The Jumhooree Party’s (JP’s) national executive council has decided to endorse Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen in the second round of the presidential election scheduled for November 16.
JP presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim told the press following the council meeting that the decision was approved with a “comfortable majority.”
While the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) manifesto had a number of similarities with the JP’s, Gasim said the JP and PPM manifestos shared more in common.
Gasim said he hoped Yameen would be elected and appealed for his supporters to vote for the PPM candidate. The business tycoon added that he would participate in the PPM campaign.
Yameen, who polled 29.73 percent (61,295) in the first round of the presidential election, is due to face MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed, who won 46.93 percent (96,747) of the vote, in a run-off election on Saturday after neither candidate reached the required 50 percent plus one vote.
Gasim finished in third place with 23.37 percent in the November 9 revote and announced the following day that the party’s council had decided not to back either candidate.
However, both the MDP and PPM had sought Gasim’s endorsement this week. Following a meeting yesterday with the PPM figurehead, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Gasim told the press that he would ask the council to reconsider its decision.
A number of JP, PPM and MDP supporters gathered outside the JP’s main campaign headquarters at Maafanu Kunooz while the council meeting was ongoing. The meeting lasted more than four hours.
While the JP council has 29 members, not all were present at today’s meeting.
Dhivehi Qaumee Party MP Riyaz Rasheed and Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla were present before the start of the meeting at 4:15pm today. The pair left around 5:20pm.
Riyaz however returned around 6:15pm with JP council member and youth wing leader Moosa Anwar, who later tweeted that he was “proud to convince council members that Nasheed is not a choice.”
A dissenting JP council member, Moosa Rameez, tweeted shortly after the meeting that the JP council has “approved maintaining Maumoon’s family rule with 15 votes.”
The council reportedly decided to back Yameen with 15 votes in favour and five abstentions. The five who abstained were former Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed, JP President Dr Ibrahim Didi, Secretary General Hassan Shah, Moosa Rameez and Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan.
JP Leader Gasim, who chaired the council meeting, reportedly did not participate in the vote or argue in favour of supporting either candidate before calling the vote.
Didi and Shah were formerly senior MDP members while Dr Hussain Rasheed was State Minister for Fisheries in the MDP government. Dr Shamheed had declared that he was “with President Nasheed in the second round” after the announcement of the provisional results on November 9.
JP’s Male’ City Council member Ahmed Hameed ‘Fly’ meanwhile alleged to local media that PPM bribed council members to influence the decision.
Speaking in the state broadcaster Television Maldives’ (TVM’s) Raajje Miadhu programme after the JP council decision tonight, Yameen expressed confidence of winning Saturday’s election with Gasim’s 48,131 votes.