates of questionable character and “low behaviour” on the public.
The AP candidates were selected without a primary by the party’s consultation council, which Zahir said was in the process of selecting candidates for a number of other constituencies.
Zahir also announced that the AP would be contesting the Nolhivaram constituency with a candidate to be finalised at a later date.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed – vice president of the ‘Civil Alliance’ of local NGOs – signed for the AP today. Abdulla had previously expressed interest in contesting the Nolhivaram seat.