Two of the candidates contesting in the upcoming September 7 presidential elections held rallies on Saturday night, unveiling policies targeting women and youth.
President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ithihaadh Party (GIP), along with coalition members Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), revealed the first of their pledges and policies at an event held in Stelco on Saturday night, followed by a music show and dinner at Alimas Carnival.
The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) simultaneously held a rally on Sosun Magu, where its presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen revealed the party’s pledges focusing on women and youth.
“Creative minds of youth will not go to waste”: Waheed
At the GIP-DRP-AP event President Waheed unveiled the coalition’s youth manifesto, divided into four subcategories: “education and training, jobs and earning, sports and entertainment, and starting a new life”.
Waheed stated that if he is elected for a new term, he intended to double the number of students studying for A Levels and diplomas during his first year in office. He added that within three years of a new term, he intended to open up for all students the opportunity to either study to A-level standard or get vocational training.
Waheed spoke of unemployment rates in the country, stating that if he is elected, his government would provide training and loans for youth for small and mid-level business start-ups.
“It is the youth who possess the most creative minds. It is the duty of every government to ensure that these minds do not go to waste. We are aware of that,” Waheed stated, addressing group of around a hundred supporters and party members at the rally.
Speaking on the sector of the coaltion’s manifesto focusing on sports and entertainment, Waheed revealed plans to establish a sports academy to address the lack of facilities to promote sports in the capital city as well as the atolls.
Waheed also claimed existing sports associations would be given increased financial assistance, particularly watersports.
Concluding the presentation, Waheed spoke of the importance of youth having the means to live independently and in privacy, pledging to provide better housing options.
Following this event, leaders of all three coalition parties attended the music show and dinner at Alimas Carnival.
Minivan News observed close to 200 attendees at the dinner, including political leaders from DRP, GIP and the Adhaalath parties, in addition to other members of the current government. Attendees included the politicians’ security details and a large contingent of police, including 10 Special Operations officers. The dining setup for invitees was fenced off from the public area.
Live music was halted while dinner was served, and instead a video was played on a loop on two screens, produced by private media channel DhiTV. The video included excerpts of Waheed’s speeches in the past year, and images from protests showing confrontations between police and demonstrators.
The looped video showed Waheed speaking on a number of issues, including “Does any citizen want the Maldives to become the next Afghanistan?” and “It is always external influences that contribute to breaking up a country’s social fabric.”
PPM Youth City
Meanwhile, PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen announced during Saturday night’s rally that the party intended to transform Hulhumale’ into a “Youth City” where enough apartments to accommodate young people would be constructed.
Yameen said the pledge was meant to cater to the large number of young people who are unable to start a married life due to the lack of housing options.
Yameen also referred to former President and PPM Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s 2008 pledge to build a bridge connecting Hulhumale’ to Male’, stating that this dream would be made a reality if PPM wins the upcoming election.
Yameen further stated that in a PPM government, women’s rights would be a major priority.
He stated that women would be given the opportunity to stay at home and work via internet in the instances of “special conditions that are faced by women”. He further stated that the party would ensure a way through which wives can claim “ some percentage” from a husband’s business enterprise.
“Women are valuable people who produce and raise persons who are very important to the nation. They are often at the forefront of everything. We will change the work environment in such a way that suits women.”
With reference to the recent acts of supporters painting walls in party colours, Waheed stated that, “the painting of public spaces in party-specific colours is, according to what we know, an act so lowly it is beneath anything a human would do” and that he “sometimes [has] seen such acts being done by creatures on National Geographic channel”.
He said that “these colours are not ones that are painted in the minds or hearts of our youth”, saying that his party will not resort to painting walls in any public places.
“Consider it. Being in the post that I am in now, how would it look if I went and started painting seawalls in my party colour? If I were to paint the walls of the place allocated to the Supreme Court in my party colour? No, we who are leading must set an example for youth,” he stated.
Meanwhile, PPM running mate Mohamed Jameel Ahmed criticised the GIP-DRP-AP coalition’s youth policy launch, stating that Waheed, who is “throwing out important youth figures in the current government has no justification to speak of youth and their interests.”
Speaking at Saturday night’s rally, Jameel said it was youth figures who were most vocal in working to put right the wrongs of the previous government. He said that through these efforts, these youth guaranteed opportunities in today’s government, adding that due to this, Waheed was unjustified in removing them from their posts using their transfer to PPM as an excuse for dismissal.
“A leader who throws out capable youth when they say that with their political beliefs, their conscience does not permit them to work behind this man, has no justification to speak about youth again,” Jameel said.
PPM Presidential Candidate Abdulla Yameen described the policies of other candidates as focusing on “temporary needs”. He stated that PPM would focus on bigger issues, including establishing facilities to do kidney transplants in local hospitals.
“We know the hardships faced by citizens who require kidney transplants. What a blessing it will be if this can be done in this country itself, don’t you think? This is what we are talking of. Now, while this is on offer, will you instead choose eggs and bananas and laptops?” Yameen said, referring to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s health policy and Jumhoree Party (JP)’s educational policy.