Citing the wishes of his constituents and “the pulse of a majority” of voters ahead of the 9 September election, Thoddoo MP Hassan Shiyan left The Democrats and rejoined the Maldivian Democratic Party.
Shiyan was among 13 MPs in a breakaway MDP faction loyal to former president Mohamed Nasheed that formed the new party. His endorsement of the president came after Kulhudhuffushi North MP Yasir Abdul Latheef along with the city’s mayor and council members returned to the MDP in the previous week.
The Maldivian Democratic Party released the final section of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s re-election manifesto, promising an “economic transformation” and setting out policy goals such as de-dollarisation, retention of foreign currency earnings, targeted subsidies, bringing the debt-to-GDP down to 80% and doubling the size of the economy.
Other pledges included an EXIM bank, a sovereign investment fund. a convention island near Malé with an entertainment complex, a local campus of a renowned hospitality school, destination marketing for the north and south as distinctive brands, capping penal interest for overdue loan repayments at 1% per year, and increased investments in agriculture, renewable energy, digital infrastructure and specialist healthcare.
The MDP rally at the social centre in Malé featured an interpretive dance performance depicting the political upheaval of the past two decades.
In his speech, President Solih expressed confidence of winning the upcoming election in one round. Rival candidates other than Malé Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu are trying to split the vote and force a run-off in order seek leverage for a coalition deal, he contended.
The ‘Good Governance’ section of the MDP manifesto was launched earlier in the week, including flexible and remote working options and state funding for private media. Campaigning in Baa Atoll later in the week, President Solih pledged a pay hike of at least 40% for 44,281 state employees in January.
The Maldives Seafood Processors and Exporters Association (MSPEA) objected to opposition People’s National Congress candidate Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s pledge to set a minimum price for purchasing yellowfin tuna. A fixed price would be detrimental to exporters in adverse global economic conditions, the group warned.
The education ministry lifted a niqab ban for teachers, allowing women who wear the face veil to teach with an identity card. But the amended rules require teachers to remove the veil in classes with children under 10.
The policy reversal came at the behest of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, a coalition partner of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party.
Maldivian Democratic Party MPs objected after Speaker Mohamed Nasheed decided to revisit the reconstitution of standing committees. Only three of 14 MPs who left the MDP to join The Democrats have notified parliament, Nasheed said, putting off committee assignments until the change in party representation could be formalised. But several MDP MPs vociferously protested, accusing the party’s former leader of stalling to avoid an impeachment motion.
Nasheed called out the names of MPs Yaugoob Abdulla, Abdul Mughni and Ibrahim Shareef and ordered them to leave the chamber. But after they refused despite repeated warnings, Nasheed adjourned the sitting.
Tuesday’s sitting also took place amid quarrels between MDP MPs and Democrats MP Hassan Afeef, who was presiding as the eldest lawmaker.
A lawyer before flipping the opposition seat for the MDP in 2019, Siraj was previously aligned with Speaker Mohamed Nasheed’s faction but backed President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in January’s primary. If he joins the Progressive Party of Maldives as expected, he would become the first MDP MP to switch to the main opposition party in the current parliament.
At a rally near the Hiya flats in Hulhumalé, the opposition Progressive Congress Coalition candidate Dr Mohamed Muizzu launched his manifesto for the 9 September election, proposing former president Abdulla Yameen’s “total solution” for the housing crisis in Malé. Delivering a presentation of key policies, he outlined a plan to provide 65,000 land plots and housing units over 20 years from reclaimed land in the Gulhifalhu, Giraavaru and Fushidhiggaru lagoons near the capital. The manmade island in the Fushidhiggaru lagoon south of Malé would be three times the size of Hulhumalé, he said, pledging to set up a government fund to finance home construction as well as a development bank to offer housing loans at a 5% interest rate.
The manifesto also includes developing seven urban centres in northern and southern atolls along with industrial facilities and transhipment ports.
During campaign trips later in the week, Muizzu pledged to connect Addu City’s Hithadhoo and Hulhumeedhoo with a bridge, expand tourism in the southernmost atoll, cancel all parking fines in Malé and to introduce release on bail.
Developing an eco-city in the reclaimed Fushidhiggaru lagoon is also a pledge of Jumhooree Party candidate Qasim Ibrahim.
Two people were injured amid violent confrontations between supporters of the two main parties in Kaafu Guraidhoo. Fights broke out after opposition supporters gathered to greet presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Muizzu clashed with protesters from the Maldivian Democratic Party. A 22-year-old man was arrested as order was restored, the police said.
MDP supporters started protesting during Muizzu’s campaign stops after opposition protests on most islands visited by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Four protesters were arrested ahead of the president’s visit to Baa Thulhaadhoo on Monday.