The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has been accused of bribery for delivering an x-ray machine to the island of Muli in Meemu Atoll two weeks ahead of a parliamentary by-election.
PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan said the government had delivered an x-ray machine to Muli, in the Dhiggaru constituency, and urged islanders to vote for PPM candidate Faris Maumoon.
— Ahmed Nihan (@ahmed_nihan) May 18, 2015
“The government fulfills its pledges, vote for our candidate Faris Maumoon,” he said in a tweet yesterday.
The tweet triggered accusations of bribery, with one Twitter user describing the move as “cannibalism.”
We will provide you an X-Ray machine bought from your money in exchange for your votes to ur candidate! Cannibalism! — Ibrahim Mohamed (@shuibs) May 19, 2015
Others questioned if the state had also paid for a radiologist at the island hospital.
@ibujalyl and who bears the running cost and the salary for radiologist? State? If so x-ray machine is an unplanned burden on taxpayers.
— Kakuni (@kakuni007) May 18, 2015
One highlighted the distribution of air conditioners in Raa Atoll Alifushi before an island council by-election in April, and said the donation of x-ray machines to Muli were similar.
— Mirshan Salih (@MirshanS) May 18, 2015
raajje therey meeha needs xray machine when only male beyfulha needs a vote pic.twitter.com/gozyToL7tc
“Islanders only needs x-ray machine when the Malé man needs a vote,” another said, referring to the lingering discrimination between islanders and residents of Malé.
@MickailNaseem , XRay machine hirafus aran hunnaanee . Dhen anna Election ah technician . Evaru ok vaane .one at a time .
— June (@junerasheed) May 18, 2015
“The x-ray machine will only gather dust. A technical will only be set for the next election. That is OK, one at a time,” June Rasheed said.
However, speaking to Minivan News today, Nihan said funds for the x-ray machines was allocated in the 2015 budget, and described the move as “a service to the people.”
“This is a government which makes promises and fulfills them. That is why the people should vote for Faris Maumoon in the upcoming election,” said Nihan.
The government has also signed an agreement with state-owned Maldives Transport and Construction Company to build to harbors in the Dhiggaru constituency.
“All of these projects were included in the budget, after the former MP asked for the development projects for his constituency,” he said.
The by-election, scheduled for June 6, was triggered by the conviction of former PPM MP Ahmed Nazim on corruption charges. The Supreme Court had stripped Nazim of his seat after sentencing him to 25 years in prison on April 6 for defrauding the state of MVR1.4 million (US$91,400).
Former President Maumoon Abdull Gayyoom’s son Faris secured the ruling party ticket after winning a primary with 67 percent of the vote against Meemu atoll council president.
Another PPM atoll councillor, Moosa Naseer Ahmed, is also contesting the by-election as an independent candidate. The third candidate is the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s Ahmed Raazee.
The ruling part was previously also accused of vote-buying after a high-profile handout of air-conditioners to a school in Raa Atoll Alifushi, shortly before a council by-election.