Constituencies represented by ruling coalition MPs will be prioritised for development projects in the state budget for 2016, President Abdulla Yameen has said.
During a visit to Meemu Atoll Dhiggaru to campaign for the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate, Yameen yesterday urged Dhiggaru constituents to vote for Ahmed Faris Maumoon to ensure development.
“If you do this, no doubt when the budget comes, under the principle where constituencies with our members are prioritised now, this constituency will be noted very early on,” he said.
The by-election is scheduled for Saturday, June 6.
The PPM and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) controls a comfortable majority of the 85-house.
The rhetoric of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is unimportant for Dhiggaru constituents, Yameen said.
The MDP, the Adhaalath Party and members of the Jumhooree Party have been protesting for three months over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.
Yameen said Dhiggaru constituents wanted a seawall, new classrooms, and a school hall.
“[A] 140 kilowatt generator to ease the electricity problem in this island before Ramadan will be important for the people of this island,” he said.
The generator will arrive before Ramadan, and projects to establish water and sewerage systems in Dhiggaru will begin early next year.
An outer wall for the Dhiggaru football field will also be built in two months and a futsal pitch will be built during the year, he pledged.
President Yameen’s pledges follow PPM MPs assuring development of the five islands in the Dhiggaru constituency if Faris wins the by-election, prompting allegations of undue influence and bribery.
The PPM was previously accused of bribery over the delivery of an x-ray machine to Muli last month.
The government has also signed an agreement with the state-owned Maldives Transport and Construction Company to build a harbour in Dhiggaru.
The ruling party was also accused of vote buying after handing over air-conditioners to a school in Raa Atoll Alifushi, shortly before an island council by-election.
The government’s efforts to develop the Dhiggaru constituency will speed up and be made easier if Faris is elected, Yameen continued, as he would have the president’s ear and be able to share the concerns of his constituents.
In contrast, Yameen said, MDP MPs voted against the 2015 budget and had “hijacked” parliament since March to “obstruct” proceedings.
He also accused opposition-dominated island councils of refusing to allocate land to develop futsal pitches, stressing the importance of electing PPM councillors and lawmakers for cooperation with the government.
Faris is the president’s nephew and eldest son of PPM leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He will be facing MDP candidate Ahmed Razee and independent candidate Moosa Naseer Ahmed in the June 6 poll.
Dhiggaru is a PPM stronghold and a support base of the former president.
The by-election was triggered by the jailing of former MP Ahmed Nazim, also a PPM member. He was convicted of defrauding the former atolls ministry and imprisoned for life.
Yameen said Nazim had “sincerely served” the party and the PPM wished to keep hold of the seat.