Opposition declares landslide victory

Opposition declares landslide victory
May 07 13:02 2017

Voters delivered a symbolic message to the government with the opposition alliance’s “landslide” victory in Saturday’s local council election, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s chairman declared last night.

“The Maldivian people have said a big no to President [Abdulla] Yameen in very clear language,” Hassan Latheef told the press after provisional results showed that the MDP swept the Malé, Addu and Fuvahmulah city councils.

The MDP took all seven seats of the Addu City council by large margins, two out of three seats from the Fuvahmulah City council, and 12 out of 13 seats from the Malé City council.

The MDP lost the Henveiru North constituency of the capital after its candidate endorsed the pro-government Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party candidate a week before the election.

Latheef said 65 percent of voters across the country supported the opposition alliance. The MDP also secured majorities in several other populous islands, including Kulhudhufushi in the north and Thinadhoo in the south.

The elections commission has yet to announce provisional results or voter turnout, but results gathered by the opposition-aligned broadcaster Raajje TV shows the MDP in the lead with 255 seats out of 653 in contention.

With 60 percent of 422 ballot boxes counted, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives has won 118 seats and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance has 15 seats.

Independent candidates have won 82 seats and the opposition Jumhooree Party has taken 11 seats, according to Raajje TV, which employed a team of election monitors to gather results announced at polling stations.

Saturday’s poll took place amidst renewed political turmoil with Yameen battling a new opposition alliance bolstered by the weight of his half-brother former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was detained and put on trial last month as the opposition sought to seize the parliamentary majority with defections from the divided ruling party.

Other opposition leaders are either in jail or exile and Gayoom is in India on a private visit.

The government’s campaign focused on the need for cooperation from councils for development projects whilst the opposition framed the vote as a chance to reject “tyranny, injustice and corruption”.

As the results started coming in on Saturday night, Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan conceded defeat in his Vilimalé constituency to the MDP candidate Hamna Waheed.

The MDP also appears to have won majorities in the constituencies of senior ruling coalition lawmakers, including MDA leader Ahmed ‘Sun’ Siyam, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, PPM deputy leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla, and PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed.