Many successful candidates in the local council election remained unaware of their new responsibilities, or even the mandate of a local council, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has said.
“It is a fact that candidates from many parties including ours may not be clear on their responsibilities and mandates,” Thasmeen told Minivan News.
At present though, the DRP leader said that the party’s key priority was to set out timelines and policy on how local councils would operate, and how they would collaborate with parliament – something he said there were few details of at present.
“We don’t have any details on when the local councils will begin their work, and there are many issues that need to be finalised,” said the opposition party leader. “For example, how will these councils interact with the government?”
Parties across the political spectrum would be required to provide “support structures” such as technical training to try prepare individual council members for decentralised governance, he explained.
Thasmeen added that he was ultimately satisfied with the party’s performance in the election, and believed it was on track to obtain at least 50 percent of all council seats as the results of more ballots became known.
“The council elections have been a good victory, our forecasts now show that perhaps we can obtain 60 percent of the total vote with the MDP at around 35 percent,” he said.
In light of the DRP’s performance at the polls, former president and the party’s honorary leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom hosted a “Welcome to Blue Maldives” celebration yesterday together with ousted Deputy Leader Umar Naseer. However Thasmeen said that “as a party we have made the decision to not formally hold a victory party as we have work to do relating to local councils.”
Thasmeen said that while the opposition party’s 2013 presidential campaign would be very different to the local council elections, it did provide stepping stones for the way ahead.
Meanwhile, reports of factions forming within the DRP between supporters of Thasmeen and dismissed former DRP Deputy Leader Umar Naseer do not appear to be going away.
Umar Naseer today forwarded reports of the alleged resignation of Dr Mohamed Saud, Thasmen’s recently appointed Advisor on Human Resources after taking part in a DRP victory rally.
Thasmeen said he had been unable to confirm the reports with Dr Saud at time of press, and was unable to disclose any more details on the allegations until his office had spoken with the advisor.
The ruling party was similarly upbeat about the results of the election. A senior government source, also an MDP member, told Minivan News that “traditionally, governments usually get a kicking in midterm elections.”
“We’re still analysing the results but we won the population centres and it looks like we’ll be ahead in the popular vote. We won Male’, Addu, Kulhufushi and Thinadhoo – in Fuvahmulah it was more split,” the source said.
“We got 25 percent in the presidential election, 33 percent in the parliamentary election – I think we could see 40 percent in this election, if not higher.”
Transparency Maldives has meanwhile expressed concern at the amount of “subtle” campaigning conducted inside and outside the polling areas.
Transparency’s spokesperson Aiman Rasheed said that “nearly all observers” had noticed this taking place.
“The EC has said it was not able to find really experienced officials and ended up relying on some very young people, particularly on the islands,” he said. “There was a lot of intimidation of polling officials.”
There were also some issues with assisted voting, Rasheed added, with elected officials inconsistent in allowing assisted votes. Inconsistency had also been observed in declaring ballots invalid, he said.
Despite these observations, Rasheed said the election “was credible and very transparent in the way it was conducted.”
He did note issues with media outlets struggling to provide balanced coverage in the lead-up to the vote, “which is when many people make their decisions”.
“MNBC said it was trying but opposition parties were boycotting them, while DhiTV and VTV said the same thing about the ruling party. The state media also said its budget had been slashed. A lot of journalists have also come up and told us their editorial policy on paper was different from how things really worked.”