President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has stated that he is considering contesting in the upcoming presidential elections “in view of the current achievements and the general reading [he] gets from the public,” adding, however, that “much work has still to be done during the next few months.”
Although the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has previously stated that Waheed could contest as the party’s candidate if he became a member, local media has recently reported that Waheed is considering running through his own 3217-member strong Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP).
GIP has recently announced that it is seeking to form coalitions with other political parties.
“Democracy is in its infancy [in the Maldives]. Despite a few hiccups, I am very optimistic about our democratic future,” Waheed stated in an interview with AFP, one year following the contentious transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
Waheed, who was Vice President during the previous administration, was sworn in as President after former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned following street protests and a police mutiny.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has maintained that the transfer of power was brought about through a coup d’etat. However, the Commission of National Inquiry(CNI), a Commonwealth-backed inquiry established by Waheed, concluded that the transfer of power was legal.
The credibility of the CNI report is now being challenged by parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee, after six of the country’s most senior police and military intelligence figures testified that none of their evidence was included in the final report. All six have since been suspended or dismissed.
Nasheed, again the presidential candidate of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has an ongoing trial against him for the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed. The MDP contend that the charges are a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting the election.
According to AFP, Waheed said his full year in office was “marked by ‘inclusiveness’, while rejecting opposition claims that he was stifling individual freedoms and had become a hostage of Islamic extremists.”
During the past year, Waheed has ratified the “Freedom of Peaceful Assembly” bill, which redefines limitations on assembly and political gatherings.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor previously alleged that the ratification of the said bill was “a direct response to the MDP’s proposed revolution.”
“We are not happy with this bill, and on principle alone we are against it. The current government feels the need to restrict freedom of expression and unwind the democratic gains of this country,” Ghafoor alleged.
“As our honeymoon with democracy nears its end, I am convinced that a new model for true democracy will glow from these islands,” Waheed said.
In response to Waheed’s remarks, Ghafoor said that Waheed seemed to be in “a state of total denial.”
“Waheed became president through a coup d’etat, completely wrecked our economy, made a pact with the Islamists, caused foreign investors to lose confidence, and inflation is rocketing. He has done everything a liberal democratic leader would never do,” Ghafoor alleged.
Correction: An earlier version on this article mistakenly reported that GIP has 2099 members. The party has 3217 members.