The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Sunday night held the first political gathering since the election to rally its supporters, ahead of the upcoming run-off election on September 28.
Thousands of people attended the rally near the tsunami monument in Male. The MDP had confidently predicted a first round victory on Saturday, campaigning to the slogan ‘Ehburun’ (one round), but a split vote between three rival parties left the party just 4.55 percent short of the goal.
“I assure all of you that this man – myself – is not a person who will run out of options. This man, God willing, is not someone who will get tired. This man is not someone who will step back. We will go forward, forward, swiftly forward. God willing, we will win this election,” Nasheed said, beginning his address.
“We very clearly know the political realities of this country, and the hopes and sentiments of the citizens. The people have once again said a loud, resounding “no” to those who had led the long 30 year rule (of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom),” he said.
“Even back in 2008, people said a loud ‘no’ to them. However, they were behind a coup d’état which ruined our Maldives. Everyone in this country has no doubt today that the people have said no to that dirty and foul act. The people want an MDP government, the people want development,” Nasheed continued.
“The people do not want to relive the experience of PPM’s 30 year rule. The people do not want torture in the jails. The people do not want religious scholars to be put under arrest. The people do not want to be banished or jailed for long periods, under article 38 [of the penal code], as a result of a word they may utter or a gesture they may make. The people do not want President Maumoon,” Nasheed said.
“The people do not want PPM. The people do not want Abdulla Yameen. The PPM is a party of 50,000 votes. They can continue to remain that way.”
“In the interests of their party, they may hold discussions with other politicians. But as I see it, the tails will be knotted amongst themselves. It will not be an alliance made among the citizens. The citizens are allied with the citizens. MDP is allied with the citizens. God willing, we will win this election for you,” Nasheed continued.
“God willing, they cannot topple this man again. Even if they do, God willing, we will get up again even more quickly. We will get up and sprint forward. God willing, we will complete this race,” he asserted.
“Do not get worried. Do not be anxious. Take a seat. Be comfortable. We will smoothly take this ship and moor it at peaceful shores. We can do this. We can easily win this election, and today the whole of the country knows this.”
Nasheed further stated that the party’s competitors, and friends who did not vote for the party, had not thought that the party could “gather such an overwhelming majority”, saying the results had left them astounded.
“They could not sleep last night, nor will they be able to sleep tonight. We will go ahead to win this election.”
“The people have seen how the 30 year regime was led. The people have seen the complete life of the candidate competing against me. You’ve also seen my life. Now you can weigh them, measure them against each other, and evaluate them. All of you gathered here, and all citizens, very clearly know what the people will decide. The decision of 95,000 citizens, this was not a mistake.”
“It was because of of ‘baaghee’ [traitor] Mohamed Waheed that we could not complete our five year term in government. What we faced last night was also because of this baaghee, Mohamed Waheed. God willing, now we are free of him. There is nowhere to go with the 10,000 votes he was able toget,” Nasheed said of his former Vice President and incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
Nasheed also alleged that people from the PPM and Jumhoree Alliance were approaching MDP campaign managers in various islands, and himself, and expressing an interest in working together for the second round. He stated that these included former ministers who had served in Gayoom’s cabinet.
“The people do not want to crawl into an oil well, they want a roof over their heads. The people want to be able to get medical assistance when needed. To be able to educate their children in their islands. When boredom sets in, to have options of ridding themselves of it, to have options for their children to engage in exercise and physical activities,” he stated. “This vision is to be seen in the MDP manifesto.”
“The people do not want a government filled with nepotism. They do not want the leader’s wife or her family to continuously interfere and influence the government’s activities,” Nasheed said, continuing to criticise his opponents.
“The biggest challenge that Gayoom faced in his long 30 years is that he had to maintain a family-led government. He just was never able to move out of that. The people of the Maldives felt the bitterness of this. The people understand the benefits of having freedom of expression, freedom of assemblyand the freedom to carry out peaceful political activity. [They understand] the quite fond hope that this country is getting because of this system – that we can develop, that this country is rich in natural resources and that we do not have to live isolated and impoverished is very much clear to the people of this country.” he said.
“I assure the Maldivian people that, God willing, I will not go home without winning this election. This man will not get tired. This man will not step back. We will go forward, forward, swiftly forward,” Nasheed said, concluding his speech.
In addition to MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed, Chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and a number of MPs spoke at the rally.
The MDP won the most number of votes, winning 45.45 percent in an election with 88.44 percent voter turnout. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) will be contesting in the second round – scheduled for September 28 – having won 25.35 percent of the votes.
The Jumhoree coalition’s candidate Gasim Ibrahim came third with 24.07 percent, with incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan receiving just 5.13 percent of the votes.