Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim has reportedly decided to stand as speaker of the People’s Majlis following the Progressive Coalition’s success in Saturday’s elections.
Despite telling media that he had no plans to stand for the position on Tuesday, Gasim confirmed to Haveeru today that he will put his name forward, with the full backing of his coalition partners.
While the EC has yet to officially announce all the results, the governing coalition – which includes Gasim’s JP alongside the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and the Maldives Development Alliance – looks set to win a comfortable 53 seat majority, including 15 seats for the JP.
Despite expressing his satisfaction with Saturday’s results – which included re-election to his own Maamigili constituency seat – Gasim earlier this week accused coalition party members costing his party almost a third of the seats in which they contested.
Other disgruntled JP candidates accused the PPM of attempting to “destroy” its coalition partner, suggesting that PPM members masquerading as independents actively campaigned against Gasim’s party.
The party’s leader has assured Haveeru today that his decision has the full backing of the PPM and the MDA – winners of 33 and 5 seats, respectively.
“I wouldn’t have come to this decision if I didn’t have the backing of the coalition partners, would I?” Gasim asked the newspaper.
Reputedly the Maldives’ wealthiest individual, Gasim is one of the country’s most prominent businessmen. His Villa Group has interests in numerous sectors, including tourism, education, media, and aviation, as well as carrying out philanthropic activities through the Villa Foundation.
Having previously served as finance minister between 2005 and 2008, and speaker of the Special Majlis – charged with drafting the 2008 constitution – Gasim’s spokesperson Ibrahim Khaleel told Sun Online that the MP had the experience to handle the pressure.
The speaker’s chair is currently filled by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Abdulla Shahid. Despite Shahid himself being returned to the Majlis following Saturday’s polling, 17 MDP incumbents failed to win election to the 18th Majlis, leaving the party with just 29 seats.
The constitution requires that the speaker and deputy speaker’s positions should be filled on the first sitting of the house following a general election, after a secret ballot among members.