PPM undecided over leaving government despite “concerns” with President Waheed

The government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said no formal decision has yet been taken on whether to retract support for the government, despite growing “complaints” from its members over the conduct of President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

MP Ahmed Nihan today told Minivan News that both the PPM’s senior leadership and ordinary members held significant “concerns” over the conduct of President Waheed in the build up to this year’s presidential election, with the party accusing the incumbent and his supporters of unfair campaigning.

The PPM is the largest party in terms of MP numbers serving within the coalition government backing President Waheed, which came to power following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

Despite this ongoing support, PPM vice presidential candidate and former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed yesterday (July 14) accused President Waheed in local media of providing harbours to islands on the provision that their councils signed with his Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP).

The allegations were today rubbished by the President’s Office, which claimed that projects such as harbour developments had been allocated by the government last year and were not related in any way to the GIP or its campaign.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad contended that President Waheed would had no say on the placing of harbours earmarked for development before electioneering had begun, adding that the GIP had the least influence within the current government to influence such projects.

While not having personally seen the allegations raised by Dr Jameel, Masood criticised what he claimed was a culture of politicians “saying anything they want” to try and damage political rivals. He added that politicians attempting to attack political rivals without facts or evidence were in danger of disgracing their own parties in the long-term.

“National interest”

Dr Jameel was quoted in local media criticising President Waheed for dismissing him as home minister earlier this year and sacking other PPM supporters from key government posts, which he said reflected a failure of the incumbent to favour “national interest”.

He additionally pointed to recent concerns raised by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over allegations the GIP had fraudulently registered party members in a bid to reach minimum membership.

The ACC said last month after interviewing 100 members of the GIP that 85 percent of those polled had no knowledge of ever joining the party.

Dr Jameel also compared Dr Waheed’s principles – in an unspecified manner – to those of his predecessor former President Mohamed Nasheed, who is himself standing in the election as candidate for the opposition Maldivan Democratic Party (MDP).

The MDP is the country’s largest political party both in terms of numbers of MPs and registered support.

However, Dr Jameel was quoted in local media as dismissing Nasheed’s chances in the upcoming election, claiming he had been “discarded by the people” and had become a “joke” with his attempts to strengthen democracy in the country.

“I don’t believe President Nasheed even has a chance. Also I don’t see a reason he should even be given that chance,” he was reported to have said by newspaper Haveeru.

Dr Jameel was not responding to calls at time of press.

Incentive allegations

PPM MP Nihan said that alongside allegations that the president had been promising harbours to local councils to garner electoral support, the party had also received complaints that senior positions in government companies were also being offered to secure ballots ahead of September’s vote.

“Besides the harbours, there are attempts to try and influence voters. Maybe this is not the work of the president, but there may be strong people belonging to the GIP behind this,” he said.

Nihan said no decision had yet been taken over whether to formally review the PPM’s support of the present coalition government “in the near future”.

However, with the presidential election scheduled just over a month away on September 7, he did not rule out possible the potential for talks on the matter.

“Unofficial” Adhaalath talks

The PPM has also confirmed this week that it had held informal talks over potentially standing in a coalition with the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) for the election after retracting its support for President Waheed. Nihan said there had been no further progress on reaching an agreement.

He claimed that a PPM Council meeting held yesterday evening had not included discussions on forming a coalition “with any party” on its agenda. Nihan said the PPM  was presently involved in “unofficial negotiations” with AP “senior leadership”.