Pressure is growing in the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) for its council to decide whether to continue backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government ahead of September’s presidential election, a party official told Minivan News.
PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said the party has grown increasingly concerned at what it believed were “deliberate” attempts by President Waheed to try and discredit the party and its members to boost his own election campaign.
Nihan said that once senior party officials returned from campaigning this week in Shaviyani Atoll, he expected the PPM council would need to hold discussions on whether to remain in the current coalition government.
The ‘forward with the nation’ coalition backing Waheed dismissed the notion of a split within the government before voting begins, claiming that all parties were expected to stick with the present administration until September’s vote.
However, Nihan said despite the dismissal of several high-profile PPM members from Waheed’s government over the last week, the president had not attempted to make a single call to the party’s presidential candidate, MP Abdulla Yameen.
“We are a government stakeholder, yet not a single call has been made [by President Waheed] to Yameen,” he claimed. “This is the level of how the government operates now.”
Nihan alleged that the government was being run as if it was solely operated by the president’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP), rather than a collection of different parties.
While not being able to speak for the PPM before an internal vote was taken, Nihan said party councillors and general members had continued to raise concerns about President Waheed’s conduct towards the party and its representatives in government.
He added that with PPM founder former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom expected to return from a visit to Malaysia around June 29, the issue of the party’s ongoing support for the current government would need to be discussed.
“I would hope a motion will be discussed concerning leaving the current government in the coming week after the campaign trips are over,” Nihan said.
“A lot of damage has been done, and there is a belief this has been masterminded by GIP loyalists to discredit the party in the outer islands. It has had the opposite effect though,” he added.
Nihan said a many concerns were raised by members of the perceived deliberate attempt to remove PPM representatives in the government “one by one”.
On Thursday (June 20), Sun Online reported that PPM member Abdullah Nashid was dismissed by the government over accusations he had been involved in corruption.
During the same week, the President’s Office announced it had dismissed Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal and Minister of State for Economic Development Abdulla Ameen from the government at the insistence of their former party, the DQP.
Former Deputy Minister Maleeh expressed his belief at the time that he had been fired because of his support for the presidential candidate of PPM, MP Abdulla Yameen.
On the back of the dismissals, the PPM told local media on June 20 that it would consider leaving the government should the party’s deputy leader and current Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb be fired from his post.
On Wednesday (June 19), Adheeb was accused of running his ministry in an “unacceptable” manner by Mariyam Mizna Shareef who announced her resignation as minister of state for tourism, arts and culture in protest.
Contacted by Minivan News after announcing her resignation, Mizna declined to discuss her position further, requesting to stay clear of the country’s political arena and media attention.
Nihan today accused Mizna, who is the daughter of DRP Spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef, of playing “political games” in what he said was a bid to launch unproven allegations against Minister Adheeb to discredit him.
“Adheeb is the elected deputy leader of our party and is also a great young politician in the country,” he said, “[Mizna] was given her position as a present from [DRP Leader] Ahmed Thasmeen Ali who campaigned to get her the position.”
Nihan alleged that Mizna’s father, Ibrahim Shareef was seeking to blame any negative coverage of the present administration as being the fault of the PPM, as part of President Waheed’s aim of removing its members from the government.
He also accused Shareef of questioning the need to retain the PPM within the present government ahead of elections.
Despite the PPM previously raising concerns over what it claimed was President Waheed’s use of state fund and resources to give his own party an unfair campaign advantage, party officials have maintained that they would remain in the coalition as part of what it claimed was attempt to run the nation in a stable manner.
Nihan said today that the party would continue to look at whether it was in the best interest of the Maldivian people for the party to remain in the present coalition, before any decisions were taken by party members and senior officials.
Despite the PPM’s decision to stand directly against Dr Waheed in the presidential election, Abdulla Yazeed, a spokesperson on the media team of the president’s ‘forward with the nation’ coalition, today dismissed the likelihood of the PPM prematurely leaving the present government.
Yazeed told Minivan News that he did not believe a split in the current administration was imminent, adding that all parties were committed to ensuring the state continued to run effectively ahead of the upcoming vote.
Contacted by Minivan News today, DRP Parliamentary Group Leader Dr Abdulla Mausoom refused to speculate on whether the PPM would remain as a member of the current government up to September’s election.
However, Dr Mausoom dismissed the threat to the coalition’s campaign from the PPM standing as an election rival, claiming the MDP was the only “reasonable competitor” that stood a chance of beating President Waheed’s coalition in September.
He claimed that the party was also confident that no single candidate would have sufficient electoral support to secure a first round election victory, that voters disenchanted with the MDP candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed’s three years in government would look to President Waheed as an alternative to previous administrations.
President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding to calls at time of press.
Of the parties presently part of the coalition government, the PPM announced it would be fielding its own presidential candidate to contest the election after MP Yameen was declared the winner of a primary election against rival Umar Naseer in March this year.
Fellow government-aligned parties including the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party have all pledged to back President Waheed and his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) in the election.
The government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) meanwhile said last week that it would not make a decision on whether to join President Waheed’s coalition before its national congress scheduled for later this month, despite anticipating that it will field its own candidate – expected to be party founder and leader Gasim Ibrahim.