Majlis elections: JP Gasim satisfied with results, but says vote-splitting cost greater gains

Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim has stated that, while he is satisfied with the results of the parliamentary elections, independent candidates affiliated with the governing Progressive Coalition cost the group seats.

Speaking at a press conference held on Sunday (March 23) at the party’s campaign headquarters, Gasim revealed that out of the 28 constituencies in which the JP had contested, leading figures of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) had independently contested in eight.

He stated that the provisional results being announced by various media outlets displayed the losses that this decision has caused the coalition due to vote-splitting between the coalition aligned candidates which led the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to win those seats.

Gasim admitted, however, that members of the JP had also contested in three constituencies in which the PPM was allocated, thereby causing the same loss.

He added that, although both parties had previously announced that they will penalise members who contested independently, neither has taken any such action as yet.

“We saw PPM challenge slots that the coalition had granted to us. And then right after that, Adhaalath Party – who used to work very closely with us – also went out and contested. They said that they will contest in the 28 constituencies that were given to us,” Gasim stated.

The JP leader went on to express hope that the independent candidates who have gotten elected to the parliament would work together with the coalition, stating that they are people “who have had ties with the JP and PPM from before their decision to contest”.

He added that with this alliance he is confident that the government coalition will get a three quarter majority in parliament.

He further said that the results of the parliamentary elections are “proof of the public’s acceptance of the current administration”, and of the rising sense of awareness among the public.

“We must make good use of the opportunity before us. If we try to abuse it, then whether we be government or someone else, no good will come of it,” he continued, stating that upon receiving majority in parliament, the focus should be on serving the citizens.

Gasim further stated that he is “not too keen” on acquiring the position of parliament speaker in the newly elected 18th Parliament.

“I will know for sure only when the time comes. I am not keen on it. I have been given that opportunity even previously,” Gasim stated on the matter.

Criticism against Adhaalath Party

At the press conference, Gasim levied heavy criticism against the religious conservative Adhaalath Party which had backed the JP in the early rounds of the 2013 presidential election.

The Adhaalath Party (AP) contested in 13 constituencies in the parliamentary elections, but managed to win only one seat.

Gasim stated that if the AP had accepted the four slots that the JP had offered them and run from within the coalition, they would have had a better chance at winning seats.

“It would have been better for the Adhaalath Party if they had accepted the four seats we offered them. But then, it’s only when a person dies that the living realise his true value. Some people are only able to appreciate how kind their parents were only after they pass away,” Gasim said.

He added that the decision of the AP’s leadership had caused them “irreparable damage” in this election.

“Imran came at me and demanded we give them 15 percent of seats, and said that if we don’t do so, they will contest in 50 constituencies. He said then we will see how that turns out, that we will see which party is able to win more seats.”

I found his words very unpleasant, it is not the kind of words that a person who maintains such Islamic principles would utter,” Gasim said.

“I responded immediately to his words. I said ‘so this is what it all comes down to. Now we are getting to see the truth. Out of impatience, you are struggling to come out of the womb in whichever way possible’,” he stated.

While the Elections Commission’s official provisional results are pending, local media reports that the JP has won 16 seats and the AP has won one seat out of the total of 85 seats in the 18th parliament.


Adhaalath announces five Majlis candidates for JP reserved constituencies

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) has announced five candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in constituencies reserved by the government coalition for the Jumhooree Party (JP).

Unveiling the candidates at a press conference today, AP Spokesperson Sheikh Ali Zahir revealed that discussions were ongoing with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on allocating “three or four constituencies” for AP candidates.

“Adhaalath Party worked from the start to try and field candidates together [with the ruling coalition] or without conflicts. At the final stage of these efforts, we are still really awaiting an answer from PPM,” he said.

While the parties were not engaged in “official” discussions, the AP has asked the ruling party to cede five constituencies for its candidates, Zahir added.

“They have promised to give us constituencies out of [the requested five seats]. PPM has even revealed that through the media. So we hope that it will be concluded as soon as possible because there is very little time left,” he said, referring to the February 11 deadline to submit candidacy papers to the Elections Commission.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on March 22.

“They said they might not be able to give all [five] constituencies. But they will determine from among [the five seats]. We have said we can work together if we get three or four seats,” he said.

The three parties in the governing ‘Progressive Coalition’ reached an agreement last week to allocate constituencies among the coalition partners, with 49 seats assigned for the PPM, 28 seats for the JP, and eight seats for the Maldives Development Alliance.

Following its exclusion from the coalition’s parliamentary election plans, the AP began discussions separately with the three parties on the possibility of allocating constituencies to its candidates.

However, negotiations with the JP ended unsuccessfully after it refused to cede the Vaikaradhoo and Makunudhoo constituencies as requested by the AP.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim told the press that the AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla had refused to accept an offer of four constituencies, including three of five constituencies requested by the party.

Following the breakdown in talks, the AP announced that it would be fielding candidates in the 28 constituencies reserved for JP candidates.


While 35 AP members have submitted forms to contest the parliamentary elections on the party’s ticket, Zahir said today that the party was considering reducing the number of its candidates.

The AP was willing to compromise with the coalition if the parties agreed to cede constituencies where Adhaalath’s support was strong, Zahir said.

“If we contest a lot of seats, it is likely that it will adversely affect the government coalition and they could lose a lot of seats. As this government was brought [to power] with our support as well, we do not want that to happen,” he said.

However, the AP began announcing its candidates today due to the lack of progress so far, he added.

“Even if we go together or through a coalition, the principle we believe is that we will contest in constituencies where we have supporters and a big chance of winning. Winning seats using the support of others is not a philosophy we believe in,” he said.

The five AP candidates announced today were Anara Naeem for the Makunudhoo constituency in Haa Dhaal atoll, Aishath Haleela for the Vaikaradhoo constituency, Ahmed Zahir for the Komandoo constituency, Asadhulla Shafie for the Kaashidhoo constituency, and Hisham Ahmed for the Meedhoo constituency in Addu City.

While candidates from JP will be contesting all five constituencies on behalf of the Progressive Coalition, Zahir said that the AP had complete confidence of securing the seats.

Stressing the competence and academic qualifications of the AP’s candidates, Zahir said the party’s aim was to address public dissatisfaction with the People’s Majlis and ensure that MPs have the respect of the public.

Zahir criticised other parties for “forcing” candidates of questionable character and “low behaviour” on the public.

The AP candidates were selected without a primary by the party’s consultation council, which Zahir said was in the process of selecting candidates for a number of other constituencies.

Zahir also announced that the AP would be contesting the Nolhivaram constituency with a candidate to be finalised at a later date.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed – vice president of the ‘Civil Alliance’ of local NGOs – signed for the AP today. Abdulla had previously expressed interest in contesting the Nolhivaram seat.


MDP councils must cooperate with government developments: President’s Office

The President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has called on the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) majority councils to cooperate with the government’s development plans.

Speaking to local media on Monday, Muaz said the MDP majority councils should focus on working with the government to bring development to the citizens.

According to a Minivan News analysis of the local council election results, the MDP has gained a majority in 79 councils and won 457 seats. The ruling coalition which include the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) control 57 councils and won a combined total of 465 seats.

Muaz specifically called on the MDP led Malé City and Addu City Councils to extend cooperation to the government at a time when President Abdulla Yameen’s administration is initiating major development projects.

“The government will of course always respect the decision of the citizens. However, those people who got elected to councils must bear in mind that today the people desire to overcome political turmoil and focus on bringing development to their cities and islands,” Muaz said.

The Elections Commission (EC) completed announcing the preliminary results of the local councils yesterday.

PPM’s view

PPM’s Local Council Election Coordinator Mohamed Ashmali expressed confidence that the local councils, regardless of party affiliation, would work together in the interests of developing their areas.

“I would like to believe that we will see cooperation from the councils. We saw that even in parliament, MDP provided cooperation in passing some bills key to the government and I believe we will see such cooperation even from the councils,” Ashmali stated.

“The councils must communicate with and work together with whichever government is in power in order to do what they must for their constituencies. There are people who are very close to us in other senses in various parties. Political affiliation is a completely different matter anyway,” he said.

“I think the Maldivian people are still a bit new to the party system, but we are seeing a gradual improvement.”

Ashmali said that as the coalition had worked together in the local council elections, it is important to compare results between the MDP and then the coalition as a single unit, instead of separate parties.

“According to our review of the tentative results, coalition partners mainly got the island and atoll councils. In Addu City, it is true we were not able to conduct sufficient work. The turnout there was also relatively quite low – approximately 60 percent. However, compared to previous years, I believe that having gotten three seats in the Malé City council is quite a good achievement,” he stated.

“I did even suggest to Fuwad Thowfeek [Elections Commission President] that the EC places a ballot box for residents of the island, and a single separate box for voters in an island who originate from other constituencies. This would have assisted in getting the preliminary results out much faster. By just counting the boxes specific to each constituency, citizens and parties would have learnt sooner which seats had been won or lost. This is the information which the parties would most pressingly need after an election,” he added.

No manifesto

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor confirmed that the party’s approach would be to focus on holding the government accountable and to remain a responsible opposition.

“The councils will display a healthy mix of being a responsible opposition and holding the government accountable,” Hamid said.

“The issue that may arise is that while government asks for cooperation, they don’t even have a manifesto to show. This will cause local councils to ask them what it is that they want cooperation for. That it is unclear what exactly the government plans to do,” he continued.

“The thing, however, is that the culture of the past system is still prevailing in the government’s approach. They tend to treat local councils in the manner they approached the former island chief systems, and tend to ignore the fact that councillors are elected and not appointed like island chiefs, and the fact that councillors have a legal mandate and rights,” Hamid said.


Government coalition reveals Majlis election plan – Adhaalath excluded

The government’s coalition announced on Sunday that it had finished dividing seats for the upcoming parliamentary elections between the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), and the Jumhooree Party (JP).

According to the coalition, the PPM will be contesting in 49 areas, the JP in 28, and the MDA in 8.

PPM Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem stated that the division had gone according to the initial agreements made within the coalition during the presidential election.

He acknowledged that the parties had failed to get some of the seats that they requested, but affirmed that all seats had been allocated after much deliberation between party leaders.

He stated that special attention had been given to parties with incumbent parliamentarians in order that they could hold on to those constituencies.

“The areas have been decided upon as per the agreement of all three parties. To be honest, there wasn’t much debate. Everyone took care to make decisions in a manner that had least negative affect on the coalition, and would assist in getting us the most number of seats,” he is quoted as saying in local media.

Raheem had his phone switched off at the time of press.

Parties free to give seats to Adhaalath: PPM

The ruling party stated that, while religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) was excluded from the coalition’s Majlis plan, the parties are free to give the AP seats from those allocated to them.

Abdul Raheem informed local media that coalition parties will discuss the matter in the near future.

“In reality, Adhaalath is not an official part of this Progressive Coalition. So the parties’ idea is to give them what we can from the seats which have been allocated to us,” he stated.

He further stated that Adhaalath had made some requests of the coalition, adding that all of them cannot be fulfilled. He declined from providing details of the request.

“As far as I am aware, JP is considering giving some seats to the AP. The number of seats, or from where, has not been decided yet,” JP Secretary General Hassan Shah told Minivan News today.

JP acting secretary general Dr Mohamed Saud said that he was unable to talk at the time of press.

Adhaalath hopeful of inclusion

The Adhaalath Party, which has previously raised concerns of being excluded from the coalition’s plans, remained hopeful of inclusion – even if via separate parties in the coalition.

“We are still in the hope that the coalition will give us some seats. Now, it is true that we are not an official partner that joined the coalition under share agreements like the JP did. So it cannot be termed as contesting via a separate coalition party even if it is not the full coalition that is giving us seats,” AP Spokesperson Ali Zahir said.

“Of course, there is a limit to what we will accept. If it is way below expectations, then we will not accept it and will proceed to contest separately. I am hopeful that a reasonable solution can be found. We will only know this once the discussions are set into motion,” he explained.

The AP has previously announced that it has members possessing masters or doctorate level qualifications interested in running in 32 different constituencies.


Adhaalath fears exclusion from coalition’s Majlis election plan

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has voiced concerns that, despite it’s assistance in the presidential elections of 2013, the government coalition is failing to include the party in its allocation of constituencies for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

A senior council member of Adhaalath Party (AP) – who wished to remain unnamed – told Minivan News that the party has been excluded from seat allocation discussions currently being held between the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and its coalition partners the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

A representative of the PPM has explained that discussions are first being held with those parties engaged in official agreements with President Yameen’s party before considering electoral arrangements with the religious party.

He alleged that the parties have been in discussions for the past two days while Adhaalath, despite having candidates interested in contesting for 32 constituencies, awaits a response from the group.

“Although there are candidates interested in running for 32 areas, we will understand if the coalition is able to give us somewhat fewer slots. While we are willing to come to an agreement with the coalition on the number of areas to run in, the coalition has so far not given us any opportunity to engage in such a discussion,” he stated.

According to the council member, should the coalition fail to leave sufficient time for campaigning before reaching a decision, the AP will contest separately in the polls.

He further opined that the AP “might be the single party that is bringing out the most number of extremely qualified candidates, with almost all of them having educational qualifications of Masters or Doctorate level”.

AP Spokesperson Ali Zahir confirmed to Minivan News that the party has so far not had any official communication from the coalition regarding the matter.

“We have not yet come to an absolute decision that the coalition is completely cutting us out. We are still awaiting a response from them, which I think will happen after they allocate seats to the parties with whom they already have written agreements. If, however, the coalition does not wish to cooperate with us, we will contest –  even if separately,” Zahir explained.

Will consider including AP: PPM

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan stated that he had learned of the AP’s interest in running in the parliamentary elections approximately a week ago, and that he had conveyed the message to decision makers within the party.

“The thing is, the PPM has official coalition agreements with the JP and MDA. The AP did not join us on an agreement basis. So we can only consider options of sharing seats with AP after we manage to come to an agreement with JP and MDA,” Nihan said.

“The AP usually just communicates with the ruling party through Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, who acts as a middleman. This should not remain so, there must be official communication between the two parties. I will need to check if they have even submitted an official letter asking for coalition cooperation in the parliamentary elections,” he continued.

“After the November 10 elections, the AP came to meet with our then presidential candidate, incumbent President Abdulla Yameen. They said then that they wished to back Yameen and that they would do so without setting any conditions for the agreement. This is why they are excluded from the agreements on the upcoming election,” Nihan said.

“So the thing is, we will first agree upon which seats will be divided between PPM, JP and MDA. As you know, the coalition agreement with JP agrees to give them 33% of the constituencies,” Nihan continued.

“As for the MDA, we have a far too close relationship with them. To use a metaphor, they are a party that married us without dowry. Due to the close nature of the relationship between MDA leader Siyam and Yameen, there are no written agreements between us. But they will be allocated seats as the two parties have never had any friction,” Nihan said.

AP Spokesperson Zahir said that he had no comments to make on the MDA getting seats despite not having a written agreement like the AP, saying “in any case, AP will never be treated like the MDA is treated. We will reveal our thoughts on the matter when the time comes”.

Nihan stated that he hoped the coalition would meet with the AP and come to an agreement, so as not to disadvantage the coalition.

President Yameen has previously called on the AP to contest alongside the coalition, as running separately may lead to vote splitting – benefiting the political opposition.

Earlier in January, the PPM had claimed discussions had been initiated with the AP regarding parliamentary elections, though the AP claims that no official talks have been held to date.


Party members contesting as independents cost seats: President Yameen

Members of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) who contested the local council elections as independents cost the government coalition a number of seats, President Abdulla Yameen has said.

Speaking to reporters this morning prior to his departure to Sri Lanka on an official state visit, President Yameen said more than 85 percent of independent candidates were PPM members.

“We lost seats in large constituencies – Malé and Addu City – we lost seats from these two cities. But that is how things will happen inside a coalition, not just our present coalition,” he said.

PPM members decided to contest as independent candidates in constituencies reserved for coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP), Yameen explained, despite instructions from the party.

“Similarly, a JP member contested as an independent for the Addu atoll mid-constituency where our candidate got the ticket and contested,” he added.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates won in such cases where the vote was split among government-aligned candidates, Yameen said.

As voters considered family connections more than party affiliation in choosing candidates for councils, Yameen said government supporters contested as independents despite the best efforts of the party leadership to field single candidates representing the ruling ‘Progressive Coalition’.

Preliminary results show that the MDP has won eight out of 11 seats on the Malé City Council and all six seats of the Addu City Council.

Complete preliminary results are expected within the next two days.

President Yameen noted that the three seats won by PPM candidates in the capital was an improvement on the February 2011 local council elections, in which the then-opposition took two seats to the MDP’s nine.

Yameen further contended that the results of the council elections showed “huge support for our coalition” as the majority of independent candidates were from the PPM.

“So I am satisfied. [But] we could have put in a better effort,” he said.

Discussions were meanwhile underway among leaders of the PPM, JP, Maldives Development Alliance and the Adhaalath Party to avoid similar issues in the upcoming parliamentary elections and to decide how to divide the 84 constituencies among the coalition partners, Yameen said.

Party leaders would meet the press together and give joint interviews to explain the situation to government supporters in constituencies where there were disputes over choosing candidates, he added.

“I believe party spirit will be stronger in the parliamentary elections than the local council election,” he said.

At a press conference hours after polls closed, former President Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile predicted victory for the MDP in the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 22, based on the outcome of Saturday’s local government elections.

Nasheed was narrowly defeated by PPM candidate Yameen in November’s controversial presidential election, winning 48.61 percent of the vote (105,181) to Yameen’s 51.39 percent (111,203) – a difference of just 6,022 votes.


PPM initiates discussions with Adhaalath Party to jointly contest elections

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has initiated discussions with coalition partner, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP),  to jointly contest in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

While dismissing rumours of having left the government coalition, the AP has announced that it will be contesting in both the parliamentary and local council elections separately from the other coalition members.

The party has further announced that all of its parliamentary candidates will possess educational qualifications to a postgraduate level.

Last week, the AP announced that it had made no agreements regarding working together in the local council and parliamentary elections with the government coalition. Party spokesperson Ali Zahir informed local media that, having worked with the coalition to succeed in the second round of 2013’s presidential elections “without setting any conditions”, the party did not have any subsequent obligation in the upcoming elections.

He said that unlike the other parties in the coalition, the AP was not promised a specific percentage of slots to contest in the upcoming elections. While admitting that the separate candidates could give rise to complications in some constituencies, Zahir claimed that there was no misunderstanding between the party and its coalition members.

“While there were no discussions among the parties’ leadership, in most areas contestants came out after discussion with coalition members in that particular constituency. However, there are some areas in which there might be have been some clashes between who is contesting,” Zahir was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla stated that, while the party had held discussions with the Jumhooree Party (JP) about contesting local council elections, no “meaningful or detailed discussions” had been held with the main coalition party PPM.

“When there is less than 24 hours left, and PPM still does not decide on the matter or speak with us about it, and we proceed to separately submit the candidacy form of our contestants, I don’t believe it can be termed as our initiative to separately contest,” Imran said then.

He stated that at an island-level, the parties still worked together, with a view to resolving matters amicably through inter-party deliberations. He too admitted that certain disappointment had arisen in a small number of constituencies regarding those contesting.

Imran asserted that the AP had no issues with coalition members and repeated that he remained steadfast in his belief that the AP had backed PPM in the presidential elections as a crucial sacrifice to protect Islam and the nation.

“Perhaps the PPM is so busy with handling other governing matters within the executive. This might explain their delay in initiating discussions with us,” Imran opined.

PPM initiates discussions with AP

On Monday, the PPM announced that it had commenced discussions with the AP to jointly contest in the parliamentary elections.

“We have started discussions on the matter with Islamic Minister Shaheem and AP President Imran. AP has decided to compile a special team to engage in these discussions. Our intention is to allow opportunities for AP to contest within the coalition with, of course, consideration to other member parties,” PPM Parliamentary Group Deputy Leader Moosa Zameer told local media.

Zameer stated that while an agreement could not be reached in regard to the local council elections – owing to its immensity – he remains positive that a mutual agreement can be reached in relation to the parliamentary elections.

Speaking at a rally in Dhaalu atoll on Sunday, President Abdulla Yameen called on AP to raise national above personal interest.

“Adhaalath Party has now decided to leave the coalition and contest individually in the upcoming elections. However, we must not allow space for disintegration and creation of factions within the coalition as a result of this,” Yameen said then.

He stated that Adhaalath’s decision would lead to votes being split between the coalition parties and would facilitate opposition parties in winning seats.

“Things don’t end just by getting elected to run a government. We come to power to serve the people. For that, it is vital to get the cooperation of councils and the parliament,” Yameen said, adding it will be impossible to reach goals without the support of these institutions.

“Despite coming to government with numerous pledges, it is reasons like this that inhibit a government from fulfilling its promises. This is what citizens must think about. You elected me to accomplish certain things for the citizens. For me to able to complete this, you citizens must ensure that you elect the cooperation that I require, that you give me the empowerment that I need,” Yameen stated.

Yameen called on the AP to extend cooperation to the coalition during the upcoming elections similar to their support during the past presidential elections.


Coalition will overcome “ordinary” rifts: Gayoom

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom has disregarded claims of rifts in the current government coalition as “ordinary”, expressing confidence that disputes will be sorted out in the near future.

Coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) had expressed dissatisfaction regarding the PPM’s failure to consult the party in compiling the state budget for 2014.

“It is understandable that sometimes, on particular matters, misunderstandings within a coalition may arise. That is how it happens in all parts of the world,” Gayoom said, addressing media upon return to the Maldives from a personal trip to Malaysia.

He stated that in general, the leaders of the coalition parties shared a “strong sense of unity and a spirit of working together”. He assured supporters that he would “wisely take on smoothing out any discord there may be within the coalition”.

While Gayoom speaks of solving issues within the coalition, his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen and JP leader Gasim Ibrahim – whose support was crucial in PPM winning the presidential election – have exchanged harsh criticism against each other regarding the proposed budget for 2014.

Deputy leaders of both parties have dismissed the claims that a rift existed within the coalition.

Upcoming elections

Gayoom further confirmed that as the main party in the coalition, PPM is currently working on assigning constituencies to the coalition partners for the upcoming elections, adding that it will be assigned as was agreed during the formation of the coalition for the presidential election.

PPM is competing in the upcoming elections together with coalition partners JP and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

PPM had promised the JP over 30 per cent of cabinet positions, parliamentary seats and local council seats in exchange for their support in the presidential election.

Earlier in November, Gasim expressed concern about the governing party’s failure to fulfill its promises to the JP, adding that it may be because the PPM “is hectically engaged in other government matters”. Stating that he did not believe Yameen or Gayoom would “deprive JP of benefits”, Gasim stated then that he had sent a letter to the PPM’s leader asking for clarification of what the JP is entitled to.

The fourth party in the coalition, religious conservative Adhaalath Party – after having recently dismissed rumours of it leaving the alliance – has announced that it will be contesting in the elections separate from the coalition.


Rifts in government coalition over proposed budget

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) have exchanged harsh criticisms following disagreements over the proposed budget for 2014.

President Abdulla Yameen has said coalition partners must let the PPM decide on the allocation of funds for the state budget.

In response, Jumhooree Party leader (JP) – and third placed candidate in this year’s presidential elections – Gasim Ibrahim has criticized the PPM for its alleged failure to consult the JP in compiling the proposed budget. Gasim’s backing was crucial in Yameen’s presidential win.

He is also the chair of the parliament’s Budget Review committee.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Yameen called on coalition partners to approve the proposed budget, saying “It will be impossible for the government to work for a common goal if coalition partners are to decide upon what amount of funding needs to be included in the budget for separate projects.”

Only the government will know how to draft a budget in the “best interests of the people,” he said, adding that a coalition can only work if there is cooperation within it.

The PPM had promised the JP over 30 percent of cabinet positions, parliamentary seats, and local government seats in exchange for the party’s support in the second round of presidential polls.

Yameen said that coalition members must not view the alliance as an opportunity to guarantee themselves what they want from within the government, nor should it be seen as a chance to bring out whatever number of candidates they wish to compete in an election.

Instead, forming a coalition is in itself an agreement to abide by the decisions of the main party in the said alliance, he said.

It is unnecessary for citizens to know details about a coalition or the agreements about what is promised to each coalition partner, he added.

“To view it with a united mindset and approve the budget we have proposed is the first step that our coalition partners can take to serve the people. There must be unity, or at least sincerity, in our coalition partners. For MDP, or another opposing party, to have opposing views is perfectly acceptable. But if there are to be major differences in the viewpoints of our coalition members, that is not what we made a coalition for,” Yameen said, criticizing members of his coalition.

“If at the initial stages, coalition partners themselves are to stand up and criticize every issue that arises about our proposal, I really do not see how I will be able to fulfill the people’s needs,” Yameen said.

“When figures for expenses are simply written and the budget is passed as such, while knowing it is not possible to get the said funds, and then the government fails to raise the funds written in the budget for specific projects, it is the government who will be held to account by disgruntled citizens. It is not the parliament, nor our coalition members, who will then have to be answerable, but us,” he continued.

The president stated that he or his government would only bear responsibility for unfulfilled pledges and policies if the budget is approved by parliament as it is.

“If the budget is not passed as it is, and multiple changes are brought to it, then I will not take responsibility for not being able to deliver as planned,” he said.

Parliament has scheduled voting on the budget for tomorrow.

Government held no discussion with coalition about budget: Gasim

Budget Review Committee Chair Gasim Ibrahim – who himself proposed 14 amendments to the budget – responded to Yameen’s comments stating that the government has failed to hold any discussions about the budget with coalition partners.

“Despite being a part of the coalition, the government held no discussion whatsoever with us regarding this budget. Proof enough of this fact is the number of amendments I have submitted to the budget. Had they held initial discussions with us prior to submitting the budget, I would not have had to do this today,” he said, submitting his amendments to parliament on Thursday.

“I am both a coalition member and the Chair of the parliamentary committee tasked with budget review. And yet, we have had no suggestions or discussions from the government,” he continued.

Among the 14 amendments proposed by Gasim, he has included a suggestion to add MVR 6 million to the budget of the Local Government Authority, MVR10 million to the budget of the Maldives National University and MVR5 million to the budget of Prosecutor General’s Office, all in a way that does not increase the total amount of the annual state budget.

Earlier in November, Gasim spoke in a party rally about the government’s failure to provide the promised state positions to Jumhooree Party, while adding that it may be due to PPM being “hectically engaged in other government matters” and expressing confidence that Yameen and party leader and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will not “deprive [his party] from benefits”.