Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim has called on his supporters to vote for Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen in Saturday’s run-off polls, claiming this would protect the country’s independence, sovereignty, and Islamic faith.
Speaking at a press conference last night with the PPM candidate and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom following the JP council’s decision to endorse Yameen, Gasim said there was no need for much campaigning as “right and wrong” would be clear to the public.
The JP followed the “same principles” as 2008 when it decided to back the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate against the incumbent based on similarities between the party’s manifestos, Gasim said, while the JP and PPM policies shared more in common in 2013.
“We have to undertake efforts [to overcome] the challenges faced by police, military and the judiciary, to save them from undeserved allegations made against them by certain groups, to maintain the independence of this Ummah [Islamic community] and nation, and for the protection of our religion and motherland,” Gasim said.
The business tycoon urged citizens to vote for Yameen “for the safety of the Ummah and its future”.
Gasim praised Gayoom as “the father of democracy” and expressed confidence that Yameen’s presidency would proceed under his guidance.
The JP presidential candidate finished third with 23.37 percent (48,131 votes) in the November 9 revote and announced the following day that the party’s council had decided not to back either candidate.
However, both the MDP and PPM sought Gasim’s endorsement this week. Following a meeting with former President Gayoom, Gasim told the press that he would ask the council to reconsider its decision, which voted yesterday to back the PPM candidate.
PPM candidate Yameen (29.73 percent) is due to face MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed (46.93 percent) in the run-off election on November 16.
Despite citing the protection of Islam and sovereignty as the reason for backing Yameen, Gasim had told the press following a meeting with MDP MPs Abdulla Shahid and Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday night that the MDP candidate had dispelled “doubts and suspicions concerning Islam.”
Nasheed had “cleared up misconceptions” concerning the MDP’s stance on religion, Gasim said.
Gasim had also said in a Television Maldives (TVM) programme on October 14 that a survey of his supporters showed that 60 percent would not vote for Yameen even if he endorsed the PPM candidate.
Islam and the nation
PPM President Gayoom meanwhile told the press that the choice on Saturday was between “the holy religion of Islam and the beloved Maldivian nation on the one hand and its opposite ways on the other.”
“The PPM’s motto is ‘Nation First’ so we want the Maldives to remain a 100 percent Muslim nation, for the country’s independence and sovereignty to be fully protected, for the citizens to have their rights, for a sound democracy to be established in the country and for the people to have social and economic development through it,” Gayoom said.
The introduction of other religions could lead to “loss of peace and security, bloodshed, division and discord,” he warned, adding that threats to the country’s sovereignty must also be avoided.
Saturday’s election would decide among the competing ideologies and set the course of the nation “for the next five years and beyond,” he added.
The PPM leader also expressed gratitude to President Dr Mohamed Waheed “for his sacrifice to the nation after making a very difficult decision” to stay in the post after November 11.
The decision was legal despite both domestic and international criticism, Gayoom said, contending that the Supreme Court ruling for the government to continue in a state of necessity was based on “a principle accepted by the world, a principle of international jurisprudence.”
Gayoom praised the Supreme Court Justices for “upholding the constitution” and displaying “courage and determination” in the face off “severe criticism and threats.”
Gayoom revealed that the PPM council gave him a mandate at an emergency meeting yesterday to negotiate a coalition agreement with the JP ahead of the second round.
While both Gayoom and Gasim had said that the JP decided to back PPM without any conditions or demands, newspaper Haveeru reported today that the PPM agreed to give a 33 percent stake in its government to the JP.
The PPM has also reportedly promised the Islamic Ministry and Education Ministry to the Adhaalath Party, while other parties such as coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance would have a stake in the coalition government.
Gayoom also revealed that the PPM and JP reached an understanding to contest the upcoming local council and parliamentary elections through a coalition.
PPM candidate Yameen meanwhile thanked Gasim for his “historic decision” and assured the JP leader that he would not regret the endorsement.
As all political parties except MDP were now behind PPM, Yameen expressed confidence of winning the election with 55 percent of the vote.
PPM vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said the party would form a national unity government that would not discriminate against citizens of different political ideologies.
Meanwhile, speaking in multiple campaign events in Male’ last night, former President Nasheed said the PPM would not have signed the voter lists if the JP decided to back his candidacy and expressed relief at having avoided forming a coalition.