The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will not obstruct or hinder the government should the party win a parliamentary majority in the upcoming general elections, former President Mohamed Nasheed said last night.
Speaking at the campaign launching ceremony for the MDP’s candidate for Manchangoalhi North, MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, Nasheed said obstruction of development projects or government programmes was not the opposition party’s intention.
“Our philosophy is not obstruction. We do not wish to stop undertakings of President [Abdulla] Yameen’s government. We wish for it go ahead on the right path,” he said.
The role of an opposition party in a country with a presidential system was ensuring that campaign pledges are fulfilled, Nasheed added.
Nasheed noted that President Yameen made a number of pledges during last year’s presidential campaign, including raising old age pensions to MVR5,000 a month, providing MVR10,000 to fishermen during lean months, assuring “unlimited” health insurance, and assigning a general practitioner to each family.
“MDP’s legal responsibility today is to encourage holding the government answerable for fulfilling its pledges, if the pledge is not contrary to our philosophy and principles,” he said.
Nasheed suggested that a supplementary budget should be submitted to parliament with funds allocated for fulfilling the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) campaign promises, which was not the case with the 2014 state budget approved by parliament.
As an additional MVR34 million (US$2.2 million) would be needed to raise the elderly benefits, Nasheed said the required amount could be saved from the budget by halving the salary and allowances of ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers.
He added that the MDP would seek amending the relevant laws to reduce wages of political appointees.
“We need a majority of the People’s Majlis to bring about this change through the law,” he said.
Meanwhile, campaigning in Noonu Velidhoo last night, President Yameen urged voters to choose candidates representing the governing ‘Progressive Coalition’ in order to ensure that the executive receives the necessary cooperation from the legislature.
Yameen argued that parliament was “in need of change” and needed to earn the public’s respect.
He added that it was the parliament that would “put the final stamp” on the government’s efforts to fulfil its campaign pledges.
“If the general rule that they follow is to try to stop everything that is beneficial for the people, that’s not responsible,” the president was quoted as saying by Sun Online.
Yameen also reportedly indicated that the government could submit a supplementary budget this year. The president has previously accused parliament of delaying approval of loans through the public finance committee.
“I need some cash”
In his speech, Nasheed meanwhile referred to a leaked phone conversation in July 2010 between business magnate MP Gasim Ibrahim and then-Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, who recently joined the PPM, in which the latter asks the business magnate for “some cash”.
In a second leaked conversation, Nasheed read out a draft outlining the then-opposition’s plans to block taxation legislation and amend the Public Finance Act to require parliamentary approval for signing agreements such as the airport privatisation deal with GMR.
The amendments were cited as the main reason for the en masse cabinet resignation in June 2010 with Nasheed announcing at the time that the new laws would make it “impossible for the government to function.”
While then-President Nasheed ratified the amendments after parliament overrode his veto, the government filed a case at the Supreme Court in December 2010 contesting the constitutionality of some provisions.
Nasheed contended last night that opposition politicians obstructed the MDP government because they feared the party would win reelection if it was allowed to implement its policies.