The long-awaited president election on November 9 is an opportunity to “regain the development lost on February 7, 2012,” former President Mohamed Nasheed said in his final campaign message ahead of tomorrow’s presidential polls.
“Through the right to vote we will secure the right to water and sanitation, housing, transport, and education,” the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate said. “Our second term will also bring contentment to the Maldivian people.”
The MDP’s “costed and budgeted” manifesto was devised to bring about the “proud citizen” who can stand tall, provide for his family through honest work and be free from anxiety over unaffordable healthcare, he said.
“I am asking very sincerely for your vote on the November 9 election,” Nasheed said.
“The election November 9 is the final result of the coup perpetrators’ devious plot to undermine the constitution and take over the government,” he said.
“Today we are able to have this election as a consequence of the efforts of many Maldivian citizens in defence of our future.”
Nasheed expressed particular gratitude to the staff of the Elections Commission.
The economy has suffered the consequences of annulling and delaying the presidential election while relations with foreign partners have deteriorated to unprecedented levels, he continued.
Establishing strong ties with the outside world does not amount to “forgoing our nationhood,” Nasheed contended, adding that Maldivian nationhood in a globalised world would be “based on Islam, the Dhivehi language, culture and human rights.”
Foreign ambassadors and diplomats were coming to the Maldives more than ever before to “save the Maldivian people from the impoverishment we could face if there is no elected government,” he said.
The Maldives could not afford to be an “isolated nation” as foreign assistance was required for infrastructure development, higher education opportunities, and medical treatment.
Development could not be secured by “oppressing, suppressing and intimidating the people,” he said.
State of the economy
The MDP meanwhile issued a press statement today calling on the Auditor General to conduct an audit to assess the state of the government’s finances.
The party contended that the Finance Ministry has accumulated domestic debt in violation of the Public Finance Act while the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) printed money to finance the government’s deficit spending.
Compared to 2012, the party noted that loans or credit sought from the domestic market increased 30 percent this year.
The MMA governor revealed to parliament’s Finance Committee recently that the government owed MVR1.5 billion to the central bank, MVR1.5 billion to the State Trading Organisation (STO) and “close to a billion to other parties that release credit to the government,” the statement observed.
MMA Governor Dr Fazeel Najeeb had said that the sums were not included in the 2013 budget while the 2014 budget had no allocations for repayment, the MDP noted.
The value of the rufiya has fallen as a result of printing MVR1.5 billion to finance government expenditures, the party argued, noting that the MDP government ceased deficit monetisation in August 2009 through an agency agreement between the Finance Ministry and MMA.
Under the circumstances, the statement continued, offering a lump sum payment to ministers was “shameful.”
Islam and sovereignty
Meanwhile, speaking at the final campaign rally of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) last night, the party’s candidate Abdulla Yameen said it was “obligatory” upon all Maldivians to vote for him for the sake of Islam and the nation.
Yameen appealed to members of Adhaalath Party, Jumhooree Party and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party to vote for him.
The PPM’s efforts during the three year MDP government showed that it was the only party that worked on behalf of the religion and the nation, Yameen said.
People should not complain or blame political leaders if they did not perform the duty of voting for the PPM candidate on Saturday, the half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said.
While the Maldives is not a rich country, Yameen said it could be made a prosperous nation under the stewardship of a “trustworthy” president.
The PPM leadership was comprised of “capable, educated and sincere” people, he added.
The next leader would have to begin from “1000 feet under” as the national debt had soared such that a newborn was indebted by MVR180,000, Yameen said.
A PPM government would clear the budget deficit in its first two years and achieve a surplus in the third year, Yameen pledged.
Yameen said he could have “awarded projects any way I wanted” when he served in the cabinet and as the chairman of government-owned companies under the Gayoom administration, and could have become the richest man in the country.
“But, God willing, after a long public service, I am able to talk about the corruption of another person in front of the people at this podium today because, by the grace of God, I am free from [corruption],” he said.