Resort tycoon and Leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim has announced former Special Advisor to President Mohamed Waheed, Dr Hassan Saeed as his running mate for the upcoming presidential elections scheduled to take place in September.
The Chairman of Villa Group is among the five candidates who have formally declared their intention to contest in the presidential race. Other candidates include opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen, and current President Waheed – who heads the ‘forward with the nation’ coalition consisting of his party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP). Former PPM Council member Dr Ahmed Saud has also declared that he will be contesting the polls as an independent.
Shortly after President Waheed’s controversial ascension to power in February 2012, Saeed was appointed to the position of Special Advisor. The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) – of which Saeed is the leader – was announced as part of Waheed’s new national unity government. Last April, DQP announced its plan to join President Waheed’s coalition and support his bid to seek re-election.
However, Saeed last Thursday made a sudden announcement that he and his party had decided to leave Waheed’s coalition, claiming that President Waheed was strongly influenced by his family and relatives, was making decisions from his “palace” instead of discussing with other coalition partners.
In a statement released by the DQP at the time, the party said its council had unanimously agreed to leave the coalition after accusing Waheed of being incapable of protecting the interests of his coalition partners.
“The president dissolved the steering committee established with coalition partners to resolve issues within the coalition and resorted to taking decisions within his palace,” read the DQP statement. “Therefore, despite repeated efforts, President Waheed’s failure to resolve these issues” forced the party to leave the coalition, DQP claimed at the time.
The accusations were dismissed by the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition and claimed that DQP’s departure would have little effect on its campaign.
In a campaign rally held last Friday evening, Gasim Ibrahim declared that Saeed will be his running mate and that Jumhoree Party have come to a coalition agreement with Saeed’s DQP and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party. Gasim also said that the three parties will contest in the presidential elections as a coalition under his leadership.
The Adhaalath Party was also initially part of President Waheed’s coalition but later left, criticising the campaigning and claiming “unknown activities” were being carried out within the coalition.
The party’s decision to part ways with President Waheed came shortly after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP that it had “extremist” elements within the party ranks. Adhaalath responded strongly to the remarks dismissing that it held “extreme views” and claimed that the party did not promote extremism but had always stood by “Islamic principles”.
Addressing the small number of people gathered during the rally, Gasim Ibrahim spoke highly of both Saeed and the Adhaalath Party.
Gasim, who claimed he met Saeed while during the formulation of the current constitution, described him as an “educated, experienced and hard working person who would never be involved in any corrupt activity”.
He also praised the Adhaalath Party stating that the religious conservative party had proven its “sincerity and integrity” even in 2008 presidential elections by joining his party, and claimed that it was prepared to make “any necessary sacrifice” for the country.
“This is indeed a memorable night for all three parties. This coalition represents a group of individuals committed to uphold the national unity and Islam,” Gasim said.
He further said that the coalition, once elected, would steer the country towards a safe harbour and bring development and progress to the people.
Hassan Saeed addressed the crowd, praising Gasim’s efforts during the reform movement and claimed that the resort tycoon was behind a lot of reforms. Saeed described Gasim as an individual who would not waste time to make important decisions concerning the people and development.
“In our government, political-economic principles will be based on the principle which will make Maldivian multi-millionaires into billionaires, make millionaires into multi-millionaires, and make average businessmen into millionaires. It is the principle that will allow expansion of smaller businesses to medium and large ones,” he said.
Both Saeed and Gasim contested in 2008 presidential elections as separate candidates and came to third and fourth positions behind then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Nasheed. In the run-off elections, both Saeed and Gasim backed Nasheed and campaigned strongly against former President Gayoom.
Once elected, Saeed was appointed as the Special Advisor to Nasheed while Gasim was appointed as the Home Minister. However three months into the new government, both Saeed and Gasim left government and joined the then opposition. Both Saeed and Gasim later played a significant role in ousting Nasheed’s administration from power.