MDP seeks candidate to contest Dhiggaru by-election

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is seeking a candidate to contest an upcoming by-election for the vacant Dhiggaru constituency parliament seat.

The opposition alliance, made up of the MDP, the Adhaalath Party (AP), and senior leaders of the Jumhooree Party, had previously said discussions were ongoing on fielding a single candidate.

“At the discussions, opposition parties agreed to bring forward one candidate. We also agreed that the candidate will come from the MDP,” said MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz.

The MDP announced yesterday that a primary will take place next Monday to select the party’s candidate and invited members to apply by Sunday.

The by-election, triggered by a 25-year jail sentence handed down to former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, is scheduled to take place on June 6.

Contestants must file candidacy papers at the Elections Commission before the end of April.

AP spokesperson Ali Zahir had previously expressed interest in contesting for the Dhiggaru seat.

However, AP secretary general Iaad Hameed told Minivan News today that the religious conservative party has not decided yet on fielding a candidate.

“We have also agreed on bringing one candidate from the opposition,” he said.

He stressed that Zahir had only expressed interest in contesting. Zahir is currently overseas and was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, a primary of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is due to take place tomorrow between former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s eldest son, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, and Meemu atoll council president Moosa Naseer.

Three other candidates who initially sought the ruling party’s ticket withdrew their candidacies this week, including Meemu atoll councillor Moosa Naseer Ahmed and deputy environment minister Mohamed Hanim.

Polling is due to take place from 2:00pm to 5:00pm on Friday in four of the five islands that make up the Dhiggaru parliamentary constituency.

The five islands in the constituency are Dhiggaru, Madduvari, Veyvah, Muli and Raimmandhoo. Arrangements have been made for party members from Raimmandhoo to vote in other islands.

The by-election is expected to be hotly contested amid heightened political tension following the jailing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as the alleged unfair targeting of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests.


PPM wins by-elections in Madduvari, Kondey

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won by-elections held yesterday for vacant seats on the Meemu Madduvari and Gaaf Alif Kondey island councils.

According to preliminary results from the Elections Commission, PPM candidate Muhthar Mohamed was elected to the Madduvari island council with 201 votes, while the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate received 198 votes.

On the island of Kondey, PPM candidate Abdulla Shihab emerged the victor with 116 votes, followed by the MDP candidate with 73 votes, and an independent candidate with 45 votes.


PPM, independent candidates claim island council by-election seats

The government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has claimed one of two vacant island council seats during by-elections held yesterday (January 26), according to local media.

Mohammed Abdul Samad claimed the vacant seat on Gadhdhoo Island Council with 879 votes for the PPM. Samad beat his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) by 58 votes, according to the Sun Online news service.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Hussain Shakir claimed the available seat on Kudahuvadhoo Island Council with 1087 votes. A rival MDP candidate received 870 votes in yesterday’s by-election, according to media reports.


PPM win island council seats in Vashafaru, Innamadhoo

The government-aligned Progressive Party of Malidves (PPM) won two by-elections held yesterday for vacant island council seats in Haa Alif Vashafaru and Raa Innamadhoo.

In Vashafaru, PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Hassan won with 251 votes against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Ahmed Mujathaba with 123 votes and Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Ibrahim Nadir with 53 votes.

In the island of Innamadhoo in Raa atoll, PPM candidate Ibrahim Nuhan won with 228 votes against MDP candidate Hussain Shafiu with 177 votes.

In the February 2011 local council elections, all five island council seats of Vashafaru were won by then-opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) with the first placed candidate receiving 300 votes.

The MDP candidate in sixth place received 175 votes.

In Innamadhoo meanwhile, two independent candidates and three MDP candidates were elected to the five-member island council. The third-placed MDP candidate received 194 votes.


PPM wins by-elections in Faafu, Meemu and Laamu atolls

Candidates from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have won all three by-elections held on Monday for vacant atoll and island council seats in Meemu Atoll Mulaku constituency, Faafu Atoll Bilehdhoo and Laamu Atoll Maabaidhoo.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC), PPM candidate Ali Ibrahim won the contest for the vacant Meemu Mulaku constituency atoll council seat with 677 votes (50.45 percent) against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Ibrahim Latheef with 478 votes (35.6 percent).

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) candidate Adam Hassan was placed third with 187 votes (13.93 percent).

In the February 2011 local council elections – which took place before the PPM was formed by the breakaway ‘Zaeem’ faction of the DRP – the then-opposition candidates Yousuf Sidqee and Zahira Mohamed from the DRP along with Ahmed Sulaiman from the People’s Alliance (PA) won the three atoll council seats for the Mulaku constituency with 949 votes, 736 votes and 855 votes respectively.

The fifth placed MDP candidate Mohamed Adil received 711 votes.

In May 2009, then-PA Leader Abdulla Yameen secured the Mulaku constituency parliamentary seat with 856 votes (45 percent).

Meanwhile, in Laamu Maabaidhoo, PPM candidate Hassan Adil won the vacant island council seat yesterday with 198 votes (43.52 percent) against Abdul Rasheed from the MDP who got 168 votes (36.92 percent) and Independent candidate Ahmed Shujau in third place with 89 votes (19.57 percent).

In February 2011, the five seats of the Maabaidhoo island council were won by two independent candidates and three DRP candidates.

While independent candidate Mariyam Didi came first with 283 votes, MDP candidate Ali Rasheed in 15th place received 81 votes.

The constituency including Maabadhoo was won by the PA in the parliamentary election. The then-minority opposition contested the parliamentary elections in a formal coalition with the DRP.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Shareef Idrees – who is a member of PPM – won yesterday’s by-election for a vacant seat in the Faafu Bilehdhoo island council with 342 votes (53.44 percent) against MDP candidate Ramzeena Afeef who got 298 votes (46.56 percent).

Four independent candidates and one MDP candidate were elected to the Bilehdhoo island council in February 2011.

In February 2011, the highest placed independent candidate Ali Saleem was elected with 390 votes while fifth placed MDP candidate Imran Rasheed received 309 votes.

In a by-election in November 2011 for a vacant atoll council seat for the Bilehdhoo constituency, MDP candidate Ibrahim Naeem came on top with 674 votes (53 percent) against Jumhoree Party contender Mohamed Musthafa, placed second with 539 votes (42 percent).

The former ruling party had won all three atoll council seats from the Bilehdhoo constituency in February 2011.

Moreover, MDP MP Ahmed Hamza represents the Bilehdhoo constituency in parliament.

Following yesterday’s results, PPM Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Mahloof noted that the party has won nine out of 12 by-elections held since its inception in October 2011.

Meanwhile, a by-election scheduled for Monday to elect a candidate for a vacant seat in the Alif Dhaal Dhidhoo island council was decided without a vote after only the Jumhoree Party (JP) fielded a candidate. The EC announced on October 1 that JP candidate Ahmed Niyaz had won the seat by default.


The turn-out in all three by-elections on Monday was relatively low compared to previous elections, with 55 percent in Mulaku, 82 percent in Bilehdhoo and 79 percent in Maabadhoo.

Of 2,441 eligible voters in the Mulaku constituency, 1,360 cast their ballots (18 were declared invalid).

In the island of Maabaidhoo in Laamu Atoll, 462 voters out of 661 eligible voters participated in the by-election. Seven votes were declared invalid.

In Bilehdhoo, out of 784 eligible voters, 650 citizens cast their ballots with ten declared invalid.


MDP, PPM campaigning ahead of Monday’s by-elections

Former President Mohamed Nasheed visited Faaf Bilehdhoo yesterday (Saturday) to campaign for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate for a vacant seat in the Bilehdhoo island council, Ramzeena Afeef.

According to the former ruling party’s website, Nasheed met MDP members and supporters in the island before returning to Male’ last night.

MDP MPs Mohamed Gasam, Mohamed Shifaz and Ibrahim Rasheed are meanwhile campaigning in Meemu atoll for Ibrahim Latheef, MDP’s candidate for the Meemu Mulaku constituency atoll council seat.

Former President Nasheed visited islands in the Meemu Mulaku constituency last Tuesday to support Latheef’s candidacy.

In addition to the Mulaku and Bilehdhoo contests, by-elections are also due to take place on Monday, October 29, for a vacant island council seats each in Alif Dhaal Dhidhoo and Laamu Maibaidhoo.

Meanwhile, newspaper Haveeru reported today that a delegation from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) departed Male’ for Laamu Maibaidhoo and Meemu Mulaku to campaign for the party’s candidates Hassan Adil and Ali Ibrahim.

The delegation includes PPM Parliamentary Group Leader and MP for Meemu Mulaku, Abdulla Yameen, and interim Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla as well as other PPM MPs.


Former President Nasheed tours Meemu Atoll for by-election campaign

Former President Mohamed Nasheed is currently touring islands of Meemu Atoll to campaign for Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Ibrahim Latheef in the upcoming by-election on October 29 for the Meemu Mulaku constituency atoll council seat.

Nasheed departed Male’ yesterday following a High Court hearing in the afternoon and spoke at a rally at Mulaku last night.

According to MDP social media updates, the former President visited Meemu Naalafushi and Kolhufushi this morning and received a warm welcome from islanders.

In addition to the Mulaku contest, by-elections will also take place on October 29 for vacant island council seats in Alif Dhaal Dhidhoo, Laamu Maibaidhoo and Faafu Bilehdhoo.


JP, MDP share spoils of island council by-elections

Candidates of the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) won by-elections yesterday for vacant seats in the island councils of Alif Dhaal Hagnameedhoo and Alif Alif Mathiveri.

JP and MDP candidates went head to head in both by-elections, which were not contested by other parties or independent candidates. While MDP candidate Ahmed Firaq won in Hagnameedhoo, JP candidate Ali Riza Mohamed emerged victorious in Mathiveri.

In Hagnameedhoo, Firaq won with 190 votes (52 percent) against JP contender Ibrahim Naseer Adam, who received 178 votes (48 percent).

JP’s Riza meanwhile won the Mathiveri council seat with 250 votes (54 percent) while MDP candidate Ali Risham came second with 212 votes (46 percent).

Following the victories, leaders of both parties congratulated the winning candidates. JP President Dr Ibrahim Didi expressed confidence in winning future elections and praised the party’s “strong” leadership as the main reason for the success.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik congratulated MDP’s winning candidate Firaq and expressed gratitude to Hagnaameedhoo islanders as well as the party members who worked in the campaign.

Yesterday’s result showed that “the people of Hagnameedhoo are opposed to the coup, have political foresight and make decisions wisely,” the Hulhu-Henveiru MP said.

Noting that MDP only received nine votes from Hagnameedhoo in the first round of the presidential election in 2008, Moosa said yesterday’s results represented the party’s growing strength and support.

The Mathiveri island council seat was vacated in November 2011 after a councillor elected on a Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) ticket quit the party. Under the Decentralisation Act, councillors who leave their party are stripped of their seats. The Hagnameedhoo seat was vacated after a councillor resigned due to poor health.

In the February 2011 council elections, four independent candidates and one JP candidate were elected for the five-member Hagnameedhoo island council while four DRP candidates and one MDP candidate were elected to the Mathiveri island council.


Mixed political responses as PPM becomes minority party in Majlis

Ahmed Shareef of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM ) was sworn in as MP for Thimarafushi on Wednesday, enabling former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s party to achieve official recognition in the 77 seat parliament as the minority leadership.

Since its formation as a party in October 2011, PPM MPs have been required to stand as independent members in the Majlis chamber.

This requirement is based on parliament regulations that refuses a political party official representation in the People’s Majlis until one of its members contests and wins an election. PPM MPs had been previously elected to their respective seats in 2009 under a Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) ticket.

Following the oath-taking ceremony yesterday, Shareef attended his first parliamentary session as an MP to speak on the amendment proposed to the Decentralisation Act.

Shareef won the Thimarafushi seat in a by-election this weekend against Mohamed Musthafa, a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member who had previously held the seat. Musthafa was disqualified by the Supreme Court in February over decreed debt.

Jumhoory Party (JP) Deputy Leader Abdullah Jabir, who had won the Kashidhoo constituency’s by-election is expected to be sworn in today, raising the number of JP representatives in the parliament
to three.

Local media has reported that 44 MPs representing the PPM, DRP, JP and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), alongside several independent members, have now pledged allegiance to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s national unity government.

PPM representation

The DRP was the first official party registered by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom before he announced his resignation from politics in February 2010. After his resignation, Gayoom became the party’s “honorary leader”.

However, Gayoom last year became increasingly politically active and later fell out with his anointed replacement, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali in a public war of words.

This dispute led the former president to form the PPM after an acrimonious split. Several then-DRP MPs loyal to Gayoom and his half brother Abdullah Yameen’s People’s Alliance (PA) party then joined the PPM.

While Shareef’s victory has enabled the PPM to achieve official representation in the People’s Majlis, the party also stands to gain the minority leadership in parliament with a total of 17 members.

The DRP, which formerly held the minority leadership position, presently holds 15 MPs, while the now opposition MDP holds the majority party status with a 32 member parliamentary group.

In this environment, PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen contended that the party would become the largest in the country. Yameen has said that “any seats that become vacant in the parliament will be won by PPM hereafter”.

“PPM will become the leading party in working for the people’s right without any personal agenda,” he claimed in a rally held Sunday on Guraidhoo Island to celebrate PPM’s by-election victory.

DRP response

Deputy Leader of the DRP parliamentary group, Dr. Abdullah Mausoom meanwhile has told Minivan News that the party welcomed the PPM’s entry as an official party into parliament, adding that its promotion to minority party leadership did not “bother” DRP members.

Parliament’s current minority leader is Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, but once the change is finalised, Yameen said is expected to take the position.

“We do note work in the parliament, debate or vote based on minority or majority party. We prioritize people and nation’s interests,” Mausoom observed.

He further claimed that there was now a great opportunity to “enrich parliament’s debates through a variety of arguments and dimensions.”

While the DRP stands to lose its minority leadership, the MDP is meanwhile pushing for a no confidence motion against Speaker Abdullah Shahid, a DRP MP.

However, Mausoom insists that the vote will not succeed, adding that the MDP was “mistaken to think” that they will secure enough votes to remove Shahid.

PPM’s spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof meanwhile has been reported as saying in the local media that he would “like very much to vote against Shahid”.

However, Mahloof stressed that the PPM would decide what action should be taken against the speaker through a parliamentary group meeting.  The PPM spokesperson said there were important issues to be addressed in relation to Shahid’s position. Mahloof  alleged additionally that the motion was an attempt by the MDP to fragment the pro-government coalition in which DRP and PPM members are at the forefront.  Several of the parties’ MPs currently serve as cabinet ministers.

Shahid has been target of no-confidence motions over the years, as various political parties have accused him of favouring other sides in the country’s highly partisan parliament.

“Witch hunt”

MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News that the party accepted the “PPM as the new political reality” after years of facing the DRP as its major parliamentary opponent.

However, he noted that the PPM’s road to official representation in parliament and obtaining the minority leadership has been “aided through the February 7 coup.”  The MDP continues to allege that former President Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign “under duress” on February 7.

Ghafoor claimed that the MDP was concerned that the “current government is on a political realignment witch hunt against its MPs to force them to cross party lines.”

“As you know there are MP’s with skeletons in their closets. These MPs will be the first to realign and we are already witnessing some two to three members within the MDP flirting with crossing party lines. They are not saying they will resign. But as you can see they are attending government ceremonies and showing support,” Ghafoor explained.

Ghafoor speculated that the country was witnessing a significant “political realignment”.

“We are seeing the tip of it. If it [new government] is allowed to entrench for longer, MDP will lose several political gains,” he said.

“The MDP government’s democratic reforms to decentralisation and social protection policies all are under attack and the country will fall back from the centre right policy into the elements of the old dictatorial regime.”