The government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) has said no decision has been made on whether to join a coalition backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed in September’s election, as it prepares to officially choose it presidential candidate and leader.
Vice-chair of the JP’s Congress Committee Mohamed Haleem has told Minivan News that the party’s candidate for this year’s presidential election will officially be announced in June during its national conference.
He said that the party’s leader chosen at the conference would then go on to become presidential candidate of the JP. However, Haleem added that he was presently unaware if anyone would be contesting against current party leader and founder MP Gasim Ibrahim.
Earlier this month, the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) announced it would be joining the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in a coalition backing President Waheed. The DRP is the largest party in terms of MP numbers to so far back President Waheed, whose own Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) party has no political representation in either parliament or local councils.
Despite serving with the DQP, GIP, Adhaalath Party, DRP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in the present government, Haleem added that the JP was committed to unveiling its own presidential candidate, as well as preparing contests to appoint other senior leadership during its three day national conference.
The JP was founded by MP Gasim, a resort tycoon, business magnate and member of watchdog body the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), who is considered presidential candidate for the party having already stood during the country’s first multi-party democratic election in 2008.
However, Haleem told Minivan News that the party’s presidential candidate would only be known when announced next month during the three day congress scheduled to run from June 27 to June 29.
“The main aims of the conference will be to amend certain party regulations as well as host an election for the position of party leader and other appointees like deputy leader,” he said. “We will also look to appoint members to different wings of the party.”
Haleem claimed that no discussions would be held during the conference over the possibility of joining President Waheed’s coalition, adding that any agreement on power sharing was presently considered a separate matter from its internal elections.
MP Gasim was reported in local media last month as claiming he would be prepared to form a coalition with other parties ahead of September’s election, but would not stand as a running mate of another candidate.
Just a day earlier, JP Spokesman Moosa Ramiz said the party had ruled out the idea of forming a coalition with fellow government-aligned parties ahead of this year’s elections, despite its involvement in recent power sharing talks with President Waheed.
As rival candidates begin to position themselves ahead of elections, GIP spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza last week claimed voters would shun the country’s two largest political parties in favour of the “national stability” offered by a coalition representing the current government.
Meanwhile the fellow government-aligned PPM – the country’s second largest party in terms of number of MPs –back in March elected MP Abdulla Yameen to stand as its presidential candidate and has continued to reject calls to join a coalition against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ahead of elections.
Former Maldives President and founder of the PPM, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, previously told local media that Dr Waheed’s coalition presented no threat to the election bid of its own candidate MP Abdulla Yameen.
Meanwhile, MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed contended during an interview with state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) on May 16 that President Waheed and the DRP has been forced to form a coalition out of necessity.
Nasheed questioned the coalition’s claims that it presented a “third way” for voters as opposed to the policies of the MDP and PPM and reiterated his belief that power-sharing coalitions were not compatible with a presidential system of government.
“I do not see a citizen who wants ‘another way.’ What is the path to deliver this way [to development]? We do not hear [political parties] talking about that,” he said. “We are presenting one path to that [development]. We believe MDP’s policies will bring prosperity to the people. I do not see this third way you referred to as ‘a way.’ I see it as two men with no other way. That is not a political philosophy,” he said.