The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has condemned the sacking of State Minister for Health Ali Shareef yesterday (September 15), after the DRP council member voted in favour of endorsing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate – former President Mohamed Nasheed – in the second round run-off of the presidential election.
The DRP said in a press release yesterday that the reason stated by the President’s Office for dismissing Shareef was his vote in the party’s council meeting last week and his participation in the MDP’s campaign.
“The party does not believe that the DRP’s participation in Dr [Mohamed] Waheed’s government is a reason for not being able to engage in activities to gain support for the [candidate] the party supports,” the press release stated.
“The party notes that officials of Dr Waheed’s government belonging to different parties were not fired from their jobs while they were [campaigning] behind different presidential candidates.”
Former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, however, was also sacked from the cabinet by President Waheed two days after he was unveiled as the running mate of the Progressive Party of Maldives presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen in May.
Ali Shareef is currently campaigning for former President Nasheed in Haa Alif and Haa Dhaal atolls with Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid.
The DRP would not be intimidated by “constraints and threats,” the statement added, advising the current administration to “not step out of bounds during the short period left in government.”
President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding at the time of press.
Meanwhile, at a press conference yesterday, DRP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed – who defected to the government-aligned party from the MDP in March this year – slammed the decision to dismiss the state minister as “irresponsible” as Shareef was exercising his constitutional right to free expression and participation in political activities.
The MP for Haa Dhaal Nolhivaram noted that Education Minister Dr Asim Ahmed, also a DRP council member, was relieved of his duties as acting Foreign Minister on the day that the DRP council voted to endorse former President Nasheed.
“This is not something we can accept,” he said. “We will always have political differences of opinion. But we should be able to conduct affairs of the nation even with these differences of opinion.”
Sacked via SMS
The former state minister for health participated in the MDP rally on Friday night, which was attended by senior DRP members. MP Nasheed revealed that Shareef received a phone call from the President’s Office following his attendance at the rally and was “warned that he would be sacked if he participates in political activities.”
“But Ali Shareef is resolutely going forward. He was sacked via an SMS today [Sunday],” he said.
The DRP’s former coalition partner, Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP), has reportedly decided to back PPM candidate Yameen in the second round run-off on September 28.
President Waheed, backed by the GIP-DRP coalition, finished last in the September 7 presidential election with 5.13 percent of the popular vote or 10,750 votes – a figure significantly lower than the DRP’s 21,411 registered members.
In the wake of the election defeat, the DRP council on Thursday (September 12) voted 12-3 – with seven abstentions – to back the MDP candidate in the second round run-off. In a brief statement to the press following the council meeting, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said the party came to the conclusion that re-electing former President Nasheed was in the best interest of the nation and ensuring peace and stability as he would not pursue “political vengeance.”
The MP for Baa Atoll Kendhoo also participated in a campaign event in Vili-Male’ on Saturday night with MDP vice presidential candidate Musthafa Lutfi.
Addressing Vili-Male’ residents, Thasmeen reportedly said that bringing back the rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom by electing his half-brother Yameen would weaken the nascent democratic system ushered in by the 2008 constitution.
In his first speech at an MDP podium on Friday night, Thasmeen said he had decided to back Nasheed “because I want to see peace in this country after these elections, [and] because I want to see the democratic system strengthened and sustained.”
“I believe that it would be an irresponsible and cowardly act to back away from doing what must be done to ensure that democracy is upheld in this country due to some words I might have said in the past. And therefore, tonight I assure all of you that DRP will do everything we possibly can to help Nasheed win these elections,” he declared.