In preparation for the Local Council Election scheduled for January 18, 2014, political parties have begun preparations for contesting the elections that will decide island, atoll and city councillors for the next three years.
Progressive Party of Maldives
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has announced the party will be contesting for a total of 627 seats. This includes 533 seats in island councils, 84 seats in atoll councils and 10 seats in city councils.
Local media has reported that the PPM will be taking applications from members wishing to contest in the elections till today (December 1). Unlike the rest of the contesting parties, the ruling party requires that each contestant pays an application fee of MVR 100 (USD 6.5). Contestants must also be members who have been on the party register from before September 30, 2013.
The party further states that it plans to hold primaries where necessary on December 4, adding that primaries will only be held if more contestants than the number decided upon by the PPM leadership submit applications.
In the instance that primaries are held, the results will be announced by December 5.
PPM MP Ahmed Nihan and Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Mahloof were not responding to calls at the time of press.
Jumhooree Party (JP)’s Local Council Election Steering Committee Manager “KD” Ibrahim Didi stated that the party will be contesting for over 340 council seats.
“The leadership of the ‘Gulhifaivaa Ihthihaadh’ [United Coalition – the current ruling coalition consisting of PPM, MDA, JP and AP] has held deliberations on which coalition partner will be contesting in specific constituencies. We have almost reached a consensus now. However, there are still some seats where parties are deliberating with each other to swap or bring other minor changes,” Didi explained.
Didi stated that the deadline for applications of contestants end at 6pm on December 2, saying “it’s going quite speedily today. I think we’ll have enough applicants by the end of the day.”
Asked if the party plans to hold primaries, Didi responded, “It looks like we may have to hold primaries after all. Similar to, I believe, the othercontesting parties, JP also wants to bring out the most qualified, capable people we can possibly find to contest in this election.”
“We tried very hard to avoid having to hold primaries, by settling this through discussions and by trying to avoid any reasons for discord.”
“Despite these attempts, there are still about ten areas in which we will have to hold primaries as there are more than one candidate. But then, that is the nature of what happens in a democracy, I suppose,” he continued.
On November 26, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim stated in a party rally that they had sent a letter to the PPM’s leader and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom asking for clarification of which constituencies the party can contest in for the local council election.
Gasim had further said then that the government had thus far failed to allocate the promised state positions to the party, adding that he believed this could be due to the government being “hectically engaged in other governance matters”. He said that in addition to parliament and local council seats, the party had asked the PPM leader about what other state positions would be granted to them.
“Our President Abdulla Yameen is an experienced man. Maumoon, too, is a person who has far more political experience than seen otherwise in the history of the Maldives. They will certainly not act in a way which will deprive us of benefits,” Gasim is quoted as saying in local media.
“What we have to say to party members and supporters is that we will present to you whatever we get”.
Maldivian Development Alliance
“All candidates that contest from our side will be brought out as representatives of the unity coalition. As a whole, we will contest in every island of every atoll,” Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) Deputy Leader Ali Mauroof stated.
“The coalition is currently holding deliberations on the matter. However, MDA will be contesting especially for seats in the island of Hoarafushi in Haa Alif Atoll, Madaveli in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll, as well as the majority of islands in Noonu and Dhaalu atolls,” he said.
“We will have to hold primaries if there are more contestants than our number of seats. However, we are of the mindset that we will try to solve this through discussion and deliberation.”
Mauroof said that the party will work in alignment with its coalition partners and other parties that supported them in the presidential elections.
“The relationship between the coalition partners remain strong and we will go forward united to win this election,” he stated.
In contradiction to the other members of the unity coalition who have agreed to run jointly in the election, Adhaalath Party(AP) has announced that it will contest separately.
AP is quoted in local media as saying that the party will be bringing out a “very high” number of contestants for the local council elections.
According to these reports, AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla stated that by the end of November, 104 members have applied to contest in the local council election.
Imran further said then that although the AP is running separately, it will extend cooperation to coalition candidates where needed.
AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, and Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed were not responding to calls at the time of press.
Maldivian Democratic Party
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s coordinator for the local council elections Ibrahim Waheed said that the party is contesting for approximately 95% of the seats in the January election.
“We are holding primaries in the areas where more than one candidate have applied. This amounts to about 70 to 80% of the constituencies. While some parties are saying otherwise, we believe it is important that the final candidate be decided upon through holding primaries. If, like some others, a candidate is chosen through discussion and not votes in a primary, then it will not at all reflect the will of the people,” Ibrahim said.
“We are now working on sending statements to those who won in last Saturday’s primaries, as well as those in areas where there was no other candidates contesting, so that they can run in the party’s name. We believe all the primaries will be done, and the administrative work around it will be completed by December 8,” he explained.
Ibrahim further pointed out that candidates from the party have been facing a number of challenges.
“The small time frame that the courts have given to clear people’s records of offences have proven to be a huge inconvenience,” he said.
“The procedure is such that for the final application to the EC, the form contains sections that need to be filled by the courts, the penitentiary department and other offices located in Male’, and then again by the council offices in the island where a candidate is contesting for. The geographical situation makes this very complicated,” he continued.
“The other thing is that, all offices including the High Court and Supreme Court accept the application forms of the Elections Commission. However, the Criminal Court and Ablo Ghazi [Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed] seem to be above the apex court even.”
“They insist that candidates submit a separate form issued by them, which further slows down the process and increases complexity of the matter. The EC informed us that the Criminal Court has in official terms agreed to accept the commission’s forms, however that is not what is happening in reality,” he said.
Elections Commission Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar’s phone was switched off at the time of press.