Yameen elected as PPM presidential candidate

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen has been elected as the party’s presidential candidate to compete in the upcoming national elections.

The preliminary results of the PPM’s presidential primary reveal that Yameen won with a total of 13,096 votes, beating rival candidate Umar Naseer’s 7,450 votes – a 63 percent majority, according figures quoted by local media.

A total of 31,298 PPM members were eligible to vote in the party’s presidential primary through one of the 167 ballot boxes placed in 140 islands, Sun Online reported.

Umar Naseer accepted defeat: “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,” he told 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.”

Former President of the Maldives and PPM President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom congratulated his half-brother, Yameen, via Twitter following the announcement of the results.

Gayoom had urged party members to take part in Saturday’s election, despite not casting a vote himself in order to remain “neutral”.

During the voting period on Saturday (March 30), Yameen told local media that certain party members had been seen inside voting centres in Male’ using foul language in an attempt to start fights and create disorder.

Private media outlet Raajje TV captured a brief scuffle on camera between supporters of the two presidential primary candidates Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen.

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.

“They have raised they voices, used foul language, this should not happen in an internal election. It is very sad,” Yameen was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

On Friday (March 29), Yameen’s half brother, 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 is during Saturday’s primary.

Slanderous accusations

The recent internal disorder among rival supporters follows a month of increasingly heated rhetoric between the two presidential candidates.

Earlier this month, Yameen responded to several accusations made against him, claiming the “stories” to be untrue.

“I have been accused of holding large sums of money in different accounts. I’m not responding to these allegations. But the people who work with me need public confidence.

“I want to say to you, that there are several allegations targeted at me. But those allegations are baseless and unfounded. None of those stories are true. Don’t believe them,” Yameen was quoted as saying in local media.

A spokesperson for Abdulla Yameen’s ‘Yageen’ campaign team told local media on March 23 that Umar Naseer had made slanderous and “blatantly untruthful” statements about Yameen during a recent rally.

Speaking at the aforementioned rally, Naseer claimed that Yameen’s campaign team is forced to play “80 percent in defence” in order to denounce the public’s claims against him.

“We heard our brother MP [Ahmed] Nihan speaking at Yameen’s campaign rally. All he did was try to denounce what the public says about Yameen,” Naseer said at a rally held on March 15.

“Nihan said that although people allege Yameen has ties with gangs and gang violence it is not true. He said that although people say Yameen bathes with mineral water, that isn’t true either.”

An MP is trying to frame me: Umar Naseer

Earlier in March, Naseer claimed that he had received “intel” that an attempt would be made to “assassinate” his character by planting illegal substances in his offices.

Following Naseer’s initial claims, he told supporters at a rally on March 15 that an MP involved in the illegal drug business was attempting to “frame him”.

“[The MP] tried to ruin my reputation by sending police to my business offices in the pretence of looking for illegal substances. I do not get involved in such acts.

“I will not name the MP, I do not need to name him here. He is trying to hide the relations he has with gangs and his involvement in the illegal drug business.”

On March 17, a police source told Minivan News that a bottle of alcohol had been found in a car belonging to Naseer’s wife when searched by police.

Despite Umar Naseer’s comments, former President Gayoom tweeted earlier this month that external influences were attempting to split Yameen and Umar apart.

“Some people from outside PPM are trying hard to drive a wedge between Yameen and Umar. All PPM members please be alert to this,” Gayoom tweeted.


Will increase PPM membership to 65,000 if elected: Yameen

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential primary candidate Abdulla Yameen has claimed he will increase the party’s membership to 65,000 before the September elections.

According to figures from the Elections Commission, PPM has a total of 22,765 members as of February, meaning that Yameen will have to increase the party’s membership by 37,235 in just six months to reach his target.

Speaking at a campaign rally on Sunday (March 24), Yameen said that on  request of his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, he had worked to increase the party’s membership since it was first established, local media reported.

“If you give us assurance from the vote on the 30th, by the time we reach the presidential election, with more effort and without show of any fatigue, by August I will increase our party’s count from 31,000 to 60,000 or 65,000, God willing,” Yameen was quoted as saying in SunOnline.

The presidential primary candidate claimed that PPM is the most legitimate of political parties as fingerprints are recorded when registering members to the party.

According to local media, Gayoom’s children made an appearance at Sunday’s rally in order to show support for Yameen.

In a display of solidarity, Dhunya Maumoon, Farish Maumoon, Gassan Maumoon and Yumna’s husband Mohamed Nadheem went on stage to hold hands with Yameen, local media reported.

PPM’s former Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla reportedly told the audience that because Gayoom’s children supported Yameen, it would be a reason to vote for him.

Both Yameen and Umar Naseer are competing in the PPM presidential primary on March 30.


33 islands will not receive ballot boxes for PPM presidential primary election

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has decided 33 islands in the Maldives will not receive ballot boxes for its upcoming presidential primary election.

PPM Election Committee Member Mohamed Tholal told local media on Tuesday (March 19) that islands with less than 18 PPM will not receive the ballot boxes.

Local media reported that PPM members who reside within the 33 islands not chosen to receive a ballot box will still be able to vote at islands where the ballot boxes are placed.

According to local media, the islands chosen to not receive the ballot boxes are Haa Alif Mulhadhoo, Haa Alif Thurakunu, Shaviyani Kan’ditheem, Shaviyani Maaun’gudhoo, Shaviyani Maroshi, Shaviyani Noomaraa, Noonu Kudafaree, Shaviyani An’golhitheem, Raa Fainu, Baa Dhonfanu, Baa Fehendhoo, Baa Goidhoo, Baa Hithaadhoo, Baa Kamadhoo, Baa Kihaadhoo, Baa Kudarikilu, Alif Alif Feridhoo, Alif Alif Maalhos, Alif Dhaalu Dhigurah, Alif Dhaalu Fenfushi, Alif Dhaalu Kun’burudhoo, Alif Dhaalu Mandhoo, Alif Dhaalu Dhidhdhoo, Vaavu Keyodhoo, Vaavu Rakeedhoo, Vaavu Thinadhoo, Meemu Raiymandhoo, Faafu Magoodhoo, Dhaalu Ban’didhoo, Dhaalu Hulhudheli, Dhaalu Maaen’boodhoo, Dhaalu Meedhoo and Laamu Gaadhoo.

The PPM Election Committee has announced a total of 172 ballot boxes will be placed in 148 islands for its primary elections.

Both Abdulla Yameen and Umar Naseer are competing for presidential primary scheduled for March 30.


PPM opens applications for presidential primary

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has called for applications of those wishing to compete in the party’s presidential primary.

Application submissions opened yesterday (February 18) and will continue until February 28.

The party’s elections committee member Mohamed Tholal told local media that members included in the party’s registry will be eligible to vote in the primary.

“Starting today, we have opened applications for those who want to compete in the party’s presidential primary. The applications will be handed and collected from the main party office, from today until 3:30pm on February 28,” Tholal said.


PPM council elected at party’s first ever congress

Key positions within the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) were filled this weekend during elections at the party’s first ever congress.

Twelve out of the fourteen seats of PPM’s council were won by party members aligned with MP Abdulla Yameen, who is competing for the party’s presidential primary against interim Vice President of PPM, Umar Nasser.

Yameen’s half brother, former President of the Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was appointed PPM President after being the only candidate nominated for the post.

Yameen was also appointed Parliamentary Group Leader. Both Yameen and Gayoom were appointed to their respective positions without a vote, as no one else contested against them.

Gayoom’s daughter, Dhunya Maumoon was selected as PPM’s Women Branch President and Abdul Raheem Abdullah was appointed Deputy Leader of PPM Parliamentary Group Leader, also without contest.

Gayoom’s son, Faris Maumoon secured the highest number of votes by a single candidate at 419, while his other son, Ghassan Maumoon received 416 votes.

PPM Vice Presidency

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb and PPM Parliamentary Group Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed were elected as the first vice presidents of PPM.

Local media reported the temporary results of the secret votes taken at PPM congress show that Adheeb received 361 out of 400 votes.

Ilham received 301 votes while Raheem – who was later appointed as Deputy Leader of PPM Parliamentary Group Leader – received 268 votes.

The temporary results have not yet been officially announced at the congress, which is taking place at Darubaaruge, Malé.

PPM Council Member and lead activist of Umar Naseer’s presidential primary campaign team, Ibrahim Nazim was elected as President of PPM’s youth group.

Aminath Nadhaa was elected as vice president of the party’s youth group with 40 votes in favour.

PPM formed due to actions of Nasheed: Gayoom

Former autocratic ruler Gayoom, who presided over the Maldives for thirty years, said that PPM was formed due to the actions of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government, local media reported.

Speaking during the PPM congress, the Gayoom claimed that government accountability was largely reduced during Nasheed’s presidency and assaults had become “commonplace”, Sun Online reported.

Gayoom added that PPM took part in the demonstrations held between 2011 and 2012 and that they are now part of the multi-party coalition that was formed following Nasheed’s controversial removal from power in February 2012, local media stated.

Under the ‘multi-party coalition’ that has since taken control of the country, a new bill enforcing limitations on such demonstrations and protests was recently ratified by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

In a joint statement from local NGOs Transparency Maldives (TM) and Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) this month (January 2), it warned that the bill posed “serious challenges to the whole democratic system”.

The statement claimed that the bill could restrict the constitutional right to freedom of assembly (article 32), freedom of expression (article 27) and press freedom (article 28).

Speaking at the congress on Friday, Gayoom urged candidates who lost out, not to feel disheartened as the ‘opportunity to serve the nation was still available’, local media reported.

“Don’t think of it as an obstacle. The future is in your hands. The chance to serve the party and nation will become available,” the former President was quoted as saying in local newspaper Haveeru.


Yameen Abdul Gayoom identifies youth and economy as key focus for primary campaign

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said that “youth” and the “economy” will be the key focus of his campaign to stand as presidential candidate for his party in general elections scheduled for next year.

Yameen, half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, told Minivan News today that as he prepared to launch his campaign for the PPM Presidential Primary – expected to be held early next year – no decision was as yet taken on a potential running mate should he win.

“There is still time for that. All will be done in good time,” he said via SMS, without elaborating further on his presidential aspirations.

Yameen also did not comment on whether he would continue to contest in the primaries in the event former President Gayoom also opted to stand.

The presidential Primary of the PPM is scheduled to take place after its long-delayed national congress, which is presently scheduled between January 17 to January 19, 2013.

Volunteer drive

Yameen’s comments were made as PPM Interim Vice President Umar Naseer was reported in local media as yesterday (December 22) holding his own ceremony to try to recruit 300 volunteers from the party’s 17,900 strong membership to assist with his own primary campaign.

Local newspaper Haveeru quoted Umar as claiming that some 250 volunteers signed up for his campaign last night.

“Last night, I actually didn’t inform my full support base. Last night we only carried out the process of recruiting volunteers, identifying what they can do, signing and filling of cards,” he was quoted as saying.

Local media also reported Umar as opting to use a “palm logo” previously adopted by former President Gayoom – interim PPM President – for his campaigning.

“Even if the palm did not win back then, Insha Allah this time it will,” he was reported to have told Haveeru.

Umar was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

Likely candidates

Earlier this month, Umar claimed that he and MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom were seen as the most likely candidates to contest the PPM’s primary elections scheduled for February 2013, following the party’s upcoming congress.

However, other key figures have yet to rule themselves out of the running, most notably former president Gayoom himself, who told Indian newspaper The Hindu on 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].”

Speaking to local media at the time, 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.

Despite his current support, Umar Naseer, in an interview with Al Jazeera in November 2007 alongside (now) former President Mohamed Nasheed and then-Information Minister Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, stated that Gayoom had “failed” in running the country and urged him to step down.

“The best thing for the Maldives at the moment is for Mr Gayoom to step down,” Naseer said. “He has failed in all areas. As far as education is concerned, he has failed. Security he has failed. Corruption, he has failed. All these areas, he has failed. He must step down,” Naseer said, speaking then as President of his own Islamic Democratic Party (IDP).

Beyond Gayoom, local media and senior politicians have previously speculated that President Dr 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.


Gayoom may contest 2013 presidential election

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, interim leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), has signalled that he may run for the presidency in 2013.

Gayoom told Indian newspaper The Hindu yesterday (December 11) that he may consider contesting in a presidential election expected 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 however insisted that he preferred not to run.

Since its formation in October 2011, the government-aligned PPM has postponed its national congress on three occasions, despite the party’s charter or regulations stipulating that a congress must be held within six months of registration.

The party held its inaugural convention in October 2011.

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

Gayoom meanwhile told The Hindu that the party’s presidential primary will take place in February after the national congress currently scheduled for January 2013.

“Asked if current President Mohamed Waheed stood a chance to be nominated by PPM as its candidate for presidency, Mr Gayoom said that this can only be decided after Dr Waheed joins the PPM,” The Hindu reported.

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.”

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.

Naseer, along with PPM parliamentary group leader and brother of its interim leader, MP Abdulla Yameen, are the only two candidates that have announced their intention to compete in the primary.

Naseer has however said that he would not compete against former President Gayoom.

Dr Waheed meanwhile is currently leader of the GIP, which has no representation in either the People’ Majlis or local councils and just 3,170 registered members, according to the latest figures from the Elections Commission (EC).

By comparison, PPM currently has 17,111 members and is the minority party in parliament. The party has also won ten out of 13 by-elections held since its inception last year.

Speaking at a PPM rally last month, Gayoom urged senior leaders of the party to be mindful of the party’s unity during their campaigns for the upcoming primary.

At a press conference in September 2011, where the formation of the PPM was announced, Gayoom refused to rule out a presidential bid, stressing that he had not made a decision and would do so “when the time comes.”

“My answer is that the time [for a primary] has not come and we’ll know when it does,” he said after being asked repeatedly by reporters if he intended to run again.

On whether his role as leader of the new party contradicted an announcement in February 2010 that he was retiring from active politics, Gayoom said he made the decision based on the assurance that the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) would function “according to certain principles.”

Gayoom left the DRP to form the PPM following an acrimonious split within the DRP and a public spat with his successor and former vice-presidential candidate, DRP Leader and MP for Baa Atoll Kendhoo Ahmed Thasmeen Ali

“At the time and even up till yesterday, I was at the most senior post of one of the largest political parties in the country,” he said. “So how can it be said that the person in the highest post of a political party is not involved in politics? Up till yesterday I was in politics. Today I am forced to create a new party because of the state of the nation and because it has become necessary to find another way for the country.”


MDP declares support for mandatory presidential primaries

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will back a proposal to make presidential primaries mandatory in the political parties bill, currently at committee stage.

MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, MDP parliamentary group leader, announced the decision at a press conference yesterday, two days after the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) declared it would not support the General Goods and Service Tax (G-GST) bill up for a final vote tomorrow.

“We believe that as many members as possible should have a say when a presidential candidate of a political party is determined,” Ibu Solih said. “In our party, we have a general vote among members to select the presidential candidate. When a bill on political parties gets passed, we believe that principle should be included in the law.”

Speaking to Minivan News today, MP Ahmed Mahlouf of the DRP’s Z-faction and spokesperson of the ‘joint opposition parliamentary group’ said that the opposition MPs would “welcome” the MDP’s move.

“But the bill should have been passed a long time ago,” Mahlouf said, reiterating a claim the Z-DRP has made in the media over past months that the bill had been parked at committee as part of “a deal between [DRP Leader Ahmed] Thasmeen [Ali] and MDP.”

The political parties bill has been stalled at committee stage since May 19, 2010.

Mahlouf said that Thasmeen was the one who stood to lose from stipulating mandatory presidential primaries.

“Thasmeen has no backbone,” Mahlouf continued. “At first he said he would support the tax bills and now he’s saying he doesn’t support it anymore.”

The opposition parliamentary group would support any amendment to the political parties bill stipulating mandatory primaries, Mahlouf said.

In June, the breakaway Z-faction called for an “emergency congress” to determine the party’s presidential candidate after ‘Honorary Leader’ and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom withdrew his endorsement of Thasmeen.

Thasmeen was selected as the party’s presidential candidate in the DRP national congress in March 2010 after he ran uncontested for the post.

At a press conference today, DRP Deputy Leader Ahmed Mohamed said that he did not believe the MDP’s announcement had any relation to the DRP’s stance on the tax bills.

“Perhaps it might be an effort to shake us up a bit,” he speculated. “We are really not against a primary. We at the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party are not opposed to a primary. What we’re saying is that the DRP charter does not say anything about a primary.”

Ahmed Mohamed noted that proposal to hold a presidential primary did not pass at the party’s last congress. The DRP charter states that the party’s presidential candidate shall be its leader, he said.

“So we can’t go against the DRP charter,” he stressed, adding however that the DRP would not oppose a presidential primary if it was stipulated in a law. “But we can’t do it now no matter how much some people might want it.”