President Waheed to back PPM in second round, stepping down as GIP head

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP) will support the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) during a run-off vote to decide this year’s presidential election – presently scheduled to be held on September 28.

Minivan News understands that, although Dr Waheed will also be stepping down as head of the party, he will urge supporters to back PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rival, former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The announcement of the GIP backing the PPM, comes days after the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) announced its support for Nasheed and the MDP during the second round of voting.  The DRP had backed Waheed in the first round vote, with party Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali standing as the incumbent’s running mate.

President Waheed took 5.13 percent of the total votes cast on September 7, finishing in last place.

The poll is presently being contested within the courts over allegations of vote rigging by third-place candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim and the Jumhoree Party (JP), who secured 24.07 percent of ballots cast.

According to provisional Elections Commission (EC) results, PPM candidate Yameen narrowly secured his place in the second round with 25.35 percent of the votes cast.

Former President Nasheed led the poll with 45.45 percent of the popular vote – falling short of the 51 percent needed to secure the presidency during the first round.

A senior source within President Waheed’s campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity, today said that the incumbent would be personally lending his support to Yameen’s campaign along with the GIP, despite opting to step down as head of the party.

The same source claimed that should any aspects of the ballot be challenged by the party, including calls for a recount, it would be best to have President Waheed distance himself from such actions.

Minivan News was awaiting an official statement from the GIP at times of press.

“Worryingly serious” allegations

However, President Waheed was today quoted in local media as being concerned over “worryingly serious” allegations over the first round vote that he called to be addressed within the legal framework of the Maldives.

Despite expressing concerns over allegations raised by the JP , the president was also quoted in Sun Online as praising the election for being conducted “smoothly” and peacefully” earlier this month.

Waheed reportedly stated that he had decided to back Abdulla Yameen – half brother of the country’s autocratic former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – based on what he believed was the best interest for the Maldives.

“I do not believe it is not right [sic] to weaken the country’s constitutional framework, trample the law, set fire to property, instigate unrest,” read the statement reportedly attributed to the president.

Meanwhile, PPM vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed earlier this week declared that former President Mohamed Nasheed “will not be allowed to assume power”, even should he emerge as the clear winner in the run-off.

Clarifying his remarks to Minivan News at the time, Dr Jameel stated that his comments during the rally reflected the “criminal charge filed against Nasheed” concerning his role in the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, who stands accused of corruption and halting investigations into his conduct through the courts.

“As there is an impending [criminal] charge on him, he would be facing the outcome of the trial that would stop him from holding [the office of the president]. That is what I meant [at the rally],” Dr Jameel explained.

The JP meanwhile today confirmed that the party’s council and its coalition partners had not yet taken a decision on whether it would support a candidate in the second round of voting.

JP Policy Secretary Mohamed Ajmal said that the party remained focused solely on trying to prove via the courts that the first round vote had been “rigged”, adding that – although the party would consider supporting one of the two candidates in the final round – no such talks discussions had been held at present.