Former Vice President of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has announced he will be backing resort tycoon and presidential candidate of Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim in the upcoming presidential election scheduled for September 7.
Umar Naseer joins the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party in coalition with the JP, dubbed the ‘Jumhoree Alliance’.
Leader of the DQP Dr Hassan Saeed was subsequently appointed as the running mate of the coalition’s presidential candidate, JP leader Gasim Ibrahim.
Naseer competed and lost against PPM’s Presidential Candidate Yameen Abdul Gayoom in the party’s presidential primary, alleging the election was rigged in favour of Yameen. He told local media on Monday that Gasim was the only candidate among the four presidential candidates whose “sincerity and integrity has not been questioned by the public”.
“I looked for a candidate who can protect our religion, who can defend our national identity, who can tackle growing corruption in the country and who will not defy the people and embezzle state funds. My team of supporters believe in sincerity. We have till to this day spoken of a white rope,” said Umar Naseer.
Naseer also criticised his former party, claiming that the PPM was not running according to the beliefs of the Maldives’ former autocratic ruler of 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He further said that although his team supported the beliefs and values of Gayoom, “Yameen is not Gayoom” but rather “a disgrace” to the former President.
“Therefore we simply cannot support Yameen even though he is still PPM’s presidential candidate,” Naseer claimed.
While campaigning for the PPM’s presidential ticket, Naseer alleged Yameen was involved in drug trafficking and commissioning gangs to cut down political opponents. Yameen dismissed the allegations.
Naseer lost out to Yameen in the PPM primaries gaining just 7,450 votes – 5,646 fewer than his rival. Then party’s Parliamentary Group Leader Yameen won 13,096 votes – 63 percent of the total vote.
Following the defeat, Naseer claimed he had to battle the “entire machine” of the party during the primary, claiming that his opponent had every advantage in the race.
“Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s children were with Yameen, the largest gangsters in the country were with Yameen, all the drug cartels in the country were with Yameen, the most corrupted people were with Yameen, the whole elections committee was with Yameen and a large chunk of PPM’s parliament members gathered around Yameen,” he told the press at the time.
Shortly after the end of the polls, Naseer was dismissed from the PPM over the allegations made against his opponent during the primaries.
A case against Naseer was heard by the PPM’s internal disciplinary council over the nature of possible action taken against him after he refused to apologise to Yameen or defend himself at the subsequent disciplinary hearing.
Naseer contested in the 2008 presidential elections on behalf of Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) – a facing extinction due to a shortage of members as required by the newly passed Political Parties Act.
Naseer faced a humiliating defeat in the polls, finishing the race in second last position with 2,472 votes – just 1.39 percent of the total votes. Since then, he has been very close to Maumoon Abdul Gayoom despite heavily criticising him during the 2008 campaign.