Former President Mohamed Nasheed has publicly predicted that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will win the presidential elections on September 7 with 57 percent of the popular vote – six percent more than the required 51 percent to secure election victory without a run-off election.
In 2008, Nasheed was sworn in as the fourth president of the country after a run-off election against his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been in power for 30 years and was Asia’s longest serving leader at the time.
Nasheed’s predictions of securing a first round election victory were dismissed as “meaningless political rhetoric” by the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).
DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef told Minivan News he did not believe there was a single party in the country capable of securing an outright win in September. He suggested that neither former President Nasheed or Maumoon Abdul Gayoom could achieve more than a 25 per cent share of the total vote with their respective parties.
Shareef added that despite recent comments by Nasheed, the former president was aware of the “ground realities” of the country’s politics.
“The Maldives is a very small country. We have seen that since the introduction of political parties, the whole population is more fragmented and polarised,” he said. “We are in a transitional stage right now where independent institutions are weak and political parties are often poorly organised.”
Shareef contended that there was seemingly very little difference in terms of belief or ideology between political parties.
“All parties have similar views, the only difference is that they seek to be the governing party,” he added.
Considering the share of national vote secured by Nasheed in the first round of the 2008 Presidential election, which eventually led to a run-off where he secured his presidency through a coalition, Shareef said he believed very little had changed in regards to his popularity nationally.
He claimed therefore that even considering the superior funding available to the Nasheed-led Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Gayoom-founded PPM, no candidate could secure more than a 25 percent vote.
PPM MP and spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof was not responding to calls at time of press.
During the first round of the elections no candidate out of the six, including Nasheed and Gayoom, were able to secure the required 51 percent. President Gayoom came closest to the mark with 40.34 percent of the vote while Nasheed trailed in the second position with 24.91 percent of the popular vote, resulting in a run-off election.
However Nasheed, backed by the remaining candidates with the exception of Umar Naseer who later went on to become a strong Gayoom supporter – won the election in the second round beating Gayoom with 53.65 percent to 45.32 percent of the popular vote.
Nasheed, who resigned under controversial circumstances on February 7, 2012, made his prediction during a campaign rally on Hithadhoo in Laamu Atoll, during which he declared that the Elections Commission should not worry about the possibility of a run-off election.
“We will not need to go for a second round. Tune onto your radios, subscribe for cable TV and pay your cable bills, for this picture by the will of God, is being witnessed throughout the country. Hithadhoo island, Laamu Atoll and the whole country including its atolls, islands and the capital Male’ are calling for us, the MDP. They want our policies to be implemented,” he claimed.
“Candidate number one, Mohamed Nasheed of Galolhu ward Keneryge will win this election with 121,000 votes in the first round,” Nasheed declared.
Nasheed also repeated his call that no party should intend to join forces with his party if their motive for such an alignment involved a desire for wealth and political influence.
During a previous rally, Nasheed claimed that leaders of many political parties had learned “bitter lessons” over the inability to run a government by sharing cabinet positions among different parties over the last four years.
“A cabinet in which one minister belongs to this party and another belongs to that party, cannot run a government,” Nasheed claimed.
During the Laamu Atoll rally on Monday, Nasheed argued that the world was moving towards two major political ideologies and questioned the need for 13 political parties in the Maldives.
Referring to Aasandha – the Nasheed government’s universal health insurance scheme that was established in a public-private partnership with Allied Insurance – the former president claimed his the scheme had ensured social protection and the general well being of the people, despite several challenges and hardships faced during its implementation.
He warned that should the scheme collapse, the country would return to a tradition where ordinary people were required to beg at the knees of a handful of “elites” in the country.
Following controversial succession of power after Nasheed, current President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administration claimed the Aasandha scheme is no longer financially tenable due to unsustainable demand with the scheme’s current rate of expenditure threatened to reach Rf1 billion (US$64.8 million) on an approved budget of Rf720 million (US$46.6 million).
The incoming Chairman of the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) and State Minister of Home Affairs Thoriq Ali Luthfee at the time claimed that the Aasandha scheme “cannot continue to operate without interventions to control the demand” alleging that the scheme was introduced “for political motives” without any proper planning.
Nasheed had at the time condemned the move citing and dismissed the government’s claim of lack of funds for Aasandha as “unacceptable.”
“More than Rf 150 million (US$10 million) has been spent on police promotions. Another Rf 150 million (US$10 million) has been spent giving MNDF [Maldives National Defense Force] officers two years of allowances in a lump sum. Another Rf 50 million (US$3.3 million) has been spent repairing the damage to police headquarters. It was the police officers who staged the coup who vandalised the place and threw chairs and computers from the building’s windows. When this money has been wasted, we cannot accept it when they say there is no money for Aasandha,” Nasheed said at the time.
The question of Nasheed’s ability to contest in the presidential elections still remains unanswered. The Prosecutor General has charged him under section 81 of the Penal Code with the offence of arresting an innocent person for his controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court during the last days of his presidency – if convicted, he could be barred from contesting the election.
The trial is currently suspended following an appeal by Nasheed’s legal team contesting the legitimacy of Judicial Service Commission (JSC)’s appointment of the panel of judges to preside on the hearing.