The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has declared it will continue to support and cooperate with the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed, despite condemning the “harsh and abrupt” sacking of Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
The President’s Office has this week maintained that as Dr Jameel was a presidential appointee to the home minister role, his decision to stand as a direct rival to President Waheed in the upcoming election made his position untenable.
In a press release issued Sunday (May 12) following an emergency meeting of the PPM council in Addu City, the largest party in the current coalition government expressed “concern and regret” over President Waheed “sacrificing national interest” to serve his presidential ambitions.
“As you would recall, while the new government was at a critical juncture, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was appointed minister of home affairs for his competence, daring as well as academic and legal talents; and not under any circumstances in consideration of a party,” the press release stated.
It added that Dr Jameel served President Waheed faithfully and had won the respect of the security services and the public.
“Despite President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik prioritising self-interest at this time, PPM will always prioritise national interest. To that end, continuing to support the government on behalf of the beloved people of the Maldives until the end of the upcoming presidential election and completion of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s presidential term is PPM’s aim,” the press release continued.
The PPM council’s statement concluded with the assurance that the party would not consider any course of action that could lead to political turmoil and unrest.
The sacking of Dr Jameel fueled speculation that the minority party in parliament could withdraw its support of the governing coalition.
Despite its decision to back the government, the PPM council decided that President Waheed’s recent trips out of Male’ constituted campaigning with state funds and appealed to its members not to welcome the president during his visits to islands.
Speaking at a press conference in Addu City following the council meeting, MP Ahmed Mahloof said the party was concerned that the president’s “self-interest” dictated the sacking of Home Minister Jameel.
Mahloof claimed that 90 percent of people who had greeted President Waheed during his trips to islands were PPM members.
“From now on PPM members will not come out during the president’s trip to islands. We cannot provide cooperation when he is campaigning at the state’s expense,” he said.
Responding to the PPM decision, Political Affairs Advisor to the President Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeg told Sun Online this week that people greeting the president in his visits were not “puppets” of political parties.
“President Waheed is accepted by the people as their president. He has gained the people’s support. People went out to welcome and support former President Maumoon, also because he was a good person. Similarly, President Waheed receives support because he is accepted by the people and because he is a good person. The people are not asked to do this by parties. This is sincere support by the Maldivian people,” he was quoted as saying.
On Sunday, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News that both President Waheed and Dr Jameel understood the reason for his dismissal as home minister. Masood added that no other PPM cabinet members would be affected by the decision.
“I don’t think there would be a need to throw out other PPM members from the cabinet, that is unless they themselves wished to resign from their positions,” he said.
Masood said at the time that the PPM had continued to offer their support to the current government even after Dr Jameel’s dismissal. He added that any other cabinet appointees who decided to stand directly against President Waheed in the upcoming elections would also be required to leave their posts to prevent possible conflict of interests – regardless of their party affiliation.
Meanwhile, speaking to press on Tuesday upon returning from campaigning in Addu City, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said President Waheed’s coalition did not pose a threat to PPM’s presidential bid.
The PPM figurehead and leader argued that power sharing coalitions were not a feature of presidential systems, such as in the United States.
The party also does not accept that Dr Jameel was dismissed because of a potential conflict of interest, Gayoom said.
“Our PPM members are also in cabinet because we want to serve the public. It is not a coalition government formed to support a particular individual who is running for president,” he was quoted as saying by local media.
Gayoom’s remarks followed an announcement by the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) of a formal coalition with President Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) ahead of the presidential election in September.
GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News yesterday (May 14) that the party was confident the alliance backing Dr Waheed could defeat the two largest parties – PPM and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
PPM MP Ahmed Nihan however insisted that even if the president’s coalition included all other political parties in the country, the election will remain a contest between the rival ideologies of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former President Gayoom.
“Just 48 hours ago we concluded a meeting in Addu Atoll, one of the largest areas in the country outside of Male’. Given the numbers of people we met there, it is clear there are only two parties,” he said yesterday.