Former President Gayoom urges public to join PPM to protect democracy, Islam

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has urged Maldivians to join his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) if they wish to safeguard democracy and the role of Islam in the country.

Speaking at a rally in the island of Fuvahmulah yesterday (April 12) to mark the official launching of PPM’s presidential campaign, Gayoom reportedly called on all Maldivians wishing for democracy to prevail in the nation to join with his party.

“Some people keep talking about parties forming coalitions, that they are forming alliances with others,” he was reported by Sun Online as saying.

“What I want to say is, if any of you want a perfect democracy, if any of you want Islam be sustained in the Maldives, if any of you want Maldivian sovereignty to be protected, I would like to ask that person to quickly join PPM.”

Gayoom autocratically ruled the Maldives for 30 years until being defeated by a coalition of parties backing former President Mohamed Nasheed in the country’s first democratic mutli-party elections in 2008.

Speaking to Minivan News today, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said that Gayoom has long been established as being committed to upholding the country’s religious values and sovereignty.

Nihan said that since the PPM’s formation in 2011, the party had sought to prioritise defending the nation’s sovereignty and Islamic faith as outlined in the constitution.

He added that even before the PPM was formed by a breakaway faction within the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – which Gayoom established back in 2005 – preserving Islam as the country’s only religion and protecting local culture has been a key focus for Gayoom’s supporters.

Addressing these supporters during last night’s rally, PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen pledged to reform the taxation system and attract large foreign direct investment to the Maldives.

Yameen argued that levying a tax on “the person who imports the noodles packet” was better than taxing the consumer who buys it.

PPM would “revolutionise” how the state raises revenue, local media reported Yameen as saying.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the Fuvahmulah rally, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed called on all parties in the government coalition to back PPM in the presidential election.

Jameel joined Yameen’s campaign team during the recently concluded PPM presidential primary. The home minister currently faces a no-confidence motion in parliament.

Jameel’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has recently announced its intention to form a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) for the September election.

DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed previously said that the party would not consider forming a coalition with either PPM or the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“Weakening faith”

Meanwhile, speaking on Thursday (April 11) during an ongoing tour of North Maalhosmadulu Atoll, President Dr Mohamed Waheed expressed concern that “weakening faith” among Maldivians was allowing unspecified “foreign powers” to increase influence over the country.

“Our national anthem, national flag, and national colours that symbolize the country should come first,” read an official President’s Office statement quoting Dr Waheed.

His comments were slammed by the opposition MDP, which accused him of being double-faced, while also using the language of a “dictator”.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor rejected suggestions that President Waheed stood as a unifying force for Islam in the Maldives, accusing him of politicising the nation’s faith for his own gain.

Hamid claimed that many Maldivians were aware that the president had sought to “play Islam” for political gain since he took office following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.