Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen has been elected as the party’s presidential candidate to compete in the upcoming national elections.
The preliminary results of the PPM’s presidential primary reveal that Yameen won with a total of 13,096 votes, beating rival candidate Umar Naseer’s 7,450 votes – a 63 percent majority, according figures quoted by local media.
A total of 31,298 PPM members were eligible to vote in the party’s presidential primary through one of the 167 ballot boxes placed in 140 islands, Sun Online reported.
Umar Naseer accepted defeat: “If it’s a free and fair election, I will always accept the final result. I believe so far the election has been fair. As I said we will know how to proceed once we assess the complaints,” he told Haveeru.
“The party won’t be divided. I believe this will further strengthen the party as this exercise shows the strength of democracy within this party.”
Former President of the Maldives and PPM President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom congratulated his half-brother, Yameen, via Twitter following the announcement of the results.
Congratulations Yameen for winning our primary today! The whole party will be united behind you in the forthcoming presidential campaign. -M
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) March 30, 2013
Gayoom had urged party members to take part in Saturday’s election, despite not casting a vote himself in order to remain “neutral”.
To keep absolutely neutral in this primary I have decided not to cast my vote. I request all eligible PPM voters to cast their vote.-M — Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) March 30, 2013
During the voting period on Saturday (March 30), Yameen told local media that certain party members had been seen inside voting centres in Male’ using foul language in an attempt to start fights and create disorder.
Private media outlet Raajje TV captured a brief scuffle on camera between supporters of the two presidential primary candidates Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen.
Yameen told local media shortly after casting his vote outside the Aminiya School in Male’, that despite the minor conflicts, the party would not split.
“Overall, the voting is alright. But people from within the party have entered voting centres and have tried to start fights.
“They have raised they voices, used foul language, this should not happen in an internal election. It is very sad,” Yameen was quoted as saying in Sun Online.
On Friday (March 29), Yameen’s half brother, former President of the Maldives and PPM president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, called for PPM members to show the world what a “responsible party” the PPM is during Saturday’s primary.
Dear PPM members let us have a free, fair, transparent n peaceful primary tomorrow. Let us show the world what a responsible party we are.-M
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) March 29, 2013
The recent internal disorder among rival supporters follows a month of increasingly heated rhetoric between the two presidential candidates.
Earlier this month, Yameen responded to several accusations made against him, claiming the “stories” to be untrue.
“I have been accused of holding large sums of money in different accounts. I’m not responding to these allegations. But the people who work with me need public confidence.
“I want to say to you, that there are several allegations targeted at me. But those allegations are baseless and unfounded. None of those stories are true. Don’t believe them,” Yameen was quoted as saying in local media.
A spokesperson for Abdulla Yameen’s ‘Yageen’ campaign team told local media on March 23 that Umar Naseer had made slanderous and “blatantly untruthful” statements about Yameen during a recent rally.
Speaking at the aforementioned rally, Naseer claimed that Yameen’s campaign team is forced to play “80 percent in defence” in order to denounce the public’s claims against him.
“We heard our brother MP [Ahmed] Nihan speaking at Yameen’s campaign rally. All he did was try to denounce what the public says about Yameen,” Naseer said at a rally held on March 15.
“Nihan said that although people allege Yameen has ties with gangs and gang violence it is not true. He said that although people say Yameen bathes with mineral water, that isn’t true either.”
An MP is trying to frame me: Umar Naseer
Earlier in March, Naseer claimed that he had received “intel” that an attempt would be made to “assassinate” his character by planting illegal substances in his offices.
Following Naseer’s initial claims, he told supporters at a rally on March 15 that an MP involved in the illegal drug business was attempting to “frame him”.
“[The MP] tried to ruin my reputation by sending police to my business offices in the pretence of looking for illegal substances. I do not get involved in such acts.
“I will not name the MP, I do not need to name him here. He is trying to hide the relations he has with gangs and his involvement in the illegal drug business.”
On March 17, a police source told Minivan News that a bottle of alcohol had been found in a car belonging to Naseer’s wife when searched by police.
Despite Umar Naseer’s comments, former President Gayoom tweeted earlier this month that external influences were attempting to split Yameen and Umar apart.
“Some people from outside PPM are trying hard to drive a wedge between Yameen and Umar. All PPM members please be alert to this,” Gayoom tweeted.