The Jumhoore Party (JP) council yesterday appointed party leader and MP ‘Burma’ Gasim Ibrahim as the party’s presidential candidate to run for presidency in the 2013 presidential elections.
In an interview Gasim gave to his own TV station, Villa TV (VTV), he thanked the council for making the decision and vowed to bring prosperity to the Maldives, and solve all the current issues if he was elected as President.
He accused the current government of destroying the social justice, the constitution and selling state assets, and said the Maldives was “currently in a very serious situation”.
Gasim then called on the citizens to work with courage, saying that he would establish a legal administration and would keep his actions within the law.
Gasim is one of the country’s most successful local resort tycoons, and well known philanthropists, as well as an MP and leader of the JP who enjoys strong support in his home constituency of Maamigilli and was key to the development of Maamigilli airport.
Formerly a coalition partner of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), his small party subsequently aligned itself with the opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), and later with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).
As well as owning VTV, Gasim was last year narrowly appointed as parliament’s representative on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the body at the centre of the current judicial crisis following its acceptance of a civil court injunction against the investigation of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed.
During the recent protests Gasim has campaigned for the judge’s release, and was also a key figure supporting the December 23 protests calling for the defence of Islam in the Maldives.
Under the former government he presided over the treasury as finance minister during a period in which expenditure on the civil service increased 400 percent, leaving the incoming government with a budget deficit of 33 percent.
In 2010 he was accused by the current government of corruption and bribery, however the case was swiftly thrown out by Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
MDP MP Mohamed Mustafa told Minivan News that it was “not surprising” that Gasim had been appointed as the JP’s presidential candidate.
‘’JP is owned by Gasim and it is Gasim himself that decides that Gasim should be the presidential candidate. No one should be surprised about it,’’ Mustafa said. ‘’JP is not a very democratic party, everyone knows that.’’
Mustafa contended that Gasim would be inappropriate as president because he did not have the necessary capability and knowledge.
‘’He will not win the next presidential elections. When it is time for the elections this opposition coalition will split because everyone in the coalition wants to be president,’’ he predicted, adding that Gasim would find himself competing with the ambitions of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his half-brother Abdulla Yameen, DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Leader Dr Hassan Saeed.
‘’When Gayoom feels like he may win the elections, he will ask the others to wait,’’ Mustafa said. ‘’We are all going to wait and watch this happen.’’
He speculated that the Adhaalath Party would likely side with Gasim “because senior figures of Adhaalath are employed by Gasim.”
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Mahlouf did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.