The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has conditioned the development of five islands in the Meemu Atoll Dhiggaru constituency on a by-election win for the party on June 6.
Speaking at a rally on Tuesday night, PPM MP and parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan promised to include funds in the 2016 state budget for Dhiggaru constituency development if the PPM candidate Faris Maumoon is elected with more than 70 percent of the vote.
“God willing, if you elect Faris with over 70 percent of the votes we will include the extra money needed to develop projects of Dhihgaru constituency,” the Vilimalé MP said.
Faris is the son of PPM leader and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the nephew of president Abdulla Yameen.
The by-election was triggered by the jailing of former MP Ahmed Nazim, also a PPM member. He was convicted of defrauding the former atolls ministry and imprisoned for life.
The Dhiggaru constituency is a PPM stronghold.
Nihan said the people of Maduvvari, Dhiggaru, Muli, Veyvah and Raimandhoo are casting votes for their future development.
“On June 6 the people of Dhiggaru constituency is not deciding the future of PPM. They are not deciding to give a parliament seat to Faris. The people of Dhihgaru constituency are deciding the development of their constituency.
“I say to the grandmothers and grandfathers, our candidate Faris is the candidate number four. Probably it will be the last in the list. Tick the box only after careful consideration. Then, we will continue the development efforts of the constituency with Faris. PPM parliamentary group promises it.”
Some 2,555 people are eligible to vote in the by-election.
However, Nihan also said the government will not discriminate against constituencies which elected members of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
“We cannot discriminate against a certain group of people just because they have members of the MDP. The president wants development for all areas of Maldives without discrimination,” he said.
The PPM also announced MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla will gift air conditioning systems for the Dhiggaru mosques.
“Abduhraheem told me he had decided to gift eight air-condition system to the mosque by Ramadan. By coincidence this falls in to the period of Faris’s campaigning. But that’s totally different,” Nihan said.
Ruling coalition partner the Maldives Development Alliance has also decided to gift eight air conditioning systems to Madduvari Island, he announced.
“Isn’t this the joy of the vote?”
The by-election is expected to be hotly contested amid heightened political tension following the jailing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as the alleged unfair targeting of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests.
The PPM has previously been accused of bribery over the delivery of an x-ray machine to Muli last week.
The government has also signed an agreement with state-owned Maldives Transport and Construction Company to build a harbour in Dhiggaru.
The ruling party was previously also accused of vote-buying after a high-profile handout of air-conditioners to a school in Raa Atoll Alifushi, shortly before an island council by-election.
The PPM and MDA hold a majority of the 85 member house with 48 MPs. The MDP now has 21 MPs and the opposition Jumhooree Party has 10 seats.