Former Education Minister and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) running mate Dr Mustafa Luthfy, who has recently been appointed as running mate of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed, has on Saturday commenced his introductory campaign trips to the atolls under the theme of “Nethey Veveykah Baaghee akah” – ‘I will not become a baaghee’ (‘traitor’).
“Under this programme we will be travelling all over the Maldives to campaign for the upcoming elections. The theme for the campaign is that I will not become a ‘baaghee’ [traitor] even if we are beaten and tortured,” Luthfy said in an interview prior to the trip.
The MDP on Tuesday concluded the first of its presidential running mate Dr. Mustafa Lutfi’s introductory campaign trips to the islands, after having held rallies in four of the southernmost atolls of the Maldives. The team plans to travel to over 26 islands, while also holding occasional rallies in the capital island Male’.
MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, former chairperson and MP Mariya Ahmed Didi and former Education Minister Shifa Mohamed were part of the campaign team which travelled to Haa Alif, Haa Dhaal, Shaviyani and Noonu atolls.
Addressing nearly 500 supporters gathered at a rally on Kulhudhuhfushi in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Luthfy said the MDP had been formed to bring an end to the culture of coup d’etats in the Maldives.
“The Maldives is a country in which some individuals in Male’ keep squabbling over power. A glance at our past proves this. This resulted in the development of Maldives proceeding at a much slower pace than it could have gone. In order to bring an end to violence, torture, harassment, deprivation of citizens’ rights, MDP was formed and we worked to establish democratic governance in the country,’ Luthfy said.
“Democracy stipulates that any administration can stay in power only for a specified amount of time. Therefore, there is no need to fight, to orchestrate coup d’etats to rise to power. People must calm down and be patient. The opportunity to rise to power will come with the end of each term. This system was established by MDP, so as to bring an end to the local culture of coups. And yet, before the five year term was up, [they] came out, claiming it was in the name of the nation, on February 7, 2012 and toppled the democracy we had established,” he continued.
“Allah has prohibited coups. However, they came out on Feb 7 under the pretence of action in the name of the nation and patriotism to bring a coup d’etat against Islamic Sharia.”
“In the Quran we have learned that bringing a coup d’etat is haram [prohibited]. We have heard that one must find a way to come to peace with them or come out to battle against them. MDP opted to not take the path of battle, and to peacefully bring an end to the coup. Under this intention, on February 8, MDP came out for a peaceful walk against the coup. However, the people were beaten and tortured. In broad daylight, they shed our blood onto the streets of Male’. Who did this? The very people who are paid salaries from our money to protect our families. They were provided batons and tear gas to protect us. They, however, used these against us,” Luthfy stated.
“I have spoken to many people about how the coup d’etat has affected them. Many of them cried. They spoke of having trouble sleeping, of having nightmares, of having lost appetite, of getting panic attacks. Many of our citizens were psychologically distressed by these events.”
“Expressing ourselves and chanting ‘Baaghee’ at the coup orchestrators helped us. If we hadn’t let out those feelings, we would have been burning up inside with the strong psychological trauma we faced. It is because we came out against this with courage that our efforts have not weakened and we remain strong today. We will continue to stand up against the coup and express ourselves through actions, speech and art. We want to let out our feelings of the coup, we do not want to drown in the bitter thoughts and memories of the coup d’etat. We want to instill in our hearts the feelings of unity and progress,” MDP’s running mate said in his speech.
“Even initially we came out against violence and torture. We came out to bring progress and development to the country. Insha Allah we will win this election in the first round itself, in one round,” Luthfy said, concluding his address.
One local who spoke at the rally told of the adverse effects the alleged coup of February 7, 2012 had on the development of the island.
“Mohamed Nasheed is the only candidate contesting in the upcoming September 7 elections who did not play a role in last year’s treacherous coup d’etat,” the local said.
The team also held rallies in four other islands during the three day trip.
Speaking on Manadhoo in Noonu Atoll, Luthfy said, “It does not at all deter me when upon visiting an island, I am asked to promise that I will not bring about a coup d’etat. It is something I tell myself too.”
He said people’s trepidation about his potential vice presidency was understandable in light of the actions of Nasheed’s previous running mate, current President Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
In addition to rallies, the team hoisted canvas prints depicting images of police brutality which followed the controversial transfer of power in 2012. The team will be leaving on phase two of the campaign trip early this coming week.