MDP holds street rally in front of Gasim’s residence

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has held a street rally in front of Gasim Ibrahim’s residence in order to show solidarity with the Jumhooree Party (JP) leader in defending the Constitution.

The rally themed ‘In Defense of the Constitution’ held last night was attended by senior members of the MDP, with Maamigili MP Gasim also coming out of Maafannu Villa for a brief period of time to meet with the crowd.

Speaking at the rally, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said the parties were having informal talks to create a platform to defend the Constitution, which will emerge as one of the friendliest and most cooperative the nation has seen.

“We are protesting near Maafannu Villa or near any other political figure to protect the Maldivian Constitution. We should not be concerned about following someone or leading someone, rather Maldivians must rally behind the national flag and defend the constitution”, said Waheed.

MDP Vice president Mohamed Shifaz who also addressed the rally last night announced that the party will hold a protest march on Friday (January 23), starting at the Raalhugandu area in Malé.

The party has also announced that it will be holding rallies on street corners to raise awareness regarding the “destruction of the Maldivian Constitution”.

Yesterday’s rally marks a continued rapprochement between the opposition and the JP – which was officially aligned with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives until May last year, after having given crucial backing to Abdulla Yameen in the 2013 presidential race.

Yameen eventually beat MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed in a much-delayed poll after the Supreme Court’s controversial annulment of the first round following complaints lodged by third-placed candidate Gasim.

A warming of relations

MDP Spokesman Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News today that it is time to leave the rocky past behind and for “all political parties including Mr Gasim’s Jumhooree Party to stand together with the MDP to defend the Constitution”.

“Defending the Constitution is not only the MDP’s job but everyone else’s too. The MDP is fighting for a cause in which, if anybody or politician is subjected to injustice or unfairness, the MDP would defend them and the Constitution”, said Fahmy.

Meanwhile, JP Spokesperson Ahmed Sameer stated that if all parties reflect on the experiences of the past and work with “sincerity and good will”, the JP is confident that the party will be able to work with the MDP.

“I do not see why MDP and JP cannot travel on the same boat. If are able to do fruitful work for this cause, perhaps it will pave way for further cooperation in the future”, Sameer said.

The previous alliance between the MDP and the JP – as part of Nasheed’s coalition government in 2008 – lasted less than one month. Gasim subsequently joined the anti-government movement in 2011 before the controversial resignation of Nasheed in early 2012.

Movement between the two parties has been frequent, however, with a number of prominent politicians switching between the two – most notably former MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice President Alhan Fahmy both leaving for the JP in 2012 before returning in 2013.

After returning to the MDP following the JP’s decision to back Yameen for the presidency in late 2013, Dr Didi said that the two parties were similar in their reformist ideology.

“To tell the truth, 80 percent of Honourable Gasim’s heart is still with the MDP. This is a very clear reality. Even if he had to make a decision under duress, he is a person who worked in the front ranks since 1984 to bring reform to the Maldives,” he said.

Speaking at a rally in the capital Malé last weekend, former President Nasheed said that, despite their political differences, he would not allow President Yameen to destroy the JP leader Gasim.

“Gasim’s property cannot be looted. Gasim’s character and body cannot be harmed,” he told supporters. “We shall rally in his defense”.

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