A democratic government elected by the people is necessary for development of the country, former President Mohamed Nasheed said at a rally in Haa Dhaal Kulhudhufushi on Saturday (November 2) to launch the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) “Votun Ufaaverikan” (Contentment through the Vote) campaign.
The MDP presidential candidate said the party believes democratic principles were best demonstrated by the practice of reaching consensus through consultation advised in the Quran and Sunnah (teachings and practices of Prophet Mohamed).
“It will be hard to bring about the change we want, the development we want, without following these principles,” he said.
The most important lesson Maldivians have learnt in the recent past is that a democratic system of governance must be strengthened to achieve development, Nasheed said, adding that a “muddled” government could not ensure progress.
While the MDP government planned a number of development projects for Kulhudhufushi, he added, it came to a halt under the present “unelected government.”
An election was needed to resume the projects, he said, which includes the construction of a 22-kilometre road, a ferry terminal, a city hotel and a duty-free complex in addition to building housing units, securing opportunities for higher education, widening the ‘Hunaru’ skills training programme, and connecting the island to India via a ferry network.
Before the MDP government was “toppled” in February 2012, Nasheed said regional governments had committed to an Indian ocean passenger and cargo ferry service at the November 2011 SAARC summit in Addu City.
The MDP’s presidential election campaign was relaunched with the new slogan yesterday at 4:30pm with simultaneous events in 23 locations, covering all the atolls of the country.
Gatherings also took place in Malaysia and India, with Speaker Abdulla Shahid attending the function in Trivandrum.
In his speech at the main event, Nasheed said the purpose of an election was to offer a choice for citizens to pick the best policies and pledges.
In a democracy, he added, the role of opposition parties should be holding the government accountable and ensuring that campaign pledges were fulfilled.
However, instead of campaigning and presenting policies, Nasheed said rival parties were “using religion as a political weapon” to level false accusations against the MDP.
The “bitter consequence” of persistently claiming that the MDP was “irreligious or secular” was the creation of doubt in younger generations regarding religion, Nasheed contended.
Arguing that the country’s religious unity could be threatened by “backbiting” and divisive rhetoric, Nasheed appealed to religious scholars to refrain “for the sake of religion and the nation” from religion-based attacks.
As the Islamic faith of Maldivians was not lost or weakened under Portuguese rule, Nasheed said there was no possibility of any efforts to weaken the people’s faith ever succeeding.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Lhaviyani Naifaru on Thursday night, Nasheed accused former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of obstructing the presidential election to prevent consolidation of democracy in the Maldives.
The MDP’s political opponents were against establishing a democratic system of governance in the country, he contended.
“President Maumoon is someone who has never won in a vote. [Maumoon] winning 90 percent of the vote in these islands was a miracle, it wasn’t an election,” he said.
Elections were the means for ensuring development, Nasheed said, adding that the experience of the past two years have shown that only the MDP could govern in a democratic system.
Addressing supporters in Shaviyani Milandhoo the following night (November 1), Nasheed said MDP’s opponents were trying to maintain a “dictatorial regime” after preventing a presidential election from taking place.
“They do not want development. In truth, they despise the situation of the Maldivian people improving. They believe that development is an obstacle to their own businesses. They believe others entering the resort business is an obstacle to their businesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday night (November 2) in Haa Alif Kelaa, vice presidential candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, reportedly said that Nasheed must be held accountable for the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
“I will only believe that the rule of law is enforced in the Maldives when the court sentences Nasheed for detaining Judge Abdulla. No one should doubt that this will happen. Nasheed must also be penalised for fraudulently selling the airport to GMR, the serious acts of corruption he committed, and the MVR 5 billion he stole while he was president,” he was quoted as saying by Sun Online.
Jameel also accused the MDP of torching government buildings on February 8, 2012, which he labeled “acts of terrorism,” and claimed that the party was also behind the brutal murder of MP Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.
The MDP could not return to power for these reasons, Jameel said, calling on other parties to unite and prevent Nasheed from winning the election.