Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said that “youth” and the “economy” will be the key focus of his campaign to stand as presidential candidate for his party in general elections scheduled for next year.
Yameen, half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, told Minivan News today that as he prepared to launch his campaign for the PPM Presidential Primary – expected to be held early next year – no decision was as yet taken on a potential running mate should he win.
“There is still time for that. All will be done in good time,” he said via SMS, without elaborating further on his presidential aspirations.
Yameen also did not comment on whether he would continue to contest in the primaries in the event former President Gayoom also opted to stand.
The presidential Primary of the PPM is scheduled to take place after its long-delayed national congress, which is presently scheduled between January 17 to January 19, 2013.
Yameen’s comments were made as PPM Interim Vice President Umar Naseer was reported in local media as yesterday (December 22) holding his own ceremony to try to recruit 300 volunteers from the party’s 17,900 strong membership to assist with his own primary campaign.
Local newspaper Haveeru quoted Umar as claiming that some 250 volunteers signed up for his campaign last night.
“Last night, I actually didn’t inform my full support base. Last night we only carried out the process of recruiting volunteers, identifying what they can do, signing and filling of cards,” he was quoted as saying.
Local media also reported Umar as opting to use a “palm logo” previously adopted by former President Gayoom – interim PPM President – for his campaigning.
“Even if the palm did not win back then, Insha Allah this time it will,” he was reported to have told Haveeru.
Umar was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.
Earlier this month, Umar claimed that he and MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom were seen as the most likely candidates to contest the PPM’s primary elections scheduled for February 2013, following the party’s upcoming congress.
However, other key figures have yet to rule themselves out of the running, most notably former president Gayoom himself, who told Indian newspaper The Hindu on December 11 that he may consider contesting in a presidential election presently expected to be held in August or September next year.
“Things change very frequently. So I am keeping my options open,” Gayoom was quoted as saying. “[If I run] it won’t be out of my choice, if ever, it will be out of compulsion. Because I feel I have served the country for 30 years and I feel it is up to other people [now].”
Speaking to local media at the time, Umar Naseer said that Gayoom had the right to contest for re-election in the next presidential elections – a decision he believed would make the country’s former autocratic ruler the “obvious top candidate” to finish the race.
“I would definitely back Gayoom if he is to contest the elections. He is our ‘ace of spades’. You cannot say that the ace of spades is not the ace of spades,” he said.
Despite his current support, Umar Naseer, in an interview with Al Jazeera in November 2007 alongside (now) former President Mohamed Nasheed and then-Information Minister Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, stated that Gayoom had “failed” in running the country and urged him to step down.
“The best thing for the Maldives at the moment is for Mr Gayoom to step down,” Naseer said. “He has failed in all areas. As far as education is concerned, he has failed. Security he has failed. Corruption, he has failed. All these areas, he has failed. He must step down,” Naseer said, speaking then as President of his own Islamic Democratic Party (IDP).
Beyond Gayoom, local media and senior politicians have previously speculated that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan could also be a potential PPM candidate to stand in next year’s general elections.
However, Gayoom, in his most recent interview with the Hindu newspaper, suggested that such a development could only happen if the president joined his party.
Gayoom has previously welcomed the prospect of President Waheed competing in a primary for the party’s ticket.
“The president, or anyone else, can join PPM if they want, and if they win the [party’s] primary, they will become our presidential candidate,” he said at the time.