Elections Commission rejects PPM’s calls for “lenient” voter registration

The Elections Commission (EC) has denied receiving any formal complaints over its capability to ensure a fair election in September this year, after rejecting requests by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to make voter registration more “lenient”.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News no “official complaints” had been filed with the commission over its ability to capably oversee the upcoming presidential election, despite the PPM alleging in local media that it was incapable of ensuring a fair vote.

Thowfeek said the PPM have previously requested the EC not to reject voter registration forms missing details such as the name of a voter’s parents or a phone number, that could not be verified during random checks.

PPM Council member and Youth Minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef was quoted in newspaper Haveeru this week calling for “major reforms” to the commission, which he alleged lacked the capacity to oversee fair voting.

The government-aligned party reportedly alleged that concerns over the false registration of voters in previous elections and discrepancies between the previously gazetted registry and the documents used by the EC itself on polling day had not been addressed.  The claims were dismissed by the EC today.

Shareef’s concerns included fears about the false registration of voters, as well as allegations of discrepancies between the gazetted registry and the final document used by the EC on voting day. Unspecified issues were also raised about how national identity cards were being used.

Minister Shareef and PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Nihan were not responding to calls at time of press, while the party’s vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was travelling and unable to answer queries on the allegations.

PPM meeting

While aware of Minister Shareef’s allegation in local media, EC President Thowfeek said he held a meeting with PPM representatives on Sunday and that no formal complaints had been been raised by the party over the EC’s competency.

He added that Shareef was among five PPM members who met with the EC during an hour and a half discussion over its work “safeguarding” the voter registry.

Thowfeek claimed that as with other parties fielding candidates for this year’s voting, the EC discussed measures it had taken to improve prevention measures for voter registry fraud, while also trying to deal with key errors that had arisen since the country’s first multi-party election in 2008.

“We have worked to rectify these mistakes and in the last council elections there were hardly any complaints raised with us by political parties,” he said. “More than that, we have worked hard this year to get the registry up to date.”

According to Thowfeek, the EC has also run campaigns on state media requesting the public update their details to ensure voters and their families were correctly registered ahead of voting.

“I can assure everyone that we are using the best system available right now,” he said. ” Even if someone is to die [in the lead up to voting], their name cannot now be changed from the list of registered voters that has [been published in the government gazette], but it will still be a very accurate voter registration.”

Thowfeek said the PPM during the meeting had requested more “lenience” in voter registration.

He said that aside from requesting for an extension to the August 7 deadline for voters to re-register if they wished to cast their ballot somewhere other than their home island, the PPM had also requested that the EC accept applications that failed to include details such as the name of a voter’s mother or father, or a phone number that could not be verified.

Thowfeek said the commission was unable to oblige the party’s requests as random verification of phone numbers and names of parents were a central part of efforts to combat potential voter fraud.

“The phone number and the mother and father’s name have to be correct on any application or we cannot accept it,” he said. “The name of a voter’s parents are not included on the ID card and are important to ensure that if an ID is stolen, it cannot be used to register a voter incorrectly.”

With the PPM reportedly requesting an inquiry by parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee, rival election candidates such as President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the nation coalition’ today claimed the EC did have the capability and staff to oversee fair polling.

The president’s coalition presently consists of his own Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) and the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

Coalition view

Coalition Spokesperson Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said despite having some concerns over the EC’s ability to deal with complaints regarding campaigning and alleged bullying of candidates, the coalition had few issues with the commission’s capability to ensure voting was fair.

“The only concern we have raised [with the EC], is that when complaints are registered concerning treatment of candidates while campaigning, we have not seen these complaints attended to,” he said.

Nafiz told Minivan News that during several recent key votes such as the local council elections, he had been aware of formal complaints being sent to the EC about the behaviour of rival supporters when out campaigning.

In the build up to this year’s election, he added that both President Waheed, his running mate DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and their spouses had been subject to “disturbing” behaviour from supporters of rival parties.

Nafiz said complaints had been officially registered with the EC over rival supporters heckling them with derogatory remarks as they tried to campaign.

“I was myself recently with the president as he went to get 1,500 signatures door-to-door in Male’ [to support his successful attempt to register as an independent presidential candidate],” he said. “I personally witnessed people passing on vehicles and shouting abuse such has ‘baaghee (traitor) Waheed’ at the president. These concerns have been raised with the EC.”

Nafiz said he had hoped that the EC would respond to this behaviour by making an announcement calling for the public and supporters of parties to refrain from such acts, or even reviewing legal options to prevent future incidents.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Jumhoree Party (JP) Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz were not responding to calls at time of press.


President obtains 1,500 signatures for independent candidacy, coalition claims “things going to plan”

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has obtained the 1,500 signatures required to register himself as an independent candidate in the upcoming election, his ‘forward with the nation’ coalition has said.

Amidst the possibility of his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) facing dissolution for not having the 10,000 members required to officially register a political entity in the Maldives, President Waheed this week announced his intention to stand for election as an independent candidate.

The incumbent will stand as an independent alongside his running mate, MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – leader of the government aligned Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).

Candidates unaffiliated with a political party are required to submit signatures of at least 1,500 supporters with their official application to stand in the upcoming presidential election, according to local media.

In order to meet this total, President Waheed held a signing ceremony at the presidential residence of Hilaaleege in Male’ on Wednesday (July 17) evening.

Minivan News observed an estimated 200 people present at the ceremony by around 10:00pm, where the president’s family members and news reporters were seen mingling with supporters.  The signing event concluded at midnight.

In a statement released Thursday ( July 18 ), the ‘Forward with the nation coalition’ claimed it had seen an “overwhelming response” from the public to sign the petition backing President Waheed’s candidacy, with over 500 people attending the ceremony during the course of Wednesday evening.

“While we have already exceeded the legal minimum we will continue to sign up supporters in the coming days,” the statement said.

Minivan News understands that President Waheed also conducted a door to door campaign to obtain signatures for his candidacy, with the coalition anticipating similar event will continue into next week.  An exact number of signatories was not received at time of press.

President’s Waheed’s coalition until last week consisted of several government-aligned parties; including the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), the DRP and his own GIP.

However, the DQP yesterday announced it would be following the AP in leaving the president’s coalition to back the campaign of resort tycoon and Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim instead.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom has said the defection of both the AP and the DQP from the ‘Forward with the nation coalition’ “did not change the game at all” in terms of its strategy to secure the election during a second round of voting.

A second round will be held between the top two candidates during polls scheduled for September 7 should either fail to secure at least 51 percent of the vote.

“We know that the 2013 election will require a second round of voting and that all candidates wish to be in the grand final. We are optimistic that we will be in this final,” he said.

Mausoom has previously claimed that the DRP – both as an individual party, and later as members of President Waheed’s coalition – remained the main alternative viewpoint for voters disenfranchised by the “polarised views” of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) or the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Dr Mausoom added that even with the defection of the Adhaalath and the DQP, President Waheed still presented a coalition of people rather than individual parties, with more “political figures” expected to come out and back him before voting commences later this year.

He therefore said the coalition was confident it would still appeal to voters as alternative to MDP candidate former President Mohamed Nashhed and the PPM, led by former autocratic President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The MDP and PPM presently represent the country’s two largest parties in terms of parliamentary representation.

While anticipating “moments” in the run up to the presidential election where political figures – either out of financial or ideological reasons – would switch to rival candidates and parties, Mausoom said it would ultimately be the general public who decided on the next president. He argued that Dr Waheed’s record as president following last year’s controversial transfer of power would therefore be recognised by voters during polling.

“President Waheed has done a wonderful job of keeping the government together and shown what a great leader he is,” Dr Mausoom said. “Things are going to plan and we are confident during the second round [of voting] that the people will opt for [the coalition].”

However, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) today rejected claims that the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition would receive sufficient support to see President Waheed elected to office.

MDP MP and Spokesperson claimed that the majority of voters would opt to reject President Waheed as a candidate owing to the controversial transfer of power that brought him to power and the conduct of his coalition government since.  The MDP has continued to allege that former President Nasheed’s government was ended prematurely by a “coup d’eat” on February 7, 2012 following a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

“The bottom line is people will vote overwhelmingly against the coup. It is regrettable [President Waheed] is still hanging on,” he said. “Pretender Waheed has already cost the state upwards of a billion US dollars since the coup.”

Meanwhile, the PPM announced this week that no formal decision had yet been taken on whether to retract its support for the coalition government, despite growing “complaints” from its members over the conduct of President Waheed.

MP Ahmed Nihan today told Minivan News that both the PPM’s senior leadership and ordinary members held significant “concerns” over the conduct of President Waheed in the build up to this year’s presidential election, with the party accusing the incumbent and his supporters of unfair campaigning.

The PPM is the largest party in terms of MP numbers presently serving within the coalition government backing President Waheed.


PPM undecided over leaving government despite “concerns” with President Waheed

The government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said no formal decision has yet been taken on whether to retract support for the government, despite growing “complaints” from its members over the conduct of President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

MP Ahmed Nihan today told Minivan News that both the PPM’s senior leadership and ordinary members held significant “concerns” over the conduct of President Waheed in the build up to this year’s presidential election, with the party accusing the incumbent and his supporters of unfair campaigning.

The PPM is the largest party in terms of MP numbers serving within the coalition government backing President Waheed, which came to power following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

Despite this ongoing support, PPM vice presidential candidate and former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed yesterday (July 14) accused President Waheed in local media of providing harbours to islands on the provision that their councils signed with his Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP).

The allegations were today rubbished by the President’s Office, which claimed that projects such as harbour developments had been allocated by the government last year and were not related in any way to the GIP or its campaign.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad contended that President Waheed would had no say on the placing of harbours earmarked for development before electioneering had begun, adding that the GIP had the least influence within the current government to influence such projects.

While not having personally seen the allegations raised by Dr Jameel, Masood criticised what he claimed was a culture of politicians “saying anything they want” to try and damage political rivals. He added that politicians attempting to attack political rivals without facts or evidence were in danger of disgracing their own parties in the long-term.

“National interest”

Dr Jameel was quoted in local media criticising President Waheed for dismissing him as home minister earlier this year and sacking other PPM supporters from key government posts, which he said reflected a failure of the incumbent to favour “national interest”.

He additionally pointed to recent concerns raised by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over allegations the GIP had fraudulently registered party members in a bid to reach minimum membership.

The ACC said last month after interviewing 100 members of the GIP that 85 percent of those polled had no knowledge of ever joining the party.

Dr Jameel also compared Dr Waheed’s principles – in an unspecified manner – to those of his predecessor former President Mohamed Nasheed, who is himself standing in the election as candidate for the opposition Maldivan Democratic Party (MDP).

The MDP is the country’s largest political party both in terms of numbers of MPs and registered support.

However, Dr Jameel was quoted in local media as dismissing Nasheed’s chances in the upcoming election, claiming he had been “discarded by the people” and had become a “joke” with his attempts to strengthen democracy in the country.

“I don’t believe President Nasheed even has a chance. Also I don’t see a reason he should even be given that chance,” he was reported to have said by newspaper Haveeru.

Dr Jameel was not responding to calls at time of press.

Incentive allegations

PPM MP Nihan said that alongside allegations that the president had been promising harbours to local councils to garner electoral support, the party had also received complaints that senior positions in government companies were also being offered to secure ballots ahead of September’s vote.

“Besides the harbours, there are attempts to try and influence voters. Maybe this is not the work of the president, but there may be strong people belonging to the GIP behind this,” he said.

Nihan said no decision had yet been taken over whether to formally review the PPM’s support of the present coalition government “in the near future”.

However, with the presidential election scheduled just over a month away on September 7, he did not rule out possible the potential for talks on the matter.

“Unofficial” Adhaalath talks

The PPM has also confirmed this week that it had held informal talks over potentially standing in a coalition with the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) for the election after retracting its support for President Waheed. Nihan said there had been no further progress on reaching an agreement.

He claimed that a PPM Council meeting held yesterday evening had not included discussions on forming a coalition “with any party” on its agenda. Nihan said the PPM  was presently involved in “unofficial negotiations” with AP “senior leadership”.


PPM confirms “talks” with Adhaalath Party over prospective coalition

The government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has confirmed talks have been held with “senior members” of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) over potentially standing in a coalition for this year’s presidential election.

PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Nihan has told Minivan News that “several meetings” had been held between the party’s vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah and Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.

Nihan could not provide further details of what conclusion had been reached between the two parties, but claimed that the AP’s potential support would be a “huge boost” for the PPM’s election campaign.

Confirmation of the talks follows the AP’s announcement on Thursday (July 11) that it had quit President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition due to “mysterious events”.

The decision was taken just 24 hours after the AP publicly criticised President Waheed, accusing him of telling international media that the party had “extremist” elements.

However, AP President Sheikh Imran today rejected local media reports that his party had held any discussions with any other political groups following the termination of its coalition agreement with President Waheed.

Sheik Imran was not responding to calls at time of press.

Coalition uncertainty

PPM MP Nihan said today that with recent reports of “uneasiness” between the AP and President Waheed, talks had been held with senior leadership over a possible collaboration. However, he said it was uncertain if any coalition could be reached between the PPM and AP at present.

Nihan added that any potential agreement would still need to be approved by the PPM’s council before being finalised, though he said that the party’s charter did allow for presidential candidate MP Yameen and his running mate to hold talks with other candidates over key issues.

A meeting of the PPM Council has been scheduled for tonight, according to party officials.

Nihan said that he remained of the view that a coalition government was not a solution to run the Maldives effectively at the current time – an argument he claimed had been proven conclusively by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) coming to power backed by a number of parties in 2008.

Parties including the now government-aligned Jumhoree Party, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and later the AP all eventually left former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government after backing him as their presidential candidate.

Nasheed later controversially resigned from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military on February 7, 2012, with the MDP alleging a “coup d’eat” had toppled the country’s first democratically elected government.

“We believe it is difficult to have a coalition here,” Nihan claimed, adding that multi-party democracy in the country was still a very new concept.

He said that despite any potential boost the AP would provide to the PPM’s support base during the presidential election, concerns remained about how successful a coalition could be in the country.

In May, Nihan claimed that although the PPM would continue to lend its support to the present coalition backing President Waheed, the party was not looking to enter into a collaboration ahead of the election scheduled for September.

“Originally in the first round of the 2008 elections, former President Gayoom failed to obtain enough votes to get re-elected. As we know, [former President] Nasheed then formed a coalition to win the election in the second round,” he said. “What we saw then was after 20 days, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim resigned without much reason from the government. This has put a big question mark over the strength of coalitions.”

Speaking at the conclusion of a campaign visit in Raa Atoll yesterday (July 13), MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, President Waheed’s running mate for the upcoming election, was reported in local media as saying that no other candidate had as strong of a team in the upcoming election as the incumbent.

Thasmeen, Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), claimed President Waheed continued to be backed with the “most capable” people that would be able to run a government responsibly, according to Sun Online.

“Considering the ongoing campaigns, it wouldn’t be an untruth if I said that no other candidate has a team as strong as the ‘forward with the nation’ team. You would see who are included in the teams, if you look at the front row during major ceremonies, and if you watch party rallies on TV and the people who speak on stage during these functions,” he was reported as saying.

“I think that the team behind President Waheed consists of capable people who can responsibly run the government, even if they assume this responsibility tomorrow.”

Thasmeen also reportedly praised the president’s patience for being able to run a government with parties who did not always support him on key issues.

Thasmeen and President Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were not responding to calls at time of press.


Adhaalath Party quits President Waheed’s coalition

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

The Adhaalath Party (AP) has quit President Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition due to “mysterious events”, a day after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP the party had “extremist” individuals.

During a two day official visit to Sri Lanka, President Waheed told the news agency that it was “better to work with” the self-claimed Islamist party despite some elements within the party holding “extreme views”, since excluding the party from mainstream politics risked marginalising it. This, he said, would have a “negative long-term effect”.

In a statement (Dhivehi) published on the Adhaalath Party’s website Tuesday (July 9), the party said that it had been offended by the remarks and that such comments from the president would affect its relationship with Waheed’s party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP). The party also denounced the claim that it held extreme views.

“The Adhaalath Party does not by any means hold extremist views. The party is working to introduce Islamic principles to the country, to protect the Islamic faith of the country and the country’s sovereignty,” read the statement.

“Therefore, the party leadership and its members are deeply disappointed by such allegations,” it added.

Yesterday (July 10) following the party’s announcement that Waheed’s comments would have a “significant negative effect” on their relationship, Adhaalath decided to leave the ‘Forward the Nation’ coalition during a meeting of their Consultative Council.

A near unanimous 97 percent of the council voted to leave the ‘Forward with the Nation’ due to “mysterious events”, as well as the coalitions prospective inability to succeed in “saving the nation” from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s “sacrilegious actions”, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah told local media.

“By the will of God, Adhaalath Party will continue to facilitate in providing a safe passage in order to save the nation from Nasheed,” said Abdullah.

He added that the party’s efforts to resolve issues within the coalition last week were “of no use”, however despite leaving ‘Forward with the Nation’, AP will continuously work toward “taking people to safe harbour”.

In a statement (Dhivehi) released today (July 11), the Adhaalath Party detailed their reasoning for leaving Waheed’s coalition.

“They were not putting much effort in preventing Nasheed’s anti-religious, anti-nationalist secular rule from coming back. The ‘broad coalition’ was formed with high hopes to prevent this, but now it seems the coalition is incapable of it,” read the statement.

“No solution has been proposed by other members of the coalition,” it continued.

“By the will of almighty Allah, the Adhaalath [Party] will do whatever it can to protect the sovereignty of this country and its religion from all threats and will continue its actions within the best interests of the state,” it added.

Earlier this week – prior to Waheed’s AFP interview – reports were circulating that the GIP and AP had a falling out with each other after the Adhaalath Party expressed concern over a lack of campaign activities.

Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports suggesting that Adhaalath is now considering the possibility of entering into coalition with resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

The GIP and ‘Forward with the Nation’ still hopes to work together with AP “even after the presidential elections,” the coalition stated in a press release issued yesterday, following the AP’s announcement it was leaving the coalition.

“The Coalition does not have any hard feelings towards Adhaalath Party,” read the statement.

“We also thank Adhaalath Party Leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and other members for their time and support in forming this coalition.

“We believe that, even though we do not campaign together, our final goal must be to strengthen democracy and uphold democratic values and also to work in the best interest of the people,” it concluded.

The President’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition which is backing Waheed’s bid for election in September, now includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). However, several key members of DQP have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.

The Adhaalath Party President Sheik Imran and Sobah Rasheed, AP Member and team leader of Waheed’s election coalition media team, were not responding to calls at time of press.

Jumhoree Party (JP) Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz and Gaumee Itthihad Party (GIP) Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were also not responding to calls at time of press.


President’s coalition denies Adhaalath Party leadership “dissatisfied” with campaign

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) has yet to overtly raise concerns over the manner in which President Dr Mohamed Waheed is campaigning ahead of September’s presidential election, despite media reports suggesting the party is considering backing out of the coalition.

Abdulla Yazeed, a spokesperson on the media team of President Waheed’s election campaign, told Minivan News “no dissatisfaction” has been raised by the AP at a leadership level concerning its campaigning.

However, the spokesperson said media speculation over dissatisfaction by certain parties in the president’s coalition had seen the number of campaign activities increased.

The claims were made after the AP’s consultation council reportedly decided to leave the coalition if campaign activities did not pick up.

AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah was quoted in local media as saying that the party’s consultation council held a meeting on Thursday (July 4) to discuss a motion submitted by three members concerning the AP’s future in the coalition.

“The consultation council decided tonight for the leadership to seek a solution because the coalition’s activities are not progressing and if a solution is not found that we might have to leave the coalition,” Imran was quoted as saying in newspaper Haveeru.

He added that the coalition’s campaign was at a standstill.

Responding to the claims, President Waheed’s Gaumee Itthihad Party (GIP) Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza yesterday told Sun Online that “some members of the AP” wished to remain in the coalition, a decision he claimed would be backed by the majority of the party.

Both Sheikh Imran and Abbas were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Coalition Spokesperson Yazeed told Minivan News that a number of campaign activities were already underway by the president’s supporters, including the recent launch of manifesto policies and a door-to-door meeting with the public both in Male’ and the outer atolls to bolster support for the president.

“The coalition has a member base of 45,000 – equivalent to that of the Maldivian democratic Party (MDP),” he claimed.

With President Waheed having departed on an official visit to Sri Lanka yesterday (July 5), his running mate, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, has been campaigning in Shaviyani Atoll in recent days.

Speaking at a rally on the island of Kanditheemu, Thasmeen was reported in local media as pledging that a Waheed government would establish pre-schools with adequate capacities and highly trained teachers on every inhabited island in the country. There are 196 inhabited islands in the Maldives.

Thasmeen and DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom were not responding to calls at time of press.

Meanwhile, current Housing Minister and AP Secretary General Dr Mohamed Muiz today took to social media service Twitter to express disappointment over not being informed of the tour of Shaviyani Atoll by other coalition members.

He later removed the tweet.

PPM criticism

President Waheed’s campaigning has also come under criticism from the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in recent months.

While the party has continued to support President Waheed as part of his coalition government, MP Ahmed Nihan last month said the PPM remained concerned at what it alleged was his continued use of state funds and resources to support campaigning for the coalition.

“This is our one crucial concern. President Waheed needs to facilitate a free and fair election,” he said.


Pressure growing in PPM to quit coalition government: MP Nihan

Pressure is growing in the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) for its council to decide whether to continue backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government ahead of September’s presidential election, a party official told Minivan News.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said the party has grown increasingly concerned at what it believed were “deliberate” attempts by President Waheed to try and discredit the party and its members to boost his own election campaign.

Nihan said that once senior party officials returned from campaigning this week in Shaviyani Atoll, he expected the PPM council would need to hold discussions on whether to remain in the current coalition government.

The ‘forward with the nation’ coalition backing Waheed dismissed the notion of a split within the government before voting begins, claiming that all parties were expected to stick with the present administration until September’s vote.

However, Nihan said despite the dismissal of several high-profile PPM members from Waheed’s government over the last week, the president had not attempted to make a single call to the party’s presidential candidate, MP Abdulla Yameen.

“We are a government stakeholder, yet not a single call has been made [by President Waheed] to Yameen,” he claimed. “This is the level of how the government operates now.”

Nihan alleged that the government was being run as if it was solely operated by the president’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP), rather than a collection of different parties.

PPM concerns

While not being able to speak for the PPM before an internal vote was taken, Nihan said party councillors and general members had continued to raise concerns about President Waheed’s conduct towards the party and its representatives in government.

He added that with PPM founder former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom expected to return from a visit to Malaysia around June 29, the issue of the party’s ongoing support for the current government would need to be discussed.

“I would hope a motion will be discussed concerning leaving the current government in the coming week after the campaign trips are over,” Nihan said.

“A lot of damage has been done, and there is a belief this has been masterminded by GIP loyalists to discredit the party in the outer islands. It has had the opposite effect though,” he added.

Nihan said a many concerns were raised by members of the perceived deliberate attempt to remove PPM representatives in the government “one by one”.

On Thursday (June 20), Sun Online reported that PPM member Abdullah Nashid was dismissed by the government over accusations he had been involved in corruption.

During the same week, the President’s Office announced it had dismissed Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal and Minister of State for Economic Development Abdulla Ameen from the government at the insistence of their former party, the DQP.

Former Deputy Minister Maleeh expressed his belief at the time that he had been fired because of his support for the presidential candidate of PPM, MP Abdulla Yameen.

On the back of the dismissals, the PPM told local media on June 20 that it would consider leaving the government should the party’s deputy leader and current Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb be fired from his post.

On Wednesday (June 19), Adheeb was accused of running his ministry in an “unacceptable” manner by Mariyam Mizna Shareef who announced her resignation as minister of state for tourism, arts and culture in protest.

Contacted by Minivan News after announcing her resignation, Mizna declined to discuss her position further, requesting to stay clear of the country’s political arena and media attention.

“Political games”

Nihan today accused Mizna, who is the daughter of DRP Spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef, of playing “political games” in what he said was a bid to launch unproven allegations against Minister Adheeb to discredit him.

“Adheeb is the elected deputy leader of our party and is also a great young politician in the country,” he said, “[Mizna] was given her position as a present from [DRP Leader] Ahmed Thasmeen Ali who campaigned to get her the position.”

Nihan alleged that Mizna’s father, Ibrahim Shareef was seeking to blame any negative coverage of the present administration as being the fault of the PPM, as part of President Waheed’s aim of removing its members from the government.

He also accused Shareef of questioning the need to retain the PPM within the present government ahead of elections.

Despite the PPM previously raising concerns over what it claimed was President Waheed’s use of state fund and resources to give his own party an unfair campaign advantage, party officials have maintained that they would remain in the coalition as part of what it claimed was attempt to run the nation in a stable manner.

Nihan said today that the party would continue to look at whether it was in the best interest of the Maldivian people for the party to remain in the present coalition, before any decisions were taken by party members and senior officials.

Despite the PPM’s decision to stand directly against Dr Waheed in the presidential election, Abdulla Yazeed, a spokesperson on the media team of the president’s ‘forward with the nation’ coalition, today dismissed the likelihood of the PPM prematurely leaving the present government.

Yazeed told Minivan News that he did not believe a split in the current administration was imminent, adding that all parties were committed to ensuring the state continued to run effectively ahead of the upcoming vote.

Contacted by Minivan News today, DRP Parliamentary Group Leader Dr Abdulla Mausoom refused to speculate on whether the PPM would remain as a member of the current government up to September’s election.

However, Dr Mausoom dismissed the threat to the coalition’s campaign from the PPM standing as an election rival, claiming the MDP was the only “reasonable competitor” that stood a chance of beating President Waheed’s coalition in September.

He claimed that the party was also confident that no single candidate would have sufficient electoral support to secure a first round election victory, that voters disenchanted with the MDP candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed’s three years in government would look to President Waheed as an alternative to previous administrations.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding to calls at time of press.

Presidential candidates

Of the parties presently part of the coalition government, the PPM announced it would be fielding its own presidential candidate to contest the election after MP Yameen was declared the winner of a primary election against rival Umar Naseer in March this year.

Fellow government-aligned parties including the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party have all pledged to back President Waheed and his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) in the election.

The government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) meanwhile said last week that it would not make a decision on whether to join President Waheed’s coalition before its national congress scheduled for later this month, despite anticipating that it will field its own candidate – expected to be party founder and leader Gasim Ibrahim.