The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said today it would not rule out forming a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed or any other fellow government-aligned parties ahead of elections scheduled for September.
PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News the party was already engaged in talks over the possibility of forming a power sharing agreement with other parties in the government of President Waheed.
Nihan said that after thousands of people attended a gathering held by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) last Friday (April 19) to announce the signing of Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid, all political parties needed to reassess their views on power sharing.
Nihan’s comments were echoed this week by Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who claimed that a changed political landscape since the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008, necessitated a willingness to share power more than ever.
“We have to recognise that the PPM and the MDP are the two major political forces in the country capable of winning elections. Hence, if the governing coalition desires to forge an alliance, it cannot realistically exclude the PPM from any such move. Whether a coalition, inclusive of the PPM can be realised prior to the elections is possible or not, we cannot alienate major political parties in an election,” he told Minivan News this week.
“Therefore, the role of smaller parties attempting to win an election of this scale without the inclusion of major political parties is in my opinion, a risky business,” Dr Jameel added.
While declining to give exact details on the nature of power sharing discussions currently held by the PPM, MP Nihan claimed the party’s supporters were divided on the need to form a coalition after considering the size of the crowd that attended Speaker Shahid’s inaugural address as an MDP member last week.
“We are not in a position to give the media more details on coalition talks as of today. However, the PPM has engaged in talks with various parties,” he claimed.
“Many of our supporters are divided over whether we need a coalition with the Jumhoree Party (JP) and other government parties. After the MDP rally [on Friday] there has been lots of speculation [about coalition forming]. Let’s not rule anything out.”
Nihan stressed that the PPM’s preferred option would be to stand individually in the first round of elections to try and secure an outright elections victory.
However, he claimed that the PPM’s founder, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, had already explained within local media that the party remained open to the idea of forming coalitions with any party except the MDP.
Addressing speculation over the formation of a “broad coalition”, the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) today said it had also been approached by representatives from President Waheed’s party over potentially standing in the election through a pwoer sharing agreement.
DRP Deputy Leader Mohamed Shareef said he did not wish to provide further details on discussions at present or confirm if any decision had been taken on entering a power sharing agreement.
However, discussing the DRP’s experiences as being part of the unity government of President Waheed, Shareef added that power sharing in the country was not without challenges.
“There are some who believe that the elections will be easier in a coalition. While they may be right, there have always been lots of differences of opinion in the current unity government,” he said.
Shareef added that in forming the current government – sworn in after former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military – there had not been any “formal discussions” on individual roles that would be taken by coalition members.
Shareef claimed that securing any future agreement between different political parties and their respective presidential candidates on who should lead any coalition would prove more difficult.
Shareef therefore said he believed that the PPM was one party that would only be interested in a coalition that stood behind its own presidential candidate, MP Abdulla Yameen.
“The PPM will not be interested unless people would back their candidate. They are presently the largest party [in the current government] and will believe everyone must follow them,” he said. “However, in a coalition everyone must be equal.”
Shareef claimed that a failure to listen to the opinions of coalition partners had led to the previous government, formed behind Mohamed Nasheed’s MDP, eventually alienating all other parties, before the administration was toppled last February.
Just last month, the DRP said it would reject any possibility of forming a coalition with the PPM beyond the present government, calling any discussion on the matter a “waste of time” considering previous disagreements between the two parties.
The PPM was formed by DRP founder, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2011 following an acrimonious war of words with the party’s current leader, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. Thasmeen was directly appointed by Gayoom to be his successor as head of the DRP.
However, Shareef today refused to comment on speculation over any possible coalition agreement with the party.
At present, President Waheed’s GIP has formally agreed to stand in a coalition during the elections with the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).
Both parties, which have no elected representatives in parliament , currently face potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.
The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also publicly pledged its support to President Waheed, last month announcing plans to form a coalition with the GIP.
Meanwhile, after the JP rejected speculation it would form a coalition with President Waheed last week, Party Leader and presidential candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim was later quoted in local media on Thursday (April 18) as saying he would consider power sharing. However, Gasim stated at the time that that he would not stand as a running mate in such a coalition.
Senior figures of the opposition MDP including former President Mohamed Nasheed claimed earlier this month that sharing cabinet positions among different political parties would not result in an efficient government in the Maldives.
Former President Nasheed stated at the time that leaders of different political parties had learned “bitter lessons” surrounding their inability to run a government by sharing cabinet positions among different political parties over the last four years.
“A cabinet in which one minister belongs to this party and another belongs to that party, cannot run a government,” he said.
Aerial view of an MDP rally held on Friday April 20 to welcome the signing of Speaker Abdulla Shahid: