Voters said yes to peace and stability in Saturday’s parliamentary elections and rejected an ideology that was ruining the country, President Abdulla Yameen said at a rally held in Malé last night to celebrate the Progressive Coalition’s victory at the polls.
Voters said no to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) ideology because the country did not have the “energy to bear the wounds any further,” he said.
Voters also rejected foreign interference in Maldivian domestic affairs, Yameen added.
The Maldivian people supported the government’s efforts to develop the nation and fulfil campaign pledges, he continued, and endorsed plans to “take Maldivian youth out of the crime environment, offer a second chance to persons serving sentences, and bring them back to society for rehabilitation.”
The Progressive Coalition will hold celebration rallies across the country in the coming days, Yameen said, including one in Thinadhoo tomorrow night.
In surprising victories, coalition candidates took both parliamentary seats in the MDP’s traditional stronghold in the south.
The rallies will be attended by PPM leader and former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, along with coalition leaders Ahmed Siyam Mohamed and Gasim Ibrahim, Yameen said.
“Good news” will be revealed at the Thinadhoo rally, he said, adding that the PPM’s “list of pledges” was not yet complete.
Continue progress brought by “golden 30 years”
The policies in the PPM manifesto were formulated to transform the “landscape of the Maldives,” he reiterated, stressing that the policies were not limited to raising old age benefits, empowering women, or prioritising Quran and Islamic education.
The PPM-led coalition government’s policies would benefit fishermen, young entrepreneurs, and “people of all ages”, he said.
The main priority of his administration was “putting the economy back on track,” President Yameen said, adding that the public was already seeing signs of the economy rebounding.
Foreign investors were interested in coming to the Maldives because of the current political stability, he said.
“We want to change the Maldives to a modern nation from where President Maumoon’s golden 30 years brought us,” he said.
Acknowledging public discontent over the quality of healthcare, Yameen said fixing problems in the sector was a high priority, noting that there were two or three doctors per 10,000 people in most developed countries.
“With God’s blessing, the Maldives even today is in a position where we have to rejoice. Today there are 1.6 doctors per 1,000 people in the Maldives,” he said.
The foundation for the progress the Maldives has made was laid by President Gayoom, he said.
Separation of powers
Yameen also expressed gratitude to the leadership of the MDP for the prevailing stable political environment.
The opposition party has meanwhile released a press statement expressing “deep concerns” with the electoral environment ahead of polling day on March 22.
“The MDP believes the processes of elections from a quantitative point of view were efficient and well managed. However, continued judicial interference in the electoral process affected the independence of the elections commission, and created an atmosphere not conducive towards holding a free and fair election,” the statement read.
The Supreme Court’s removal of the Elections Commission (EC) chair and deputy chair in proceedings where the apex court was “judge, plaintiff and the jury” was an attempt to “intimidate state actors and voters,” the party contended.
The dismissals of the EC members two weeks before the elections “affected people’s confidence in the election and resulted in lower voter turnout,” the statement read.
The party called on the international community to maintain “robust engagement” with the government to “ensure Maldives does not backtrack on hard-won freedoms and reforms” since the adoption of a democratic constitution in August 2008.
Concerns over the Supreme Court’s negative impact on the electoral environment have also been expressed by EU and Commonwealth observer teams this week.
“The 7 Feb 2012 coup d’état, legitimised by the CoNI report, ushered in a period of authoritarian rule which continues to this day,” former President Mohamed Nasheed was quoted as saying in the MDP statement.
“We have a situation in which the Supreme Court now feels empowered to sentence the Elections Commission on politically motivated charges only a week before polling day,” he said.
“The Maldives no longer has an effective separation of powers and forces close to the former dictatorship now control all three branches of the state.”