The Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) members have elected former President Mohamed Nasheed as the party’s candidate for the next presidential elections.
Nasheed stood unopposed for the presidential nomination, although MDP regulations state that sole candidates must receive the votes of at least 10 percent of the party’s membership.
The MDP’s current membership stands at 48,181 according the Election Commission (EC)’s figures, giving it the largest membership of any party in the country. Therefore Nasheed had to gain just over 4,800 votes to secure the nomination.
Following the final count of the 258 ballot boxes, Nasheed recorded 31,798 votes in favour to 269 against his being the party’s presidential candidate, after over two-thirds of the party’s membership turned out to vote. Chairperson candidate Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik had 29,044 votes in favour to 2160 against, while Deputy Chairperson candidate Ali Shiyam had 563 in favour to 7 against.
The MDP has called for fresh elections on a regular basis since Nasheed’s resignation from the presidency on February 7 – a resignation he later claimed was made under duress. The party has held regular demonstrations since that time calling for early elections.
The current President, Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, has stated repeatedly that the earliest date elections can be held is July 2013 according to the constitution. He recently also told UK media that he refused to resign and hand power to the speaker, a decision which would also trigger an early election. Speaking to the BBC last week, Waheed also said that holding elections before key institutions can be strengthened would be hazardous to the stability of the country.
Despite the questioned legitimacy of the current President , MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the party had never wanted to return Nasheed to the Presidency without fresh polls.
“The remedy is election, not reinstatement,” he said.
Ghafoor also stated his belief that, with the reformed CNI due to begin its investigations soon, there was no reason for the MDP not to begin its election preparations.
Today’s internal elections decided upon a number of other key posts within the party including chairperson and deputy chairperson, as well as atoll constituency presidents and secretaries.
Polling took place around the country as well as in three locations around the capital Male’, including Male’ City Hall.
MP for the Hulhu-Henveiru constitutency in Male’ Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik was standing uncontested for the role of party chairperson, having served in this position on an interim basis previously. The position of deputy chairperson was being vied for by Nasheed’s former economic advisor Ali Shiyam.
Both men also appeared to have achieved the 10 percent minimum vote at the time of press.
The elections come after a period of internal dissent within the party, culminating in a vote to oust the party president and vice president from their positions.
The MDP’s National Council met on April 30 to vote on the no-confidence motions against the President Dr Ibrahim Didi, and Vice President Alhan Fahmy.
Hamed Abdul Ghafoor said at the time that the motions had come after both men had been making statements considered to be against the official party line regarding the events surrounding Nasheed’s resignation, alleging they were trying to bring about a coup within the party.
A party resolution on February 8 had declared that the previous day’s events had amounted to a coup d’etat and that Nasheed and his cabinet should continue to sit in the party’s National Council as senior members of government.
The motions were approves by 95 percent of those present and both Didi and Fahmy have since left the MDP, joining the Jumhooree Party earlier this month.
Didi and Fahmy have criticised the internal democracy of the party, alleging that Nasheed’s authority within the party has become too great, blaming him for personally instigating their ejection.
“No one person or a group can hijack a party like that,” said Fahmy at a rally held to ‘free the MDP’ from Nasheed’s allegedly nefarious influence.
Didi and Fahmy have also been quoted in local media as describing Nasheed as a ‘spiritual leader’ who removes anybody that speaks out against him.
Last month, the pair also alleged that the recent removal of MDP General Secretary Hassan Shah, who subsequently moved to the JP, was intended to manipulate today’s elections
Fahmy is reported to have grouped Nasheed with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, charging both men with “hijacking” Maldivian politics.
“These two people had hijacked the whole country’s political beliefs during the political turmoil in the country. This is not an idea anymore. Former President Gayoom and former President Nasheed are here now. The people need to understand that democracy is not something we get by following a certain person’s belief,” Haveeru reported Fahmy as saying in late May.
‘Reeko’ Moosa has since been called on any prospective candidates to replace the two deposed members to halt their campaigns whilst the party considers whether the posts of party President and Vice President are still needed.
Voting for these posts was scheduled for August 31.