JP open to negotiations with PPM, says Gasim

The Jumhooree Party (JP) is open to discussions with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) as the party does not believe the coalition agreement has been terminated, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim has said.

Speaking at a press conference at the JP headquarters in Malé yesterday (June 17), Gasim said he was pleased that President Abdulla Yameen had said that the parties could discuss problems with the coalition agreement, adding that the JP was ready to join discussions at a time and place of the PPM’s choosing.

“We are ready to go forward in the best interest’s of the nation’s peace and stability,” the business tycoon said.

Unlike other political arrangements, Gasim stressed that the coalition agreement between the parties was signed in the presence of witnesses with the signatories swearing by God to uphold the agreement.

“How can it be said that such an agreement has been dissolved without any just reason? I am certainly frightened that they decided that such an agreement has been dissolved,” the MP for Maamigili said, adding that he feared the “wrath of God” as a result of the PPM’s actions, which would affect “innocent people” as well.

He noted that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had signed the agreement on behalf of the PPM in his capacity as the party’s leader.

Gasim said that the JP has yet to be officially notified in writing of the termination of the coalition agreement.

The PPM had announced in a press statement that the party’s council decided unanimously on May 26 that the agreement “has been brought to an end by the Jumhooree Party as of today” after Gasim contested for the post of Majlis speaker.

Holding up the agreement and reading out clauses at the press conference, Gasim said that the PPM had so far not been able to explain which part of the agreement that the JP breached.

Gasim also contended that the PPM had violated the agreement by failing to either consult the coalition partner before nominating individuals to independent institutions – such as President Yameen’s nephew Maumoon Hameed for prosecutor general – or provide 33 percent of political posts in the executive as stipulated in the agreement.

Campaign trail

After initially announcing that the party would remain neutral, the JP’s council decided to endorse Yameen three days before the second round of the presidential polls on November 16 after JP candidate Gasim finished in third place in the first round with 23.37 percent of the vote.

Gasim claimed yesterday that he had spent MVR20 million on Yameen’s campaign ahead of the run-off polls on November 16 as the coalition agreement stated that the parties should support each other.

Gasim said he gave part of the money at the request of Yameen and his running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed while the rest was spent for JP members to visit islands on campaign trips.

Moreover, Gasim claimed to have spent a further MVR20 million for the PPM during the parliamentary election campaign.

“I sent an amount no less than MVR20 million to President Maumoon and President Yameen,” he said.

Of the coalition candidates to whom Gasim provided financial assistance, the JP leader said former MP for Kinbidhoo, Moosa Zameer, was the only PPM candidate to have lost.

Gasim went on to criticise the two JP MPs  – Milandhoo MP Hassan Mufeed Abdul Gadhir and Nolhivaram MP Hussain Afeef – who signed for the ruling party this week, noting that the pair had signed an agreement under oath to remain in the JP until the end of their five-year terms.

He noted that members of coalition partners switching parties was a violation of the agreement.

Gasim said he had heard that the pair were given MVR10 million each to switch allegiances as well as suggesting that the MPs had told him the government had threatened to cease development projects in their constituencies.

Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim and Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed had also told the JP leader that they decided to sign for PPM as they could not continue their work without doing so, Gasim said.

JP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed meanwhile argued that the ministers should have resigned from the cabinet before signing for the ruling party as the pair had been appointed to JP slots.


Environment Minister Thoriq signs for PPM

Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim signed for the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) today.

Thoriq had been filling a slot assigned for the Jumhooree Party (JP) under the coalition agreement formed with the PPM during last year’s presidential election.

Following the dissolution of the coalition agreement between the JP and PPM last week, nine political appointees belonging to the JP – including Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim – were dismissed by President Abdulla Yameen, prompting speculation in the media that the three ministers remaining in JP slots would join the ruling party to retain their posts.

Speaking to press after signing his membership form at a ceremony in Muleeage this afternoon, Thoriq said he decided to sign for the PPM to complete the work begun by his ministry after the current administration took office in November last year.

The environment minister assured the public that he would “sincerely” remain behind President Yameen for the next five years and endeavour to develop the country.

Thoriq also denied coming under “any kind of pressure” to sign for the ruling party in the wake of the coalition’s breakup.

In his remarks at the ceremony, President Abdulla Yameen meanwhile praised Thoriq as an “active” and “resourceful person,” welcoming the minister to the party on behalf of PPM Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the party’s council, parliamentary group and members.

“Welcome to the team. God willing, we are beginning a long-haul journey so welcome aboard,” he said.

Aside from Thoriq, Home Minister Umar Naseer and Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed were also appointed to the cabinet as JP political appointees. The pair have however yet to sign for the PPM.

The PPM severed its coalition agreement with the JP following a dispute over the speaker’s post, which was contested by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim after President Yameen urged the business tycoon to withdraw his candidacy and support a PPM candidate.

President Yameen however told reporters on Sunday (June 1) that the PPM was still willing to work with the former coalition partner and professed “respect” for Gasim.

Yameen noted that three cabinet ministers as well as board members of state-owned enterprises occupying JP slots remained in the government.

He also denied pressuring the JP members to sign for the ruling party to retain their government jobs, adding that it was “up to them to decide” how best to serve the nation.