Members of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in Laamu Atoll, Maavah constituency, held a protest on Friday over the party’s alleged decision to grant the ticket to incumbent MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abu Bakr without a primary.
Azeez, however, has said the PPM is still in discussions over candidates for the primary and that he has not yet been granted the PPM ticket.
The Maavah constituency consists of Maavah, Hithadhoo and Kunahandhoo constituencies in Laamu Atoll. Protests were held only in Kunahandhoo Island.
Speaking to Minivan News, PPM member Simad Adam said an estimated 240 members took part in Friday’s protest.
“Azeez is very close to President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and we have heard they are handing him the party ticket on a tray,” he said.
Simad claimed Azeez had pledged to work closely with constituents during the 2009 parliamentary elections, but upon election he stopped answering phone calls and refused to see constituents when they visited him.
“The party’s constitution says primaries must be held. There are others who want to contest the seat. We are just asking for a primary. If Azeez wins the primary, we will support him regardless of any issues we may have with him,” he said.
Pictures of the protest show complainants holding signs calling on the party to implement democratic principles and hold primaries.
Azeez dismissed the protests as a ploy to get him to buy off contestants.
“I am ready to contest. I will not be angry if I do not win. I will accept it as the PPM member’s decision,” he said.
According to Simad, Judge Mujuthaz Fahmy’s son – Azhan Fahmy – will be standing against Azeez.
The governing coalition – which also includes the Jumhooree Party (JP), and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – reached a deal last week on reserving a set number of seats for each party.
Of the 85 seats, PPM will contest 49, JP will contest 28, and the MDA will contest 8 seats.
The PPM is to hold primaries on February 4. All 150 candidates who applied for the 49 seats will go through a screening process where they will be evaluated and graded on the extent to which candidates uphold the party ideology, on their length of time as a party member, experience in the parliament, participation in campaigning for the presidential candidate, and service to the party.
Applicants who do not receive 75 percent will be disqualified from the primaries.
Simad said that Kunahandhoo residents will hold pro-longed protests and if the party leadership does not respond to their demands, party members will boycott the parliamentary elections and any internal party vote.
Meanwhile, members of JP have also spoken out against the party’s decision to grant the ticket to eight incumbent MPs and former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz without a primary.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held primaries for 56 seats this weekend after a first attempt on January 24 was called off due to poor organisation and voter registry issues.
The Elections Commission has announced it will be accepting applications for the People’s Majlis elections between January 29 and February 11.