The brother-in-law of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Ilyas Ibrahim, has declared his intention to back Jumhoree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim in the upcoming elections.
“Ilyas Ibrahim is one of the senior most politicians in the Maldives. He is saying that he will support Gasim Ibrahim and Hassan Saeed this time. We will even hold a ceremony in connection to this very soon,” a JP spokesperson told local newspaper Haveeru.
Ilyas, who held multiple ministerial portfolios under Gayoom’s government, quit Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) in July, after publicly accusing the party of disrupting President Mohamed Waheed’s coalition.
At the time Ilyas backed Umar Naseer, the former Deputy Leader of the PPM who was expelled after accusing its presidential candidate and half-brother of Gayoom, Abulla Yameen, of rigging the party’s primaries.
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, before declaring his support for Gasim’s campaign.
The resort tycoon’s ‘Jumhoree coalition’ also includes the religious Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), who last month defected from President Mohamd Waheed’s own coalition.
Gasim has meanwhile positioned the coalition as defenders of Islam and nationalism. Speaking at a recent rally the resort tycoon took credit for the article in the new constitution tying Maldivian citizenship to being Sunni Muslim.
“I made the proposition to include the article demanding that every Maldivian citizen must be a Muslim. I did this by invoking the powers vested to the Speaker of the Constitutional Assembly under the previous constitution,” Gasim said.
Meanwhile as head of the Villa resort chain Gasim remains one of the country’s single largest importers of alcohol, with customs records for 2011 revealing that his hotels – including the Royal, Paradise, Sun, and Holiday Island resorts – imported approximately 121,234.51 litres of beer, 2048 litres of whiskey, 3684 litres of vodka and 219.96 kilograms of pork sausages annually, among other haram (prohibited) commodities restricted to ‘uninhabited’ islands.