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Campaign trail: final stretch

Daily roundup of news from the campaign trail.



daily roundup of headlines made by the candidates, running mates and their surrogates on the campaign trail.

September 19

  • Warm welcome in Fuvahmulah for Ibu and Faisal (Vnews)
  • Fuvahmulah’s change, ready to show in vote! (Mihaaru)
  • We will build ICT main centre in Fuvahmulah: Ibu (Raajje)
  • The MVR1.2 billion allocated for Fuvahmulah went into pockets: Ibu (VFP)
  • Ibu spills out a pile of pledges for Fuvahmulah! (Avas)
  • My “real self” won’t change: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • We will air-condition all mosques in the country: Ibu (VFP)
  • Whole Fuvahmulah is with the coalition: Faisal (Vnews)
  • A record on Fuvahmulah, Faisal’s challenge to PPM senior officials! (Mihaaru)
  • Faisal’s challenge: no way you can win in Fuvahmulah! (Avas)
  • MVR1.2 billion spent on Fuvahmulah can’t be seen: Shah (Raajje)
  • We left President Yameen because he failed to fulfill pledges: Shah, Fazad (Vnews)
  • I did wrong by trying to get votes for President Yameen, I’m paying for it with my life: Sinan (Raajje)
  • “Vote for Ibu to right the wrong” (Avas)
  • Vote Ibu to free Imran, he is a compassionate son: mother Zahidha (Vnews)
  • Coalition government should be supported to empower women: Aisha (Vnews)

For their final campaign trips before the election on September 23, opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ and running mate Faisal Naseem travelled to the southernmost atolls.

At a well-attended rally on Fuvahmulah, Naseem declared that the turnout was a record for his native island. He challenged the ruling party to secure a majority from Fuvahmulah, the third most populous island in the country.

About 150 civil servants, including school and hospital staff, attended the rally, earning praise from Naseem for defying intimidation from the government.

Since the campaign began in early July, there have been almost daily media reports of action against civil servants or staff at state-owned companies who welcomed Ibu on island visits or attended opposition campaign events. Several employees of the utility company Fenaka have been transferred to distant islands. Most recently, a veteran manager was sacked from Milandhoo in Shaviyani atoll.

In his speech, Ibu pledged to pave the main roads of Fuvahmulah, protect the eroding shoreline, fix the harbour, and to reduce the cost of travel to the remote island. All airlines operating in the country will be authorised to fly to Fuvahmulah airport, he said.

He pledged to air-condition all mosques in the country with renewable energy.

Other pledges included designating an area for a 1,000-bed tourism facility, building a Quran centre, upgrading the hospital, issuing soft loans and subsidies for farmers, protecting heritage sites, building an “open museum,” developing an information technology faculty at the national university with its main campus in Fuvahmulah, and offering tax relief and assistance for digital technology businesses.

  • Opposition manifesto is the way MDP wanted: Nihan (Mihaaru)
  • Foreign fishing boats have not been authorised to fish in Maldives: Minister Shainee (PSM)
  • We have not permitted foreigners to fish in Maldives: Shainee (Avas)
  • False claims damage fisheries: Shainee (Mihaaru)
  • 1000-bed project to begin in Fuvahmulah to expand tourism (PSM)
  • A 500-room city hotel to be built in Fuvamulah (Mihaaru)
  • Many pledges from government to Fuvahmulah coinciding with Ibu and Faisal trip (Raajje)
  • Those who tried to establish a secular government in the Maldives should not be given power: religious scholars (PSM)
  • President Yameen is surrounded by Islamic nations: Dr Shaheem (Mihaaru)
  • President Yameen has delivered 99% of the religious proposals by the opposition: Shaheem (PSM)
  • We should discuss to correct government’s shortcomings after the election: Shaheem (Avas)
  • Religious policy in both manifestos (VFP)
  • Adhaalath Party reveals differences in the religious policy in two manifestos (Raajje)
  • Religious policy of people who brought scholars into disrepute cannot be trusted: Nihan (PSM)

Ministers went on the offensive to criticise the coalition manifesto. While the opposition has pledged to ban foreign fishing vessels in Maldivian territorial waters, Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee denied Ibu’s claim that 40 boats are operating with licenses in addition to more than 100 boats fishing illegally.

At a separate press conference, Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer announced plans to build a 20-block, 500-bed city hotel in Fuvahmulah. A total of 1,000 beds would be developed as part of an MVR400 million (US$26 million) integrated tourism project in the southern atoll, he said, adding that it would be financed with foreign loans.

A convention centre would also be built to complement the city hotel, Zameer said.

On Wednesday night, the president’s running mate Dr Mohamed Shaheem led a campaign rally with clerics and religious scholars at the convention centre in Malé. A person must be judged by the company he keeps, Shaheem said, and the present administration has fostered closer ties with Islamic nations and advocated for the rights of the Palestinian people.

“Pakistan is developing a medical college. Kuwait is funding the airport. Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia is funding the airport.”

In contrast, the opposition coalition is colluding with “Western imperial powers,” he alleged. Shaheem said he joined the ticket to help the president confront the imperialists. A “powerful leader” is needed to protect the country’s Islamic identity and scholars should back him instead of “squabbling for power.”

Corruption and other shortcomings could be remedied with counsel, he said, urging religious scholars to unite behind the president. The opposition would reverse infrastructure development and could not enact reforms, he argued.

“After the election, we should all discuss to solve the problems in the country. Scholars and the learned should advise the president.”

Shaheem’s former colleagues at the religious conservative Adhaalath Party meanwhile compared the religious policy in both manifestos and found the coalition pledges to be more detailed and promising.