President’s coalition expects to be joined by the Jumhoree Party ahead of election

A coalition of political parties backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed in September’s election has expressed confidence it will be joined by the government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) – despite no official talks having taken place as yet.

Abdulla Yazeed, a spokesperson on the media team of President Waheed’s ‘forward with the nation’ coalition, said the group would continue to welcome other political parties to join its existing members, but denied any such talks were presently being held.

“Our plan is to have a very large coalition backing President Waheed,” he said.

However, JP MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla today said that while no decision would be taken on whether to join President Waheed’s coalition before its national congress scheduled for later this month, the party anticipated fielding its own candidate during the election.

“What I will say is that our articles and regulations state that our leader has to run as a presidential candidate. We have to run for the seat on our own,” he said.

Raheem added that the party did nonetheless have criteria under which it would look to join a coalition.

“We have done this before. In 2008, we stood alongside the Adhaalath Party,” he said.

However, Raheem said that while the JP was presently a member of President Waheed’s coalition government, it would not advocate for him during September’s election, citing concerns that he had agreed upon assuming office in February 2012 that he would not seek to stay in power.

He also questioned the legitimacy of the president’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) and whether it had officially obtained 10,000 members that is required to be registered as an official party under contested legislation passed this year.

“Right now, our party has more than 10,000 members and is a legitimate party,” Raheem added.

Party lines

At present, the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) are the only two parties to have announced their intention to field individual candidates against President Waheed’s coalition during Septembers election.

Both parties have recently dismissed the viability of forming coalitions in the Maldives based on past experiences in the country, claiming that the vast majority of the country’s electorate where divided between their two competing ideologies.

Coalition Media Team Spokesperson Yazeed said today that group of parties backing President Waheed, which had not yet declared their values and full campaign manifesto, would still seek to expand support before voting begins.

With the election scheduled for September 7, Yazeed said that while the MDP and PPM were already campaigning around various islands, the coalition remained confident there was sufficient time to inform the public of its message going forward.

“This will be a very tight campaign, but we are already planning on having teams simultaneously planning to visit islands,” he said.

Earlier this week, President Waheed pledged to establish a housing policy for the people of Male’ as part of his bid to secure election in the upcoming presidential elections.

Yazeed’s comments were made after President Dr Waheed’s Special Advisor Dr Hassan Saeed was quoted in local media yesterday (June 10) as claiming that a single candidate or party such as the government-aligned JP would not alone be able to manage to run the country ahead of this year’s election.

He reportedly told a crowd gathered on the island of Naifaru in Lhaviyani Atoll that the JP and its leader Gasim Ibrahim did not presently have a team of other parties backing him during September’s voting, limiting his ability within the country’s political arena.

Saeed is the leader of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), one of three parties within the present government coalition along with Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the the religious conservative Adhaalath Party to have so far backed President Waheed and his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) in the election.

He also yesterday criticised President Waheed’s direct election rivals, claiming the country – despite its current financial challenges – faced being set back by three years in the past under an MDP government or 30 years should the public elect the PPM.

However, following yesterday’s announcement that DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali would be standing as President Waheed’s running mate in the election, political rivals claimed the decision would have little impact on their own campaigns.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said that Thasmeen’s appointment as Dr Waheed’s running mate was not seen as a concern by the party and would actually serve as a positive development for its own election campaign.

“He is the weakest link among all the wannabe leaders at present,” Nihan said after the announcement.

Nihan said that the party would therefore carry on with it plans to begin campaigning in the north of the country ahead of September’s election.  “This is the very least of our concerns as a party,” he said.

Nihan nonetheless said that the party continued to remain concerned at what it alleged was President Waheed’s continued use of state funds and resources to support campaigning for the coalition.

“This is our one crucial concern. President Waheed needs to facilitate a free and fair election, but he has today used government speedboats to transport coalition members. This should not be seen n a democratic society,” he said.

Meanwhile, MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed contended during an interview with state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) on May 16 that President Waheed and the DRP has been forced to form a coalition out of necessity.

Nasheed therefore questioned the president’s coalition’s claims that it presented a “third way” for voters as opposed to the policies of the MDP and PPM. Nasheed reiterated his belief that power-sharing coalitions were not compatible with the Maldives’ presidential system of government.