The religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) has issued a statement slamming claims by President Mohamed Waheed to AFP that the party included “extremists”.
During a two day official visit to Sri Lanka President Waheed told the news agency that it was “better to work with” with the self-claimed Islamist party despite some elements within the party holding “extreme views”, since excluding the party from mainstream politics risked marginalising it. This, he said, would have a “negative long-term effect”.
“We believe we can work with [Adhaalath], we believe we must work with them, because not working with them would be to marginalise them,” Waheed told the AFP.
“Rejecting them would have a more negative long term effect. Inclusion is better than exclusion. It is better to take them on board. Better to work with them,” he added.
In a statement (Dhivehi) published on the party’s website on Tuesday, the Adhaalath Party said that it had been offended by the remarks and that such comments from the President would affect its relationship with Waheed’s party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP).
The party also denounced the claim that it held extreme views.
“The Adhaalath Party does not by any means hold extremist views. The party is working to introduce Islamic principles to the country, to protect the Islamic faith of the country and the country’s sovereignty,” read the statement.
“Therefore, the party leadership and its members are deeply disappointed by such allegations,” it added.
The Adhaalath Party is a member of the President’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition, backing Waheed’s bid for election in September. The coalition also includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), although several key members of the latter have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.
Local media meanwhile reports that the two parties have had a falling out with each other after the Adhaalath Party expressed concern over a lack of campaign activities.
The recent exchange is likely to worsen already strained ties between the parties, while unconfirmed reports suggest Adhaalath is considering the possibility of entering into coalition with resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).
However President Waheed in local media has maintained he is confident the Adhaalath Party will remain in his coalition.