Jumhoree Party undecided over joining election coalition ahead of national conference

The government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) has said no decision has been made on whether to join a coalition backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed in September’s election, as it prepares to officially choose it presidential candidate and leader.

Vice-chair of the JP’s Congress Committee Mohamed Haleem has told Minivan News that the party’s candidate for this year’s presidential election will officially be announced in June during its national conference.

He said that the party’s leader chosen at the conference would then go on to become presidential candidate of the JP.  However, Haleem added that he was presently unaware if anyone would be contesting against current party leader and founder MP Gasim Ibrahim.

Earlier this month,  the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) announced it would be joining the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in a coalition backing President Waheed. The DRP is the largest party in terms of MP numbers to so far back President Waheed, whose own Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) party  has no political representation in either parliament or local councils.

Despite serving with the DQP, GIP, Adhaalath Party, DRP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in the present government, Haleem added that the JP was committed to unveiling its own presidential candidate, as well as preparing contests to appoint other senior leadership during its three day national conference.

The JP was founded by MP Gasim, a resort tycoon, business magnate and member of watchdog body the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), who is considered presidential candidate for the party having already stood during the country’s first multi-party democratic election in 2008.

However, Haleem told Minivan News that the party’s presidential candidate would only be known when announced next month during the three day congress scheduled to run from June 27 to June 29.

“The main aims of the conference will be to amend certain party regulations as well as host an election for the position of party leader and other appointees like deputy leader,” he said. “We will also look to appoint members to different wings of the party.”

Haleem claimed that no discussions would be held during the conference over the possibility of joining President Waheed’s coalition, adding that any agreement on power sharing was presently considered a separate matter from its internal elections.

Coalition consideration

MP Gasim was reported in local media last month as claiming he would be prepared to form a coalition with other parties ahead of September’s election, but would not stand as a running mate of another candidate.

Just a day earlier, JP Spokesman Moosa Ramiz said the party had ruled out the idea of forming a coalition with fellow government-aligned parties ahead of this year’s elections, despite its involvement in recent power sharing talks with President Waheed.

“National stability”

As rival candidates begin to position themselves ahead of elections, GIP spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza last week claimed voters would shun the country’s two largest political parties in favour of the “national stability” offered by a coalition representing the current government.

Meanwhile the fellow government-aligned PPM – the country’s second largest party in terms of number of MPs –back in March elected MP Abdulla Yameen to stand as its presidential candidate and has continued to reject calls to join a coalition against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ahead of elections.

Former Maldives President and founder of the PPM, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, previously told local media that Dr Waheed’s coalition presented no threat to the election bid of its own candidate MP Abdulla Yameen.

Meanwhile, MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed contended during an interview with state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) on May 16 that President Waheed and the DRP has been forced to form a coalition out of necessity.

Nasheed questioned the coalition’s claims that it presented a “third way” for voters as opposed to the policies of the MDP and PPM and reiterated his belief that power-sharing coalitions were not compatible with a presidential system of government.

“I do not see a citizen who wants ‘another way.’ What is the path to deliver this way [to development]? We do not hear [political parties] talking about that,” he said. “We are presenting one path to that [development]. We believe MDP’s policies will bring prosperity to the people. I do not see this third way you referred to as ‘a way.’ I see it as two men with no other way. That is not a political philosophy,” he said.


Maldives voters will shun PPM, MDP for “national stability” of coalition government: GIP

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) has claimed voters will shun the country’s two largest political parties during September’s elections in favour of the “national stability” offered by a coalition representing the current government.

The comments were made as discussions continued this week between the GIP and the leaders of three other government-aligned parties in order to outline the direction of a recently formed coalition that will back President Waheed in the upcoming elections.  The president’s party has maintained that the coalition backing Waheed was not expected to deviate much from the policies of the current government.

Earlier this week, the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) announced it would be joining the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in a coalition backing President Waheed’s re-election. The DRP is the largest party in terms of MP numbers to so far back President Waheed, whose own GIP party currently has no political representation in parliament.

However, former Maldives President and founder of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Maumoon Abdul Gayoom today told local media that Dr Waheed’s coalition presented no threat to the election bid of its own candidate MP Abdulla Yameen.

The PPM – the country’s second largest party in terms of number of MPs – back in March elected MP Yameen to stand as its presidential candidate and has continued to reject calls to join a coalition against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party ahead of the elections. Yameen is Gayoom’s half brother.

Stabilisation measures

GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News today that he believed the country’s voters were “quite happy” with the stabilisation measures taken by President Waheed’s current coalition government. He added therefore that it was his belief the electorate would favour ensuring the stability of the nation by backing the president and his supporters rather than supporting the MDP or PPM.

Asked whether the president’s coalition would be able to win the election against the MDP and PPM, respectively the majority and minority leaders in parliament, Riza claimed national support was dwindling for the two parties.

“Even at its peak, the MDP could not get more than 25 percent of the vote,” he said. “The PPM on the other hand is backed by supporters of [former President] Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, not Yameen. The majority of [PPM supporters] favour joining the coalition.

Abbas added that the coalition had yet to choose a candidate to stand as President Waheed’s running mate, although discussions between leaders of the PPM, DQP and the Adhaalath Party were continuing today.

“I’m not aware of what these decisions are about, but all three parties have shown they agree on one thing – their support for President Waheed,” he said.

Abbas added that after agreeing to back the president, it would be “easy” for the coalition to outline a combined manifesto ahead of the elections due to their experience of working together – along with the PPM and MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) – in the current government since the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

“These parties are already working in a coalition with this government and have been setting the national agenda for the last two years,” he said. “In terms of policy, I don’t think we will see a significant deviation from the economic policies and development programs we have already seen. People care more about the stability of a nation than any political party.”

Responding to Riza’s comments, the PPM today questioned the political strength of the three party’s currently backing President’s Waheed, while also dismissing the effectiveness of coalitions in the Maldives dating to the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said that even if the president continued to extend his coalition to all other political parties in the country, the elections will remain a contest between the rival ideologies of former President Mohamed Nasheed -represnted by the MDP – and former President Gayoom – represented by the PPM.

“Just 48 hours ago we concluded a meeting in Addu Atoll, one of the largest areas in the country outside of Male’. Given the numbers of people we met there, it is clear there are only two parties,” he said.

Nihan added that while the PPM would continue to support President Waheed as part of the present coalition government up to September’s elections, it would not be looking to join any coalition ahead of voting.

“Originally in the first round of the 2008 elections, former President Gayoom failed to obtain enough votes to get re-elected. As we know, Nashed then formed a coalition to win the election in the second round,” he said. “What we saw then was after 20 days, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim resigned without much reason from the government. This has put a big question mark over the strength of coalitions.”

Nihan added that DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed, the present Special Advisor to President Waheed, has previously expressed “unconditional support” for the MDP and Nasheed following the 2008 presidential elections.  Yet he noted that the DQP, under Dr Saeed, went on to become one of the most vocal opponents of the Nasheed administration.

Nihan claimed that as a result of the country’s previous experience of coalition government, he believed there would be little appetite among voters for a power sharing government ahead of September’s vote.

MDP candidate former President Nasheed has also declared his party has ruled out forming a coalition during the elections, criticising the effectiveness of power sharing in Maldivian politics.


DRP enters coalition with President Waheed, commits “political suicide” claims MDP

The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has  said it will stand in a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed during September’s elections as part of an agreement to strengthen its position in the political “middle-ground”.

Party spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef told Minivan News that with the DRP battling for space in the middle ground between the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), it had opted to form as broad a coalition as possible to try and ensure a second round electoral victory.

“No party in the country will get more than 35 percent of the vote during the first round, even the MDP which remains the biggest single party,” he said, adding that the party continued to rule out working with the PPM beyond the present government.

Speaking following the coalition announcement today, the MDP accused the DRP and its current leader – one-time presidential candidate MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – of committing political “suicide” by continuing to side with a government the opposition party’s supporters accuse of coming to power in a “coup d’etat” last year.

Earlier this year the government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and religious conservative Adhaalath Party both announced their intentions to join a coalition with President Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP).

Both the DQP and GIP are small political parties currently facing potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.

“Too hardline”

DRP spokesperson Shareef said today that competing directly against the GIP or other government-aligned parties like the Jumhoree Party (JP) would only allow the PPM – as the country’s second largest party in terms of MPs – to emerge as a front runner during a potential run-off vote.

He went on to accuse the PPM, which was formed from a breakaway sections of DRP supporters loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as being “too hardline” to benefit the Maldivian people.

“This is a party to belongs to one family, or a supreme leader,” Shareef said, referring to Gayoom, who previously formed the DRP in 2005 during his 30 year rule of the country.

He added that even with the MDP presently being the country’s largest party, it was not itself capable of obtaining even 35 percent of the vote – a 51 percent share is required to form a government.

Shareef said considering the MDP’s likely support, being part of a coalition gave the DRP a better chance of securing election during a second round of voting, adding that increased polarisation between the country’s two largest parties during the last seven years was “leading the country nowhere”.

“There is no chance of a first round victory, so unless we have a strong coalition, those of us in the political middle ground would be forced to support the MDP,” he claimed.

Shareef added that no demands has so far been made by the party with regard to securing senior cabinet or government positions such as the vice presidency, should the coalition be voted into power.

“It would be nice to have [the vice presidential position], but we are not asking for cabinet posts or a certain share of ministers, we believe that unity is needed right now,” he claimed.

Since the controversial transfer of power that on February 7, 2012, which saw former President Mohamed Nasheed resign from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military the DRP has been part of a coalition government with other former opposition parties including the PPM, JP, DQP and the Adhaalath Party.

Asked whether a similar coalition of parties similar to those already serving under the current administration would be electable, Shareef said he believed President Waheed had served the country admirably to hold so many rival political figures together.

“When you have a government that comes into power by accident it will always be a lame duck [administration],” he claimed. “President Waheed has done an admirable thing and filled a political vacuum.”

After the coalition agreement was announced today, DRP Deputy Leader MP Rozaina Adam took to social network service Twitter to accuse both the PPM and the MDP of “desperation” by trying to disparage the party’s decision to enter a coalition with the president.

Political “suicide”

However, MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor argued that September’s election would be divided along the lines of those voting against a government deemed to have come to power in a “coup d’etat” last year and those in support of the present administration.

“This an an election based on recovering from a coup government,” he said.  “The election will be along these lines.”

Ghafoor claimed that by opting to stay aligned with the current government of President Waheed, DRP Leader MP Thasmeen had committed political “suicide”.

“We have been travelling all over the country as a party recently, and we have seen lots of concern that this coup administration has ruined the economy and stalled investment projects. We are will be lucky if we can avoid [sovereign] default before the election is held,” he said.

“Our candidate [former President Mohamed Nasheed] has previously summarised it well. You have the MDP making three foot strides, the PPM making half foot strides and the present government going backwards,” he said.

Ghafoor also said  he had met a large number of local councilors from government-aligned parties during his travels who had expressed concern at a perceived focus by the current administration to centralise power as much as possible.

Speaking to Minivan News last month, former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, now standing as running mate to PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, said that the political landscape since the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008 necessitated a willingness to share power more than ever with “major” political parties.

“We have to recognise that the PPM and the MDP are the two major political forces in the country capable of winning elections. Hence, if the governing coalition desires to forge an alliance, it cannot realistically exclude the PPM from any such move. Whether a coalition, inclusive of the PPM can be realised prior to the elections is possible or not, we cannot alienate major political parties in an election,” he said at the time.


Dr Jameel unveiled as PPM running mate: “I remain ever committed to serve this nation”

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was last night unveiled as the running mate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate MP Abdullah Yameen, ahead of elections scheduled for September this year.

Dr Jameel’s appointment was announced during a ceremony held yesterday evening at Dharubaaruge conference centre in Male’, with local media soon reporting that the President’s Office had called for the minister’s resignation to prevent any apparent “conflict of interest”.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile claimed that Dr Jameel’s selection would have no impact on its own campaigning ahead of September’s vote, accusing the current home minister of political opportunism in the hopes of prolonging his time in government.


Following the PPM ceremony yesterday, Home Minister Jameel used his Twitter account to comment on the appointment.

Earlier the same day, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that the party had selected the “perfect running mate” to contest the upcoming presidential elections alongside MP Yameen.

“We have selected a political candidate who has the best interests of the country,” Nihan told Minivan News ahead of the ceremony, adding that the PPM was one of the few parties in the country currently in a position to be able to announce a presidential running mate.

Nihan said that despite ongoing legal wrangling over the validity of the party’s recent primary vote, the party would continue to move forward with its elections plans with its election manifesto expected to be printed soon.

Shortly before the PPM officially confirmed Dr Jameel as MP Yameen’s running mate, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was quoted in local media as calling for the home minister to resign from his position.

Masood told Sun Online yesterday that Dr Jameel’s decision to stand with the PPM during elections would create a conflict of interest regarding President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s own re-election plans.

Foregone conclusion

MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the PPM’s decision to pick Dr Jameel’s to stand alongside MP Yameen in the upcoming elections was a “foregone conclusion” as far as the party was concerned, adding it would not have a drastic impact on its own campaigning.

“It is not a surprise to us. The appointment will be of no consequence to our election campaign,” he said.

Ghafoor claimed that the decision to appoint a senior member of President Waheed’s government to the PPM ensured that the party would be linked by voters to the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

The power transfer, which saw former President Mohamed Nasheed resign from office after a mutiny by sections of the police and military has been labelled a “coup d’etat” by the MDP.  The party’s allegations were nonetheless dismissed by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of national Inquiry (CNI).

Ghafoor accused Dr Jameel of being one of the main “fragments behind the coup”, accusing him of siding with the PPM to try and prolong his time in government.

Dr Jameel, along with Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, were last month set to face no-confidence motions in parliament that were later withdrawn by the party, after the Supreme Court blocked the holding of the vote as a secret ballot.

With the opposition party claiming previously it had still not ruled out re-submitting the no confidence motions, Ghafoor said Jameel’s move was a deliberate attempt to “escape impeachment”.

“This is definitely political opportunism. I believe he has leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire with this move,” he said.

Speaking personally on the appointment, Ghafoor questioned the support and respect in the country for Dr Jameel, accusing him of being a “discredited man” and praticing “hate speech”.

Dr Jameel has held the position as Deputy Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). During the DQP’s time in opposition under the previous administration, the party published a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’.

The publication, described by the then MDP government as a “pamphlet of hate”, accused Nasheed of “working ceaselessly to weaken the Islamic faith of Maldivians, allow space for other religions, and make irreligious and sinful behaviour common.”

The repeated arrest of Jameel by police over his alleged hate speech, and his subsequent releases by Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, led to Nasheed’s decision to detain the judge on charges of corruption and political collusion in early 2012. Protests by the then-opposition in the wake of the judge’s detention were shortly followed by a police mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, which he maintains was made under duress.