The outcome of any election is always uncertain.
According to reports, the winning party in the Maldives elections requires approximately 120,000 votes to secure the majority.
The MDP has the highest number of registered members; approximately between 45 – 50 thousand whereas the opposition – including the deceased members of Dr. Remote Controlled Waheed’s GIP and the Adhaalath with its recent drive to enlist 10,000 members – does not come close to the MDP’s party strength.
Despite the money (whether black or white is not known) Gasim and Yameen are prepared to spend to increase their voter base at the last minute, the ground reality is the combined forces of these two parties’ membership strength cannot compete with the MDP either.
The Adhaalath, at the moment part of the GIP coalition, is too factionalised and have lost the people’s support due to the fact that they have been promoting religion as a tool to woo the voters. Moreover there is no one in the party charismatic enough to swing the voters behind them despite their promotion of a religious agenda targeted at MDP’s Presidential candidate President Nasheed in order to denigrate him on religious grounds.
In fact the strategy has backfired on them. The people were too shrewd and saw threw their machinations. This can be gauged by the number of people attending Adhaalath’s rallies. According to certain reports, even the Majeediyya School band commands a larger following than the Adhaalath Party at present.
Blinded by power, the Sheikhs’ biggest blunder was the fact that they backed the wrong horse in the form of Dr Waheed and a few-die hard Gayoom loyalists in the military whose criteria for loyalty to Islam and the oath taken by them was dependent on the amount of money deposited in their bank accounts.
Dr Waheed, their professed spiritual leader, himself is under controversy over whether he knows how to recite Al-Fatiha, while his children are very much inclined to Hinduism and Christianity. As for Waheed’s religious leanings, while championing the Adhaalath’s hardline Islamic views, his personal beliefs are for anyone to guess.
This leaves the DRP led by Thasmeem – Waheed’s running mate – and the PPM led by former trade minister Yaameen alleged to have stolen millions of dollars of worth public funds – allegations believed by most Maldivians. Their combined strength of party members is again inadequate to challenge the MDP.
The MDP also controls the majority in parliament. The MDP’s biggest asset is the deposed President Nasheed, whose integrity has never been called into question. He has been personally denigrated by all sorts of dirty name calling, but even his most erstwhile enemy former President Gayoom is said to have acceded that Nasheed will not steal from the public coffer.
Whereas all other Presidential candidates, from Yameen to Gasim to President Waheed whom most believe is only warming the seat on behalf of Gayoom loyalists, are all tainted by the brush of corruption. Given half a chance, these people will swallow the entire economy of the Maldives as a whole leaving the middle and lower classes to live in abject poverty.
This has been evident during the past year when Gasim secured Maamigili airport for 99 years for tuppence through the back door, while Yameen’s backer Champa secured the Gan airport. The amount spent on the money for the coup, the alleged US$30,000, has already been recovered, albeit on a long term basis, by the backers of the coup.
The last year has also seen the economy take a nose dive, despite one of the biggest budgets in Maldivian history to be passed so far. Where the money has gone no one knows, but what is certain is the government is on the verge of bankruptcy. Even the police have run out of urine-cups.
When the coup government came in, according to Gasim Ibrahim it raised a billion dollars in selling treasury bills. The interest payable of these comes to US$100 million a year, leaving zero for development projects.
This leaves the silent majority on whom the election is truly dependent upon.
While the election campaign unfolds, certain facts are evident. Gasim, blinded by his hatred of Nasheed, is defaming him in public little realising it only calls attention to his personal shortcomings. Even his loyalist parliamentarians whose loyalty was secured by money no longer wish to associate with him.
Furthermore there are rumors circulating that President Waheed is going to file a case against Gasim for having been once lashed by the courts on grounds of fornication, which makes him ineligible for a Presidential candidate.
“Hate-mongering is counter productive,” says MP Abdul Raheem, former MP for Qasim.
Gasim and Yameen share a common trait: the belief that everyone has a price. When I first met Gasim after several long years, his first question to me was: “how much do you want?” I kept my face deadpan but inside I was seething with anger. Of course there are those who canbe bought but anything that can be bought has no real value. None of these people seem to have grasped this universal fact. Anything of value that can be acquired in this world is through love and struggle.
I’m quite sure the silent majority of the Maldives understands these basic truths. They may take Yaameen’s and Gasim’s money and contend with Waheed’s blackmail and threats of jail, but ultimately when it’s time for the vote to be cast, they will abide by their conscience and decide which is the only viable option for the Maldivians as a whole.
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