Maldives Presidential elections are due on 9 September this year. There are at least four serious contenders – the incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, speaker of the parliament Mohammad Nasheed, the main opposition leader Abdullah Gayoom. A fourth contender will be thrown up by the Jumhoory Party which though in coalition with the government led by President Solih has decided to field its own candidate. Now how the run up will occur, a discussion of prospects of each candidate are as below-
MDP Candidates – Solih and Nasheed
Sunonline reported that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has officially nominated the party’s presidential candidate, incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih by presenting him the ticket on February 17.
MDP’s Chairperson Fayyaz Ismail handed over the ticket to President Solih during a special ceremony held for the purpose at Carnival area. Solih won the primary against Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed with 61 percent (24,566 votes), while Nasheed won 38 percent (15,641 votes) as majority of the Party supported Solih’s re-election to a second term in office. Nasheed however is yet to announce support to the MDP official candidate now Ibu Solih and boycotted the ceremony.
Nasheed has formed a new wing of the party called ‘Fikuregge Dhirun’. While Nasheed is a popular leader of late his policies of disruption such as asking for a referendum for transiting to a parliamentary system has invited some rebuke.
The MDP believes that Ibu Solih will win the polls. This was expressed by Chief of Staff at the President’s Office, Ali Zahir who confidently stated that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih can easily win this year’s presidential elections. Ali Zahir made the remark in a tweet following Jumhoory Party (JP), included in the incumbent government coalition, decided to field their own candidate for the elections.
Will the Nasheed faction break away and form a truck with the JP which is the third largest party and in case the breakaway faction of MDP joins with the JP and nominates Nasheed as the President there is possibility of Solih being upstaged.
Support to Solih
The Adhaalath Party, in the current government coalition, and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), which has previously been an opposition party, have agreed to form coalitions with President Solih.
Solih is looking at a compromise with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) and is holding discussions for forming a coalition.
Opposition to President Solih
JP has decided to contest this year’s presidential election independently even though President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih extended an invitation to form a coalition. Despite the meeting by the JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, the party plans to float a candidate.
Sunonline on the other hand has reported that Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim has proposed Maldives Reform Movement (MRM)’s president Faris Maumoon as JP’s running mate in the upcoming presidential election.
Qasim made the comment while speaking to the press outside former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s office on March 20, following discussions regarding the election. “Its possible. Why not? These are all possibilities. Why not? I say this because he’s a capable and educated individual,” he said.
Taking this seriously President Solih is strengthening his own party and has called a meeting of the MPs which was attended by 50 MPs to discuss the response to decisions by other parties regarding the election, and to plan his campaign.
The opposition Progressive Party of Maldives is hopeful to field former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom. This comes about after Elections Commission’s (EC) President Fuad Thaufeeq remarked that it is highly probable the candidacy of opposition PPM-PNC’s presidential candidate, Maldives National Party’s (MNP) presidential candidate and leader, Dhangethi MP Mohamed Nazim have remarked that there is no deal to be made with the MDP and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
How the Situation will Develop
The situation presently in Maldives appears to be fluid and the advantage that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih enjoyed has eroded. Much will depend on whether former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom is allowed to participate in the Presidential polls. A combination of Nasheed and Gasim Ibrahim may pose another challenge. So from a clear field now Mr Solih will face challenges.