Preliminary PPM primary results roll in

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has announced preliminary results for eight constituencies in Malé in ongoing primaries to determine candidates for the People’s Majlis election.

The governing coalition had allocated 49 out of 85 seats for the PPM. Candidates in 13 constituencies won the party ticket by default, and an additional five candidates were awarded the ticket after their contenders failed to gain more than 75 percent in the vetting process.

The PPM is to hold primaries for the remaining six constituencies today.

In Malé, state owned Maldives Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) reporter that Aishath Liza won the ticker for the Medhuhenveiru constituency. Film producer and writer Fathimath Nahla defeated footballer Ali Umar to win the ticket for Machangoalhi Uthuru.

TV presenter Aminath Namza lost the Galholhu Uthuru constituency to Maheel Ali Jaleel.

Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmed Rifau ‘Bochey’ won the Maafannu Dhekunu ticket against footballer Shah Ismail.

Asma Rasheed won the Maafannu Medhu constituency against Deputy Home Minister Mohamed Hanim – Asma is the mother of Minister of Presidential Affairs Mohamed Hussein Shareef.

Former goalkeeper of VB Sports Club Mohamed Sinan won the Maafannu Hulhangu ticket, while Hassan Ziyath won the Hulhuhenveiru ticket. Abdulla Shinan won the Machangoalhi Dhekunu primary.

The PPM is yet to announce results for 17 constituencies, but results circulating on social media indicate incumbent MP for Thimarafushi constituency Mohamed Shareef successfully defended the party ticket.

However, MP Mohamed Rasheed (Matrix Mode) who recently defected from the opposition  to the PPM appears to have lost the Addu City Hithadhoomedhu ticket to former MP ‘Hiyalee’ Mohamed Rasheed.

In southern Addu city, Ali Ibrahim won the Hithadhoo Uthuru ticket and Mohamed Shahid won the Hulhudhoo ticket. Ali Ibrahim won the ticket for Hithadhoo Uthuru.

The Fuvahmulah Atoll Council President Ali Fazad won the Fuvahmulahmedhu ticket.

PPM lawyer Mohamed Waheed won the ticket for the Kaafu Atoll Thulusdhoo constituency against Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Naif Shaukath.

Mohamed Latheef won the Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Faresmathoda constituency against Deputy Home Minister Ahmed Siddiq. Saud Hussein won the Gaaf Alif Atoll Villingili ticket and Abdulla Mohamed won the Gaaf Dhaal Madaveli primary.

Ahmed Thoriq won the Felidhoo ticket while Jameel Usman won the Gemanafushi ticket. Abdulla Nazim won the Hinnavaru ticket and Jaufar Dawood won the Raa Atoll Ungoofaaru ticket.

The JP has assigned candidates for all 28 seats without primaries. All eight incumbent MPs as well as former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz have received the party ticket.

The MDA held primaries in late January for two of the nine constituencies reserved for the party. The party ticket was awarded to two incumbent MPs and a further two candidates won the ticket by default.

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also announced it will field five candidates in constituencies reserved for the JP.

The AP has condemned the coalition’s decision to exclude the party from the constituency allocation.


Voting ongoing in PPM primaries

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has begun primaries for 25 parliamentary constituencies today.

Voting is proceeding smoothly in Malé at Dharubaaruge, Thajuddeen School, Malé City Hall and the PPM’s ally Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) party offices, PPM Secretary General Mohamed Zuhair said.

Over 2,700 members had registered to vote in Malé, Zuhair said, adding that the only complaints the party had received so far related to registration.

Parties in the ruling coalition allocated 49 of the 85 People’s Majlis seats to the PPM, 28 seats to the Jumhooree Party (JP) and nine seats to the MDA.

The party ticket was initially awarded to 13 candidates due to a lack of contestants. The 13 included eight incumbent MPs.

Over 150 candidates applied to contest the remaining 36 constituencies. But only 92 candidates were chosen for the primaries.

Applicants were graded on a six point criteria that included the extent to which candidates uphold party ideology, the length and type of service to the party, experience in parliament and participation in the presidential campaign.

Only candidates who received over 75 points were allowed to contest.

Five candidates – including four incumbent MPs – were awarded the party ticket on Friday after their competitors failed to meet the 75 percent threshold.

The PPM said it will hold primaries for the remaining six constituencies tomorrow.

Vilimaafannu MP Ahmed Nihan who won the party ticket by default said some members had complained of the party leadership favoring one candidate over the other.

“Holding primaries is not easy. For any party. But I do not expect any major issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, local media have reported conflict has emerged between the PPM and MDA over the Gahdhoo constituency. The seat was initially allocated to the MDA, but the party decided not to field a candidate and to instead back incumbent MP Zahir Adam.

Zahir was recently suspended from opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) after he violated a three-line whip and voted for President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet in December.

Following MDA’s decision not to contest the Gahdhoo constituency, PPM called for applicants for primaries. According to local media, the MDA has ordered the PPM to retract the announcement.

Polls will close at 10:00pm tonight.

Applications must be submitted to the Elections Commission by February 11. Parliamentary elections are set for March 22.


Civil Court rules in favour of PPM over contested primary results

The Civil Court today ruled in favour of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in a case filed by former PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, challenging the outcome of the party’s presidential primary in March 2013 in which he lost to the party’s parliamentary group leader, MP Abdulla Yameen.

Umar sought invalidation of the primary results on the grounds that 8,915 people who were not officially registered as PPM members had been allowed to vote in violation of the Political Parties Act.

In the verdict (Dhivehi) delivered this afternoon, Civil Court Judge Aisha Shujoon ruled that a decision by the PPM strategic planning committee to not omit from the official registry names of members who changed parties during the period from December 1, 2012 to February 28, 2013 was unlawful.

However, she noted, Umar Naseer did not submit any evidence to prove to the court that registered members of other political parties voted in the PPM primary.

Moreover, as the Political Parties Act did not clearly specify procedures for members to register with a party, Shujoon noted that PPM members whose forms had been accepted by the party and listed in the membership rolls could participate in the primary, despite their forms not being processed by the Elections Commission (EC) and entered into the official registry.

The judge also noted that despite a provision in the PPM’s charter or regulations for the party’s election committee to make the list of eligible voters public two weeks before voting, the list was not released in accordance with the PPM’s charter.

However, as Umar Naseer did not lodge an official complaint using the party’s internal mechanisms, the court believed that “Umar Naseer did not have any complaints regarding the matter and even though it happened, it did so with Umar Naseer’s consent.”

Based on the procedural points raised by both sides during the trial, Judge Shujoon ruled that there were no legal grounds to grant Umar’s request to invalidate the primary.

According to newspaper Haveeru, Shujoon said after reading out the verdict that the court believed there were irregularities in the PPM primary, but explained that the case was concluded based on relevant procedural issues and available evidence.

Prior to submission of the case, Umar was dismissed from the PPM on April 27 this year after levelling serious allegations against PPM presidential candidate MP Abdulla Yameen at a rally held shortly after he was defeated in the primary.

The rally was organised without the approval of the PPM council, which contended that it was held in violation of the party’s rules mandating support for the presidential candidate after the primary.

Umar went ahead with the rally despite pleas for unity by the party’s leader and figurehead, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, half-brother of the primary winner.

Umar alleged at the rally that primary winner Yameen was backed by the Gayoom family and the PPM parliamentary group, controlled all of the party’s organs, including the council and election committee, and had “rigged” the primary by ballot stuffing, falsifying the count and “pouring black money” to buy votes.

He further alleged that criminal gangs, convicts and drug smuggling “networks” were part of Yameen’s campaign team.

“Less than 24 hours after my brother Abdulla Yameen won the primary, the foremost person in the Maldives’ corruption network, Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis Ahmed Nazim joined the PPM,” Umar said, declaring that he would not back Yameen if he contests the September presidential election with “corrupt people” in his team.

Yameen meanwhile denied the accusations, while the PPM later asked Umar to apologise for his remarks or face disciplinary action.

According to local media reports, supporters of Umar Naseer have been joining business magnate Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party (JP) and campaigning for the JP presidential candidate. Among the high-profile defections from Umar’s camp following the disputed primary was PPM MP Ilham Ahmed, also a deputy leader of the party, who joined the JP in April this year.


Prepared to go “to any depth” to win 2013 presidential elections: PPM presidential candidate

Winner of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s presidential primary and now the party’s official Presidential Candidate MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said that he is willing “to go any depths” necessary in order to secure a PPM victory in the 2013 Presidential Elections, scheduled for September 7.

The remark was made in a statement released by Yameen following his victory in PPM’s presidential primary.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half brother was selected as the party’s presidential candidate on Saturday (March 30) in a landslide victory in the party’s presidential primary, securing 63 percent of the vote.  The preliminary results revealed Yameen had won the election with a total of 13,096 votes, while his sole competitor Umar Naseer received just 7,450 votes – a margin of 5,646 votes.

Yameen – who is also the PPM’s parliamentary group leader – in his victory statement said that he would remain “firm and determined” in protecting the “faith and trust” placed in him by the party members.

“The decision that you beloved people have made is a very important decision that concerns the future of both PPM and the Maldivian soil,” read Yameen’s statement. “All of you party members have placed a huge trust and faith in me. By the will of Allah, I am ever more determined to protect that trust and faith you have placed in me. I have rolled up my sleeves and am prepared to serve PPM and this beloved nation.”

The PPM parliamentary group leader also promised to work towards broadening the party in terms of membership through membership drives and campaigns.

He also appealed to  Umar Naseer whom he referred to as “fellow brother”, asking him to “not let down your courage in despair” and to join him side by side to work on establishing a PPM government by winning the presidential elections.

“As you would all know, this is the time in which the PPM should unite as one and start working in spirit to win the upcoming presidential elections. I am with all you party members, prepared to make any sacrifices required to ensure that PPM wins the presidential elections 2013,” the statement added.

Umar Naseer’s team pledge to back Yameen

Following the election results, Yameen’s presidential rival Umar Naseer accepted defeat and congratulated Yameen on his election victory.

“If it’s a free and fair election, I will always accept the final result. I believe so far the election has been fair. As I said we will know how to proceed once we assess the complaints,” Naseer told local newspaper Haveeru.

“The party won’t be divided. I believe this will further strengthen the party as this exercise shows the strength of democracy within this party,” he added.

Speaking to local media outlet CNM, Umar Naseer’s Campaign Manager Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem said that Umar’s team would back Yameen and was prepared to work together with him.

“This is something like a practice match played by two groups of one football team. During the practice match, players will tackle and they will even score goals. However, when you face a tournament, the team comes out as one to compete with other teams. This is something like that,” he said.

Saleem stated that the team had received some complaints during the voting period, and that these complaints were forwarded to those in charge of holding the elections. However, Saleem added that it was no longer an issue and that “the primary is over now”.

Saleem – who is a close aide of Umar Naseer – also earlier claimed that he personally doubted the fairness of the election claiming that Yameen had attempted to create disruptions at the polling stations by sending “groups of thugs”.

During the time of voting, local TV station Raajje TV captured a brief scuffle on camera between supporters of the two presidential primary candidates.

The footage shows police being brought in to control the crowd, who are dressed in the party’s pink colour scheme.

Yameen told local media shortly after casting his vote outside the Aminiya School in Male’ that despite the minor conflicts, the party would not split.

“Overall, the voting is alright. But people from within the party have entered voting centres and have tried to start fights,” he was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

“They have raised they voices, used foul language, this should not happen in an internal election. It is very sad.”

PPM’s elections committee has said that the party will announce the official results of the election within a week’s time.  Chair of PPM’s Election Committee, Mohamed Tholal said that the election took place in a very peaceful environment and the voting proceeded very swiftly.

Meanwhil,e former President of the Maldives and PPM president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, called for PPM members to show the world what a “responsible party” the PPM was during Saturday’s primary.

Gayoom also said following the elections that he would work with PPM members to see its candidate win the presidential election.


“Yameen and myself are the two likely candidates in PPM primary”: Umar Naseer

Interim Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has said that he and Parliamentary Group Leader MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom are the most likely candidates to contest the party’s primary elections scheduled for February 2013.

The presidential Primary of the PPM is scheduled to take place after its congress.  Since its formation in October 2011, the government-aligned PPM has postponed its national congress on three occasions, despite having a charter of regulations stipulating that a congress must be held within six months of registration.

In October this year, local daily Haveeru reported that that the party cited “political turmoil” as the reason for the delays.

Naseer’s remarks about standing in the upcoming party primaries comes at a time when current interim leader of PPM, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has also highlighted the possibility of his running for re-election.

Both Naseer and Yameen Abdul Gayoom was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom told Indian newspaper The Hindu yesterday (December 11) that he may consider contesting in a presidential election presently expected to be held in August or September next year.

“Things change very frequently. So I am keeping my options open,” Gayoom was quoted as saying. “[If I run] it won’t be out of my choice, if ever, it will be out of compulsion. Because I feel I have served the country for 30 years and I feel it is up to other people [now].” Gayoom reiterated that he preferred not to run.

Speaking to local Newspaper Haveeru about the comments, Umar Naseer said that Gayoom had the right to contest for re-election in the next presidential elections – a decision he believed would make the country’s former autocratic ruler the “obvious top candidate” to finish the race.

“I would definitely back Gayoom if he is to contest the elections. He is our ‘ace of spades’. You cannot say that the ace of spades is not the ace of spades,” he said.

Naseer suggested that if Gayoom ruled out his intention to “come back to power”, it would undermine potential public excitement ahead of the primary vote.

“If he says he won’t contest the elections that would mean the ace of spades becoming two of diamonds, doesn’t it?” he added.

Umar Naseer previously contested the 2008 presidential election under the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) and was defeated after winning just 1.39 percent of the vote in the first round – a total of 2,472 votes. Following the defeat, Naseer at the time refused to support another candidate.

President Waheed

Local media and senior politicians have previously speculated that President Mohamed Waheed Hassan could also be a potential PPM candidate to stand in next year’s general elections.

However, Gayoom, in his most recent interview with the Hindu newspaper, suggested that such a development could only happen if the president joined his party.

Gayoom has previously welcomed the prospect of President Waheed competing in a primary for the party’s ticket.

“The president, or anyone else, can join PPM if they want, and if they win the [party’s] primary, they will become our presidential candidate,” he said at the time.

PPM Deputy Naseer has himself echoed similar sentiments about the possibility of the president standing for the PPM whilst speaking at a rally in May.  The comments were made despite previous statements that President Waheed would not stand for re-election.

“Second term”

President Waheed himself, in an interview given to the Hindu, said that he was “contemplating” running for a “second term” in office, but said that a final decision on the matter would be taken at a later date.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed – who defeated Gayoom in the 2008 presidential election with 54 percent of the vote to Gayoom’s 45 percent – said at a rally last month that he believed President Waheed will become PPM’s presidential candidate with Gayoom’s backing.

Nasheed alleged that his former vice president held secret consultations with the PPM figurehead before the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7.

“Dr Waheed has been scheming with President Maumoon for about two years, that I know of,” he said. “Sometimes in an uninhabited island in Baa Atoll, other times in Alivaage [Gayoom’s former residence]. They have been discussing and talking in different places. Anyone who thinks of carrying out a coup d’etat will know that one thing you need for it is a disloyal vice president.”

Uncertainty remains over what potential plans President Waheed may have for the elections presently scheduled for next year.

President of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) Sheikh Imran Abdulla has previously called on all government-aligned political parties to unite and back a single candidate, preferably President Waheed as an ‘umbrella-candidate’.


Dr Waheed will be PPM presidential candidate, predicts former President Nasheed

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik will become the presidential candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) with the backing of its leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, former President Mohamed Nasheed has predicted.

Speaking at a rally in Shaviyani Foakaidhoo on Saturday night during the on-going ‘Journey of Pledges’ northern tour, Nasheed alleged that his former vice president held secret consultations with PPM interim leader and figurehead, former President Gayoom, before the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7.

“Dr Waheed has been scheming with President Maumoon for about two years, that I know of,” Nasheed said. “Sometimes in an uninhabited island in Baa Atoll, other times in Alivaage [Gayoom’s former residence]. They have been discussing and talking in different places. Anyone who thinks of carrying out a coup d’etat will know that one thing you need for it is a disloyal vice president.”

Nasheed noted that the post of vice president was not included in the old constitution that was twice revised during Gayoom’s 30-year rule.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate reiterated his allegation that Gayoom orchestrated a “coup d’etat through Dr Waheed” on February 7.

A week before Nasheed’s resignation in the wake of riot police assaulting MDP members and ransacking the party’s meeting hall followed by a police mutiny at Republic Square, Dr Waheed met with opposition politicians at his official residence at 1:00am, after which they pledged allegiance to the then-vice president and called on the security forces not to obey then-President Nasheed.

“In my view, Maumoon is trying to make Dr Waheed PPM’s presidential candidate,” Nasheed said on Saturday night.

He added that Gayoom’s intention was to rule by proxy, alluding to a sultan who wielded power through a sibling on the throne while residing in Egypt.

Nasheed suggested that PPM’s presidential primary was being pushed back because PPM parliamentary group leader, presidential hopeful and half-brother of Gayoom, Abdulla Yameen, would not accept Waheed becoming the party’s candidate.

Addressing party members at a rally on Thursday night to celebrate PPM’s first anniversary, Yameen reportedly claimed that PPM was the only party within the ruling coalition that was defending the government and expressed disappointment with the coalition becoming “fractured.”

Nexbis deal

Yameen also called on the government to “immediately” terminate the controversial border control system agreement with Malaysian company Nexbis and contended that the project was detrimental to the state.

The parliament’s minority leader also criticised the government’s hesitancy to cancel the agreement despite the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (AAC’s) findings of alleged corruption in the deal.

Local media meanwhile reported that parliament’s Finance Committee decided during a closed-door session on Thursday to instruct the executive to halt the project. The decision would however have to be approved through a vote on the Majlis floor following consideration of a report by the committee.

In September, the ACC informed the committee that the deal would cost the Maldives MVR 2.5 billion (US$162 million) in potential lost revenue over the lifetime of the contract.

Following its investigation into alleged corruption in awarding of the contract to Nexbis, the ACC requested the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) press criminal charges against former Controller of Immigration Ilyas Hussain, brother-in-law of President Waheed.

Almost a year after the case was forwarded to the PGO however, no charges have been pressed against the former immigration chief to date. The ACC alleged that Ilyas Hussain had abused his authority for undue financial gain.

Ilyas – a senior member of Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ihtihad Party (GIP) – was transferred from the post under President Nasheed when the corruption allegations first surfaced.

His successor Abdulla Shahid expressed concern over both the cost and necessity of the project, calculating that with continued growth in tourist numbers Nexbis would be earning US$200 million in revenue over the 20 year lifespan of the agreement.

Following Dr Waheed’s swearing-in as president on February 7, Ilyas was reappointed controller of immigration. He was however replaced in May with Dr Mohamed Ali and appointed State Minister for Defence.

Former President Nasheed meanwhile alleged in his speech on Saturday that Dr Waheed’s GIP’s Deputy Leader Mohamed ‘Nazaki’ Zaki was complicit in the corrupt dealings in his role as Ambassador to Malaysia.

“Before the [border control] system was established, before there was even a contract in effect, I later heard that equipment was kept in some warehouses in Male’,” he said, claiming that the warehouses were owned by Nazaki Zaki.

Nasheed added that he “agreed completely with Yameen” that the allegations should be investigated.

Delayed congress

Meanwhile, PPM announced in October that its first national congress has been postponed for a third time. The party’s charter however stipulates that a congress must be held within six months of its formation to elect leaders, after which a primary would take place to select a candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

Local daily Haveeru reported a source within the party citing “political turmoil” as the reason for the delay.

The party held its inaugural convention in October 2011.

Meanwhile, in August, Waheed told the Hindu during a visit to Sri Lanka that he was “contemplating” running for office in 2013.

“What I have said is that our administration supports the earliest date for Presidential elections allowed under the Constitution. That in my mind will be July, 2013. I am hoping that the election will be at that time,” he was quoted as saying.

In the same month, former President Gayoom publicly welcomed the prospect of Dr Waheed competing in a primary for the party’s ticket.

In May, PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer told local media that Dr Waheed could potentially become the party’s presidential candidate. Naseer however claimed earlier that Waheed would not stand for re-election.

Dr Waheed is currently leader of the GIP, which has no representation in either the People’ Majlis or local councils and just 2,515 registered members, according to the latest figures from the Elections Commission (EC).

By comparison, PPM currently has 17,486 members and is the minority party in parliament. The party has also won nine out of 12 by-elections held since its inception last year.

Speaking at the PPM rally last week, Gayoom urged senior leaders of the party to be mindful of the party’s unity during the upcoming primary. The party’s national congress is now scheduled for January 2013.

NasheedIn his speech, Nasheed meanwhile urged MDP members to begin the presidential campaign with the consideration that PPM’s candidate will be Dr Waheed with Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Leader Dr Hassan Saeed as his running mate.

“This is how I see the picture,” he said. “I am someone who tries to study how President Maumoon does thing. I don’t believe that things could transpire differently after this.”

Nasheed went on to say that the MDP would “easily” beat Dr Waheed as the PPM’s presidential candidate in 2013.

The former President observed that PPM’s strength was in “small islands” and the “the smaller the island, the more support it has,” which was akin to “a disease” that causes the tormented to defe the tormenter.

However, Nasheed noted that in the local council elections in February 2011, MDP won nine out of 11 seats in the Male’ City Council, all six seats in the Addu City Council and made clean sweeps of a number of larger inhabited islands such as Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal atoll and Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.