The ruling coalition’s campaign for the upcoming parliamentary by-election for the Dhiggaru constituency is underway while the opposition alliance is yet to decide on fielding a single candidate.
A primary of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) among four candidates seeking the ruling party’s ticket is due to take place on Friday. Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s eldest son, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, is among the contenders.
The by-election, triggered by the 25-year jail sentence handed down to former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, is scheduled to take place on June 6.
All candidates must inform the Elections Commission of their intent to contest the by-elections by the end of April.
The by-election is expected to be hotly contested amid heightened political tension following the jailing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as the alleged unfair targeting of Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests.
Faris is meanwhile in Dhiggaru on a campaign trip at present.
Other contenders in the PPM primary include Meemu atoll council president Moosa Naseer, deputy environment minister Mohamed Hanim and Dhiggaru island council president Imran Ismail.
The ‘Maldivians against brutality’ alliance, made up of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Adhaalath Party (AP) and senior members of the Jumhooree Party (JP), announced last week that discussions were underway on fielding a single candidate.
AP spokesperson Ali Zahir has since announced his intention of contesting in the by-election.
Meanwhile, former MDP chairperson MP Moosa Manik has criticised his old party for not holding a primary to select a candidate.
MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz told Minivan News today that the party has not yet decided whether to field a candidate.
But the MDP “will definitely hold primaries” if it chooses to contest the by-election.
“As a party we have to consider many factors including the independence of the independent institution and so on. The MDP has not yet decided to compete for the seat but if we do a candidate would be selected through primaries,” he said.
MP Moosa Manik, who was expelled from the MDP last year after repeatedly voting against the party’s whip-line, said the party must hold a primary if it is to respect its rules and founding principles.
“In the local council elections I decided not to hold primaries but the decision was opposed by a lot of members. So in the end we had to hold primaries,” he said.
“So if the MDP is not competing, not holding primaries in order to make way for the Adhaalath Party, it would be going against the party’s own norms as well as democratic values. Even though I have been removed from the party’s registry I have sacrificed a lot for MDP. I can’t let MDP drift away from democracy.”
In last year’s parliamentary polls, Nazim was elected with 60 percent of the vote from the Dhiggaru constituency after competing against an MDP candidate. The PPM also won a majority of the Meemu atoll council, which has four PPM members, one MDP member and one independent member.