The government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) said it remains undeterred by legal disputes over the outcome of the party’s recent primary as it prepares to unveil the running mate of presidential candidate MP Abdulla Yameen.
PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said that a “perfect running mate” would be announced tonight at the special event, which will be held from 9:00pm at the Dharubaaruge conference centre in Male’.
“We have selected a political candidate who has the best interests of the country,” Nihan told Minivan News ahead of the ceremony, adding that the PPM was one of the few parties in the country currently in a position to be able to announce a presidential running mate.
Divisions have appeared between certain PPM supporters following March’s primary after MP Yameen was accused by Umar Naseer, his only rival in the contest of having controlled all of the party’s organs. Yameen was alleged to have had full control of the PPM council and election committee, as well as being accused of having “rigged” the vote in his favour by ballot stuffing and falsifying the count.
Naseer, who has since been removed from the party after refusing to retract or apologise over the allegations, has sought to invalidate the outcome of the primary as well as the decision to revoke his membership.
He personally resubmitted the case to invalidate the PPM primary this week, alleging that thousands of voters were not officially registered with the party at the time they cast votes on their preferred candidate.
Naseer has declined to speak or provide information to Minivan News.
Despite the ongoing legal action, PPM MP Nihan dismissed Naseer’s allegations as “egotistical stories”, accusing the party’s former interim deputy leader of having lost whatever influence in the party he once had – even among his traditional supporters.
“Those aligned with him during the primary are working very closely with the current party leadership now,” he said.
Nihan added his belief that the PPM’s campaign work in the build up to September’s presidential elections was not being adversely impacted by the ongoing legal battles with Naseer, who himself had previously worked to outline the party’s strategy.
“I do not think there will be issues [from Naseer’s legal action]. The election work has already been done. Before he started telling his egotistical stories [Naseer] had called on Yameen to implement these plans,” he said.
Before former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom established the PPM back in 2011, Naseer previously served as a deputy leader in the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) before being dismissed in December 2010.
Naseer’s dismissal at the time led to an escalation of infighting in the DRP – the first political party formed by Gayoom back in 2005 – leading to an eventual split between the former president’s followers and those of current party Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.
Nihan said he remained critical of Naseer’s commitment to individual parties following his dismissal from the DRP and later the PPM.
“After the primary, we began to hear these egostistical stories [from Naseer]. This was why the decision was taken by committee to remove him from the party,” he said. “[Naseer] is playing the the same old game he has always play, I do not believe there is a sports club or party in the country that he could belong to for more than a few months,” he claimed.
With the announcement of PPM presidential candidate Yameen’s running mate scheduled for tonight, Nihan added that the party continued to move forward with its elections plans, adding that the publication of its manifesto was expected “shortly”.
He added that the PPM was targeting a broad number of policies including trying to stabilise the national economy and provide opportunities “for the youth”, as well as previously announced focuses on developing a domestic oil industry would also be key stands for the party during elections.
Nihan also praised the party’s work in compiling demographic data based around polling during the previous presidential and parliamentary elections of 2008 and 2009 respectively.
“We have a great study on demographics that will help us identify trends and concerns of voters,” he added.
Nihan claimed that a notable concern already from such data was the anticipation by 2020 of the country having an increasingly ageing population that would put a greater burden on the state to ensure their care.
He also identified concerns over outdated data as another significant concern that MP Yameen and the PPM would hope to address to ensure that voters were being correctly.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – the country’s largest party in terms of MPs – has in recent months unveiled a number of detailed policies as part of its own election campaign.
These plans include the development of a mariculture industry in the country it has claimed could generate US$1.05 billion (MVR 16.19 billion) for local organisations, as well as a pledge to support and expand mid-market tourism through the country’s guesthouse sector.
The DRP, which is also in the process of drafting its manifesto ahead of September’s elections, claimed earlier this month that it offered the only “moderate” alternative to the “divisive” policies of the MDP and PPM.
DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom previously said that between the increasingly “polarised views” of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), his party represented an alternative viewpoint for voters and politicians alike.