The ideology of the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and religious conservative Adhaalath party “is very close,” former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said at a rally Thursday night.
“Adhaalath party’s ideology and DRP’s ideology is very close,” he said. “That is because Adhaalath party’s main priority is securing Islam in the country, promoting Islam, reviving the spirit of Islam in the Maldives and ensuring that the country remains a 100 percent Muslim nation.”
Addressing supporters at the rally held to launch the Z-faction’s celebratory activities to mark the party’s sixth anniversary, Gayoom congratulated the party’s newly-elected leadership with Sheikh Imran Abdulla as President and Sheikh Mauroof Hussein as Vice-President, which had “embarked on a hopeful new stage.”
Gayoom added that DRP members “always wished Adhaalath party well.”
The Adhaalath party is currently part of the government under a coalition agreement with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which gives the Islamic Ministry and its functions to the religious conservative party.
In the buildup to the 2008 presidential election, the party supported Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s candidacy and clashed with the DRP and then-President Gayoom over a number of religious issues, including the veiling of women and Gayoom’s treatment of local scholars.
Meanwhile at the recently concluded Adhaalath party four-day national congress, former State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed told members that remaining in a coalition with the ruling party would be “a betrayal of the nation” if the government did not take “reform measures” suggested by Adhaalath.
He added that as the MDP had not honoured the coalition agreement to date, Adhaalath party “would have no choice but to reconsider” the alliance if the situation was not remedied through dialogue and discussion “within a sufficient period of time.”
In the meantime, Adhaalath party should study the “discord and divisions” in the country’s religious and political spheres as well as problems in the health and education sectors, suggested Shaheem, after which “it should officially be brought to the attention of the President and relevant authorities.”
Adhaalath does not support “the loss of the economy’s main gate [Male’ International Airport to Indian infrastructure giant GMR] to influential foreign parties” or alleged interference with the judiciary and disregard of decisions by independent commissions.
Shaheem urged the government to enact new regulations under the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994, which had been “agreed upon by 11 religious scholars, a police legal team, the President himself and three Attorneys General.”
Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari observed that disparaging Islam and “every kind of sinful behaviour forbidden in Islam” had become commonplace while political polarization and social ills multiplied.
Bari claimed that foreign parties were “working tirelessly” to introduce freedom of religion in the Maldives.
Adhaalath party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla meanwhile stated that the party’s “main objective” would be to reform youth with Islamic teachings.
The incoming president also contended that the government did not honour its coalition agreement with Adhaalath, adding that “it would not be wrong to say that we alone are still with the government.”
Of the allied parties in the MDP-led coalition that defeated Gayoom in October 2008, only Adhaalath party, the Vice-President’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and the Maldives National Congress (MNC) remain.