The government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has confirmed talks have been held with “senior members” of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) over potentially standing in a coalition for this year’s presidential election.
PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Nihan has told Minivan News that “several meetings” had been held between the party’s vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah and Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.
Nihan could not provide further details of what conclusion had been reached between the two parties, but claimed that the AP’s potential support would be a “huge boost” for the PPM’s election campaign.
Confirmation of the talks follows the AP’s announcement on Thursday (July 11) that it had quit President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition due to “mysterious events”.
The decision was taken just 24 hours after the AP publicly criticised President Waheed, accusing him of telling international media that the party had “extremist” elements.
However, AP President Sheikh Imran today rejected local media reports that his party had held any discussions with any other political groups following the termination of its coalition agreement with President Waheed.
Sheik Imran was not responding to calls at time of press.
PPM MP Nihan said today that with recent reports of “uneasiness” between the AP and President Waheed, talks had been held with senior leadership over a possible collaboration. However, he said it was uncertain if any coalition could be reached between the PPM and AP at present.
Nihan added that any potential agreement would still need to be approved by the PPM’s council before being finalised, though he said that the party’s charter did allow for presidential candidate MP Yameen and his running mate to hold talks with other candidates over key issues.
A meeting of the PPM Council has been scheduled for tonight, according to party officials.
Nihan said that he remained of the view that a coalition government was not a solution to run the Maldives effectively at the current time – an argument he claimed had been proven conclusively by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) coming to power backed by a number of parties in 2008.
Parties including the now government-aligned Jumhoree Party, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and later the AP all eventually left former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government after backing him as their presidential candidate.
Nasheed later controversially resigned from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military on February 7, 2012, with the MDP alleging a “coup d’eat” had toppled the country’s first democratically elected government.
“We believe it is difficult to have a coalition here,” Nihan claimed, adding that multi-party democracy in the country was still a very new concept.
He said that despite any potential boost the AP would provide to the PPM’s support base during the presidential election, concerns remained about how successful a coalition could be in the country.
In May, Nihan claimed that although the PPM would continue to lend its support to the present coalition backing President Waheed, the party was not looking to enter into a collaboration ahead of the election scheduled for September.
“Originally in the first round of the 2008 elections, former President Gayoom failed to obtain enough votes to get re-elected. As we know, [former President] Nasheed then formed a coalition to win the election in the second round,” he said. “What we saw then was after 20 days, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim resigned without much reason from the government. This has put a big question mark over the strength of coalitions.”
Speaking at the conclusion of a campaign visit in Raa Atoll yesterday (July 13), MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, President Waheed’s running mate for the upcoming election, was reported in local media as saying that no other candidate had as strong of a team in the upcoming election as the incumbent.
Thasmeen, Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), claimed President Waheed continued to be backed with the “most capable” people that would be able to run a government responsibly, according to Sun Online.
“Considering the ongoing campaigns, it wouldn’t be an untruth if I said that no other candidate has a team as strong as the ‘forward with the nation’ team. You would see who are included in the teams, if you look at the front row during major ceremonies, and if you watch party rallies on TV and the people who speak on stage during these functions,” he was reported as saying.
“I think that the team behind President Waheed consists of capable people who can responsibly run the government, even if they assume this responsibility tomorrow.”
Thasmeen also reportedly praised the president’s patience for being able to run a government with parties who did not always support him on key issues.
Thasmeen and President Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were not responding to calls at time of press.