Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was last night unveiled as the running mate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate MP Abdullah Yameen, ahead of elections scheduled for September this year.
Dr Jameel’s appointment was announced during a ceremony held yesterday evening at Dharubaaruge conference centre in Male’, with local media soon reporting that the President’s Office had called for the minister’s resignation to prevent any apparent “conflict of interest”.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile claimed that Dr Jameel’s selection would have no impact on its own campaigning ahead of September’s vote, accusing the current home minister of political opportunism in the hopes of prolonging his time in government.
Following the PPM ceremony yesterday, Home Minister Jameel used his Twitter account to comment on the appointment.
This is one of the most important night of my political career, I remain ever committed to serve this nation in whatever capacity I can
— Mohamed Jameel Ahmed (@MJameelAhmed) May 9, 2013
Earlier the same day, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that the party had selected the “perfect running mate” to contest the upcoming presidential elections alongside MP Yameen.
“We have selected a political candidate who has the best interests of the country,” Nihan told Minivan News ahead of the ceremony, adding that the PPM was one of the few parties in the country currently in a position to be able to announce a presidential running mate.
Nihan said that despite ongoing legal wrangling over the validity of the party’s recent primary vote, the party would continue to move forward with its elections plans with its election manifesto expected to be printed soon.
Shortly before the PPM officially confirmed Dr Jameel as MP Yameen’s running mate, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was quoted in local media as calling for the home minister to resign from his position.
Masood told Sun Online yesterday that Dr Jameel’s decision to stand with the PPM during elections would create a conflict of interest regarding President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s own re-election plans.
MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the PPM’s decision to pick Dr Jameel’s to stand alongside MP Yameen in the upcoming elections was a “foregone conclusion” as far as the party was concerned, adding it would not have a drastic impact on its own campaigning.
“It is not a surprise to us. The appointment will be of no consequence to our election campaign,” he said.
Ghafoor claimed that the decision to appoint a senior member of President Waheed’s government to the PPM ensured that the party would be linked by voters to the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
The power transfer, which saw former President Mohamed Nasheed resign from office after a mutiny by sections of the police and military has been labelled a “coup d’etat” by the MDP. The party’s allegations were nonetheless dismissed by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of national Inquiry (CNI).
Ghafoor accused Dr Jameel of being one of the main “fragments behind the coup”, accusing him of siding with the PPM to try and prolong his time in government.
Dr Jameel, along with Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, were last month set to face no-confidence motions in parliament that were later withdrawn by the party, after the Supreme Court blocked the holding of the vote as a secret ballot.
With the opposition party claiming previously it had still not ruled out re-submitting the no confidence motions, Ghafoor said Jameel’s move was a deliberate attempt to “escape impeachment”.
“This is definitely political opportunism. I believe he has leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire with this move,” he said.
Speaking personally on the appointment, Ghafoor questioned the support and respect in the country for Dr Jameel, accusing him of being a “discredited man” and praticing “hate speech”.
Dr Jameel has held the position as Deputy Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). During the DQP’s time in opposition under the previous administration, the party published a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’.
The publication, described by the then MDP government as a “pamphlet of hate”, accused Nasheed of “working ceaselessly to weaken the Islamic faith of Maldivians, allow space for other religions, and make irreligious and sinful behaviour common.”
The repeated arrest of Jameel by police over his alleged hate speech, and his subsequent releases by Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, led to Nasheed’s decision to detain the judge on charges of corruption and political collusion in early 2012. Protests by the then-opposition in the wake of the judge’s detention were shortly followed by a police mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, which he maintains was made under duress.