More than 40 staff at the ministry of housing and infrastructure who worked to set up a ruling party meeting hall in Malé joined the Progressive Party of Maldives at the jagaha opening ceremony Monday night.
“I thank Minister [Dr Mohamed] Muiz very sincerely for making this jagaha so perfect. And Muiz’s talent is such that he has given courage to the housing ministry employees involved in this work to join our party,” President Abdulla Yameen said after opening the Fiyathoshi Jagaha in the Maafanu ward of the capital.
The housing ministry employees handed over membership forms to the president before his speech.
Yameen also thanked the building’s leaseholder, who he said wished to remain unnamed, and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim for “being the intermediary”.
The meeting hall opening comes after the opposition coalition accused the PPM of misusing state resources and employees for party activities.
In his remarks, Muiz said his staff signing up for the PPM was part of the party’s efforts to win the 2018 presidential election. Yameen will sweep the Maafanu ward because voters appreciate the government’s development projects, he said.
At a press conference earlier this month, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the PPM’s deputy leader, had claimed he was unaware that housing ministry staff were building a PPM campaign hall in Maafanu.
The PPM has also been accused of coercing civil servants and employees of state-owned companies to sign for the party and attend rallies.
During a recruitment drive led by ministers, lawmakers and company bosses on the streets of Malé in early February, the party claimed to have signed up 11,000 new members. However, PPM candidates for the Malé city council in May won less than half that number.
Yameen meanwhile went on to continue blistering attacks against former President Mohamed Nasheed, accusing the opposition leader of removing deported Christian missionaries from the immigration blacklist shortly after assuming office in November 2008.
But religious scholars and sheikhs convinced the public to vote for Nasheed to protect the Islamic faith in the Maldives, he said.
Under Nasheed’s three-year administration, the whole system of governance was ruined, foreign nations lost trust in the state, and the public lived in a climate of fear, he contended. Traditional values such as respect for the elderly was lost, the state became indebted, and crime and drug abuse became rampant, he added.
The aim of the PPM’s campaign meeting halls should be to refresh people’s memories, he said.
Yameen also insisted that opposition leaders and former allies were jailed during the past three years after fair and legal judicial processes because of crimes they committed.
“It might have been trying to blow up [the presidential speedboat], trying to kill the president, it might have been keeping weapons at a home or taking to the streets and illegally trying to overthrow the state by force,” he said, referring respectively to his former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla.