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Maldives: Elections to 19th People’s Majlis: MDP heading towards a landslide victory:

Paper No. 6421         Dated 7-Apr-2019

By R.M. Panda

In the just concluded elections to the People’s Majlis (Parliament) on 6th April, 2019, with half the counting already over, it looks that the MDP led by former President Nasheed  is heading towards a landslide victory.

The MDP is said to be leading in 59 Constituencies, followed by the PPM- PNC combine of former President Yameen with 10 and the Jumhooree party in 7 constituencies.  Independents are leading in 7 Constituencies.

It is expected that the MDP will get around 60 seats in a total of 87 seats, which is a comfortable majority. 

It may be recalled that the four party coalition that brought Solih as President Solih to power could not agree on a common list and had contested independently.  Late in the day only the Adhaalath led by Sheikh Imran made some last-minute adjustments with the MDP.  Gayoom’s Party- the Maldives Reforms Movement also supported the MDP. Of the seven candidates of JP  leading in the counting, one is not sure as to how many were supported by Yameen’s Group.

Some notable points in the current Elections:

  1. People rejected squarely the divisive leader and his Party the Jumhooree.  As the Speaker in the last Majlis he deliberately prevented some important bills relating to investigative powers for the Presidential Commission and regulations on the legal provisions, by refusing  to place the bills before the Parliament and directing his party members not to be present in the Parliament to complete the quorum required to take up the bills. 

Gasim is said to be the richest political leader heading the “Villa Group”. He had claimed that only millionaires should become parliamentarians to prevent corruption! In the course of the election campaign he reverted back to his old tricks in alleging that the MDP has plans to build temples and churches in a hundred percent Sunni country!

People who have met Gasim say that he is very arrogant and has no respect for the parliamentary members or even political leaders. In the last elections he showed that principles do not matter and entered into an alliance for an adjustment of seats with the former tyrant and ex President Yameen who had kept him in jail and he had to be in exile in Germany to avoid further harassment from Yameen!

It is hoped the new Parliament does not elect him as Speaker again although he has already started making friendly noises that he and his party would continue in the coaltion.

In a way, if the present election results in the breakup of the Jumhooree party it will good for Maldives itself.  Already some dissenting voices are heard within the party.  Gasim’s wife Aishath Nahula who is the transport minister in the current administration is not in agreement with the antics of Gasim.  So is the position of the Vice President of the Party Faisal Naseem and the Tourisim minister Ali Waheed.

  1. Second is the rejection of Yameen and his two parties- the PPM and the newly formed Maldives National Congress. The latter party was formed by Yameen as he was afraid that he may not be able to retain the position of party chief of PPM by the Courts.  In the run up to the elections, Yameen was released from house arrest and his assets released, but he had no time to use his money and muscle power in the current elections. The first task of the Solih Government should be to undo the immense damage done by Yameen.  The entire judiciary and the security services will have to be reorganized to ensure that in future these institutions are not misused.
  1. Gayoom’s son Faris Maumoon who was arrested by Yameen earlier has been elected while his younger brother Ghassan Maumoon who sided with Yameen has been defeated.  It is an irony that Gayoom had supported another candidate against his younger son in the same constituency.

With a comfortable majority President Solih has his tasks readily cut out.

First he should continue to get along with the President Nasheed.  The media inside the country and outside are making it out as if it is a victory for Nasheed, though President Solih had worked equally hard to get the MDP candidates elected.  Though they were child hood friends differences are bound to occur and it would depend upon more on Nasheed to get along well with the President.  Already Nasheed is heard to be making suggestions to change the Constitution into a Westminster system.  The present Constitution is neither Presidential nor Parliamentary and that appears to be the root of the problem.  But any move by Nasheed to reduce the powers of Solih would certainly give rise to differences.

Second is to keep the former President and tyrant Yameen under control.  It was a bit of s surprise that Yameen continued to stay in Maldives despite all his misdeeds and corruption scandals.  Not that he has faith in the judiciary, but he seems to have faith in influencing the judiciary.  Solih’s first. Task should be to reform the Judiciary.  So is the case with the Security Forces that were misused by former President Yameen.  Solih did the right thing in thanking both the Election Commission, the Police and the Security Forces for conducting the elections smoothly.  It may be recalled that the opposition tried their best till the last minute to get the elections postponed. The presence of International Observers helped.