The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has initiated discussions with coalition partner, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), to jointly contest in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
While dismissing rumours of having left the government coalition, the AP has announced that it will be contesting in both the parliamentary and local council elections separately from the other coalition members.
The party has further announced that all of its parliamentary candidates will possess educational qualifications to a postgraduate level.
Last week, the AP announced that it had made no agreements regarding working together in the local council and parliamentary elections with the government coalition. Party spokesperson Ali Zahir informed local media that, having worked with the coalition to succeed in the second round of 2013’s presidential elections “without setting any conditions”, the party did not have any subsequent obligation in the upcoming elections.
He said that unlike the other parties in the coalition, the AP was not promised a specific percentage of slots to contest in the upcoming elections. While admitting that the separate candidates could give rise to complications in some constituencies, Zahir claimed that there was no misunderstanding between the party and its coalition members.
“While there were no discussions among the parties’ leadership, in most areas contestants came out after discussion with coalition members in that particular constituency. However, there are some areas in which there might be have been some clashes between who is contesting,” Zahir was quoted as saying.
On Saturday, AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla stated that, while the party had held discussions with the Jumhooree Party (JP) about contesting local council elections, no “meaningful or detailed discussions” had been held with the main coalition party PPM.
“When there is less than 24 hours left, and PPM still does not decide on the matter or speak with us about it, and we proceed to separately submit the candidacy form of our contestants, I don’t believe it can be termed as our initiative to separately contest,” Imran said then.
He stated that at an island-level, the parties still worked together, with a view to resolving matters amicably through inter-party deliberations. He too admitted that certain disappointment had arisen in a small number of constituencies regarding those contesting.
Imran asserted that the AP had no issues with coalition members and repeated that he remained steadfast in his belief that the AP had backed PPM in the presidential elections as a crucial sacrifice to protect Islam and the nation.
“Perhaps the PPM is so busy with handling other governing matters within the executive. This might explain their delay in initiating discussions with us,” Imran opined.
PPM initiates discussions with AP
On Monday, the PPM announced that it had commenced discussions with the AP to jointly contest in the parliamentary elections.
“We have started discussions on the matter with Islamic Minister Shaheem and AP President Imran. AP has decided to compile a special team to engage in these discussions. Our intention is to allow opportunities for AP to contest within the coalition with, of course, consideration to other member parties,” PPM Parliamentary Group Deputy Leader Moosa Zameer told local media.
Zameer stated that while an agreement could not be reached in regard to the local council elections – owing to its immensity – he remains positive that a mutual agreement can be reached in relation to the parliamentary elections.
Speaking at a rally in Dhaalu atoll on Sunday, President Abdulla Yameen called on AP to raise national above personal interest.
“Adhaalath Party has now decided to leave the coalition and contest individually in the upcoming elections. However, we must not allow space for disintegration and creation of factions within the coalition as a result of this,” Yameen said then.
He stated that Adhaalath’s decision would lead to votes being split between the coalition parties and would facilitate opposition parties in winning seats.
“Things don’t end just by getting elected to run a government. We come to power to serve the people. For that, it is vital to get the cooperation of councils and the parliament,” Yameen said, adding it will be impossible to reach goals without the support of these institutions.
“Despite coming to government with numerous pledges, it is reasons like this that inhibit a government from fulfilling its promises. This is what citizens must think about. You elected me to accomplish certain things for the citizens. For me to able to complete this, you citizens must ensure that you elect the cooperation that I require, that you give me the empowerment that I need,” Yameen stated.
Yameen called on the AP to extend cooperation to the coalition during the upcoming elections similar to their support during the past presidential elections.