The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has claimed it can offer the only “moderate” alternative to the country’s two largest political parties ahead of this year’s elections.
DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said that between the increasingly “polarised views” of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), his party represented an alternative viewpoint for voters and politicians alike.
The comments were made amidst ongoing speculation over whether presidential candidates representing the country’s government-aligned parties will opt to stand alone in September’s elections, or seek to form a “broad” coalition ahead of polling.
Following the conclusion of the DRP’s fourth national congress on April 25, Dr Mausoom claimed that after the 30 year rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the previous government of former President Mohamed Nasheed, there was a growing hunger among voters for “something else” in national politics.
He claimed that this growing desire for political alternatives in the Maldives had led to increased interest in supporting the DRP from across the country’s political spectrum.
Yet despite MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed opting to join the DRP from the MDP back in March, the party witnessed a high-profile defection of its own last month with the resignation of Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid. Shahid resigned from the DRP on April 15, shortly before announcing he would be joining the MDP.
Mausoom this week maintained that a growing number of MPs, voters and rival parties members had already expressed interest in joining the party in the build up to the election.
“We are getting pledges from many people that they will join us and we believe they are analysing the current situation,” he said. “Some [rival party] MPs have expressed support for the direction in which we are moving.”
Mausoom said he believed that a growing number of MPs were showing interest in the party – particularly from the PPM, which was formed by former President Gayoom.
Having formed the DRP back in 2005, former President Gayoom left the party with a number of his supporters back in 2011 to found the PPM. The split followed an acrimonious war of words between Gayoom and the DRP’s current leader, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.
However, on the back of divisions in the PPM following primary elections held back in March, Dr Mausoom said he believed there was disillusionment among the party’s members. the primary saw MP Abdulla Yameen – Gayoom’s half brother – appointed as its presidential candidate in a two-way contest with Umar Naseer.
Mausoom alleged that MPs and former DRP supporters who joined the PPM on the back of “accusations” started by former President Gayoom, were now rethinking their allegiances.
“They have seen this was just a game by Gayoom to maintain power within his family,” he said. “We will see more people who moved to the PPM [from the DRP] aware of this.”
Upon the conclusion of the DRP’s latest congress last month, Mausoom added that the party had filled several key posts within its council, as well as other senior roles such as appointing new deputy leaders including female MP Rozaina Adam.
Alongside implementing a new party structure, Mausoom said the other key purpose of what had been a “very productive” national congress was to draft a manifesto document outlining the party’s strategy for the upcoming presidential elections.
He added that discussions had already been held on a early draft of the party’s manifesto that had been well received by DRP members so far.
However, Mausoom said that no further details on the direction for the party would be shared at the present time.
“The plan now is to streamline the manifesto to the needs of islands communities. Once it is finalised, we will be sharing it with the media,” he said.
Having been drafted with input from members across the country, Dr Mausoom said that the manifesto would incorporate the interests of voters from islands in the outer atolls as well as those of municipal voters ahead of the election.
“We are now geared to move forward,” he said.
Among the DRP’s coalition partners currently serving within the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed, both the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) have agreed to formally stand in a coalition with the country’s current leader though his Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP).
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.
However, uncertainty remains whether other parties in the current coalition government would look to officially join with the president ahead of elections to stand against the MDP
Speaking to Minivan News this week, the government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) said it would not be looking to form a coalition with any party in the first round of voting.
JP Leader business tycoon and MP Gasim Ibrahim was last month reported in local media as telling supporters at a rally in Male’ that while he would consider forming a coalition with other political parties, but was not wiling to stand as the running mate of another candidate.
However, JP Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz claimed yesterday (May 1) that the party had decided to stand alone in the first round, adding that Gasim would take advice from the party council beyond that.
On the back of this commitment, Ramiz added that the party was this week working on finalising its own manifesto for the elections and would therefore be able give further details on its campaign strategy over the next week.
The PPM – the country’s second largest party in terms of parliamentary representation – has previously said it would not rule out forming a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed or any other fellow government-aligned parties ahead of the presidential elections.
PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News last month that the party had already engaged in talks over the possibility of forming a power sharing agreement with other parties in the government of President Waheed, although no final decision had yet been taken.
Nihan said that rival political parties needed to reassess their views on power sharing after thousands of people attended a gathering held by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on April 19 to announce the signing of Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid.
Meanwhile, MDP candidate former President Nasheed has meanwhile claimed his party had already ruled out joining a coalition during the elections, criticising the effectiveness of power sharing in Maldives politics.
Nasheed was brought to power during the second round of the country’s first multi-party democratic elections in 2008 through a coalition of numerous parties united against former President Gayoom. These coalition parties, many of whom now serve in the government of President Waheed, all later left Nasheed’s administration.