Ousted President Mohamed Nasheed launched his campaign for the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) presidential primary, on the island of Magoodhoo in Faafu Atoll on Sunday.
Nasheed alleges he was deposed in a coup d’état on February 7 and has called for early elections within 2012. The Commonwealth and the EU have supported the call. However, new President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has said the earliest constitutionally-permitted date for elections was July 2013.
The MDP presidential primary is to be held on June 15. Nasheed is presently the MDP’s sole candidate, but has to win 10 percent of votes in order to gain the MDP candidacy.
Speaking to Magoodhoo residents, Nasheed emphasised the importance of an elected government claiming the chances of a 2013 election were slim if an election could not be held in 2012.
“When a government is elected through a vote, it fosters a close relationship between the people and their leaders. Such a government will benefit the people, it will fulfill the needs of the people. Because the government originates from the people,” Nasheed said.
“No earthly power, not even that of the police or military, can equal the power of the people. When an individual finds courage in another, and the people come out to enforce their will, no one can challenge that will. Not even the police, the military or judges,” he added.
President Waheed’s administration was established by force, Nasheed claimed, and was prioritising the approval of the police and military over that of service delivery.
“The current administration will prioritise getting the approval of the police and military. The government treasury, the government’s expenditure, will not be spent on the people. They will have to end Aasandha, dismiss the utility companies, abolish the health corporations. They will have to stop the transport network,” he said.
President Waheed has repealed many of Nasheed’s policies, including the abolition of regional health and utility corporations, reviewing the free universal healthcare scheme Aasandha, ending the second chance program for rehabilitation of inmates, and halting all public-private-partnership development projects claiming the contracts’ legality needed to be reviewed.
The coalition of political parties backing Waheed have accused Nasheed of corruption in the awarding of development contracts.
Waheed had also decided to accept resort islands’ lease extension payments in installments rather than upfront at the end of the lease. The MDP has alleged the move will immediately take US$135 million out of state coffers.
“They did not make any promises, hence, they have no way to fulfill promises,” Nasheed said regarding Waheed’s policies.
Nasheed campaigned on a platform of development, pledging to continue installing water and sewerage systems, development of harbors and improving education, utility and health services at island level through public-private-partnerships.
The policy would “award an island for resort development to companies who develop water and sewerage system in an inhabited island,” Nasheed said.
“I cannot understand why we should hoard Maldives’ resources when Maldivian citizens do not get the services they need. Magoodhoo does not have a proper sewerage system or potable water. Magoodhoo does not have a harbor. But Magoodhoo has two to three islands in its lagoon. I do not understand why we let these islands be left untouched for Valla [sea bird] to lay eggs on in the belief they are invaluable natural resources,” he added.
The MDP administration had allocated 150 islands to lease out to companies on the condition of carrying out development work in the atolls of the Maldives.
Nasheed urged all MDP members to vote in the party’s primary.
“I assure you I will not take undue benefits from your vote. I pledge to fulfill the party’s promises to you. I assure you I will not steal a single laari of your money,” Nasheed said.
“We have a vision, a picture, a hope, a dream, a thought to change this island. MDP knows what must be done to gain development,” he added.
During his visit, Nasheed also visited the islands of Kudhahuvadhoo, Meedhoo, Bilehdhoo and Feeali. He lay foundations for MDP offices in Meedhoo and Biledhoo.