A date has been set to unveil President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s running mate for September’s presidential election, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom has said, with details to be “disclosed at a later stage.”
Following an inaugural rally of President Waheed’s coalition on Friday night (May 24), local media reported that DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was likely to become Dr Waheed’s running mate.
A senior member of the coalition told local news website CNM that Thasmeen’s appointment was “almost finalised” and other coalition parties had no objections.
Earlier this month, the government-aligned DRP announced it would be joining the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in a coalition backing President Waheed.
Both the DQP and GIP are small political parties currently facing potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.
Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) currently has 3,930 registered members while the DRP has 21,411 members, according to the Elections Commission (EC). The DRP is also the third largest party in parliament while the GIP has no representation in either the legislature or local councils.
Speaking at the inaugural rally on Friday night, DRP Leader Thasmeen praised President Waheed for taking office at a “very tense” time for the country – referring to the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
Thasmeen was quoted by local newspaper Haveeru as praising the president’s coalition, which he said had the professionals and academics capable of “saving the nation”.
Contacted for comment, DRP Parliamentary Group Leader Dr Mausoom requested Minivan News contact the coalition’s media team.
The media team in turn forwarded all media requests to spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza. Abbas, also spokesperson for President Waheed’s GIP, was not responding to call at time of press.
Meanwhile, Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights Azima Shukoor called for more parties to back President Waheed’s coalition to ensure former President Mohamed Nasheed did not return to office, according to local media reports.
Shukoor, former Attorney General under both Dr Waheed and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and a founding member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), was noticeably present at Friday night’s coalition rally, where she declared her support for President Waheed’s bid for the presidency.
Shukoor requested that other government-aligned parties who had not joined the coalition so so far opt to side with President Waheed in order to secure a first round win.
“Today, I think that the best thing to do would be to support the broad coalition and ensure its success in the election. We can’t let Nasheed become president. What we can do is be united, work together, and make sure that the broad coalition wins the election,” she was quoted as saying by Sun Online.
Shukoor was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
In his speech at the inaugural rally, President Dr Mohamed Waheed meanwhile contended that only the coalition could foster national unity and overcome divisions in society.
“Only this coalition can create fraternity and unity among the people. Only this coalition can create unity out of different opinions,” he was quoted as saying.
Referring to the murder of moderate religious scholar and MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, President Waheed vowed that “no stone will be left unturned” to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Dr Afrasheem’s murder was “an atrocity that only happens in extreme political societies like Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
“The man who slew him has confessed in front of judges. But the people who were said to have paid him to do it are still free. The fact that they are the cronies of the presidential candidate of the party that claims to be the largest in the country is something that all citizens should be concerned about,” he said.
The government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) meanwhile announced last week that no decision has been made on whether to join a coalition backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed in September’s election, as it prepares to officially choose it presidential candidate and leader.
Fellow government-aligned PPM – the country’s second largest party – back in March elected MP Abdulla Yameen to stand as its presidential candidate and has continued to reject calls to join a coalition against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ahead of elections.
PPM Leader Gayoom previously told local media that Dr Waheed’s coalition presented no threat to the election bid of its own candidate MP Yameen.
Former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who was sacked from the post after becoming Yameen’s running mate, strongly criticised President Waheed’s coalition at a campaign rally on the island of Villingili in Gaaf Alif atoll last night (May 25).
Coalition parties were more concerned about their share in the government – in terms of cabinet posts and positions in state-owned enterprises – than serving the public, Dr Jameel reportedly said.
Meanwhile, MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed contended during an interview with state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) on May 16 that President Waheed and the DRP had been forced to form a coalition out of necessity.
Nasheed questioned the coalition’s claims that it presented a “third way” for voters as opposed to the policies of the MDP and PPM and reiterated his belief that power-sharing coalitions were not compatible with a presidential system of government.
“I do not see a citizen who wants ‘another way.’ What is the path to deliver this way [to development]? We do not hear [political parties] talking about that,” he said. “We are presenting one path to that [development]. We believe MDP’s policies will bring prosperity to the people. I do not see this third way you referred to as ‘a way.’ I see it as two men with no other way. That is not a political philosophy,” he said at the time.