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Campaign trail: freeholds and sovereignty

Daily roundup of news from the campaign trail.



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

August 25

  • This government hasn’t tormented anyone for delivering religious fatwas: Shaheem (Sun)
  • There are no religious scholars tormented by this government for issuing religious fatwas: Dr Shaheem (PSM)
  • This time it was Sheikh Ilyas who retorted to Shaheem (VFP)
  • Dr Shaheem meets people of Haddunmathi Kalaidhoo (PSM)
  • Opposition coalition is divided because of efforts to bring Nasheed to power: Shaheem (PSM)
  • Opposition has differences of opinion, they can’t rule: Shaheem (Mihaaru)
  • President Yameen visits Faafu atoll (PSM)
  • Opposition government would remain for less than 18 months: president (Avas)
  • Opposition government would remain at most for a year and a half: president (Mihaaru)
  • Nasheed said what he wants most is to jail Maumoon: President Yameen (Sun)
  • Opinion is divided among opposition over allowing those above 65 to contest: president (Mihaaru)
  • There is hope to carry out a US$10 billion project in Faafu atoll: president (PSM)
  • I still have hope about Faafu atoll project: president (Avas)
  • Ibu got opportunity for reform, he has been experienced: President Yameen (Mihaaru)

Visiting four islands in Faafu atoll, President Abdulla Yameen blamed opposition protests for scuttling a proposed US$10 billion investment in the atoll by the Saudi royal family. But there is still hope the project could be revived, the president said on Nilandhoo island.

He also defended the constitutional amendment that authorises foreign ownership of land if an investment exceeds US$1 billion. The opposition candidate has pledged to repeal the freeholds amendment.

Yameen said the opposition coalition is divided over repealing an amendment that set a 65-year age limit for presidential candidates. The Jumhooree Party favours repeal but the Maldivian Democratic Party does not, Yameen claimed. This was just one of many bones of contention within the coalition, he said, reiterating that it would break apart if they win the election.

Yameen suggested that JP leader Gasim Ibrahim was leased islands and lagoons as a reward for joining the coalition that brought him to power in 2013.  The JP’s last-minute backing was pivotal in Yameen’s narrow victory. But neither the president nor his attorney general was aware of the deal, he claimed.

Saturday night’s ruling party rally on Nilandhoo was the president’s first in his re-election campaign. Previous visits to islands were part of official trips to inaugurate development projects.

Running mate Dr Mohamed Shaheem continued his tour of Laamu atoll, visiting islands and defending Yameen’s track record. Sheikh Ilyas Hussain, a former colleague in the Adhaalath Party, hit back at Shaheem’s claim that the Yameen administration has not punished clerics, posting online a letter from the Islamic ministry that revoked his two-decade-old preaching license.

  • President Yameen will forfeit election a week before voting: Ibu (Vnews)
  • President Yameen has enslaved people in the name of development: Ameeth (Raajje)
  • Opposition candidate silent on call to invade Maldives! (PSM)
  • I will not allow anything that could threaten independence: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • I will not give the slightest chance for anything that could threaten Maldivian independence: Ibu (Avas)
  • I will not allow Islam and independence to be threatened: Ibu (Sun)
  • You can’t get caught up in emotion and call to invade Maldives, I will not allow anything that affects independence: Ibu (Raajje)
  • Extraordinary warm welcome for Ibu on Raa Madduvari! (Raajje)
  • No need to take on more loans, President Yameen must bear responsibility: Ibu (Mihaaru)

Continuing his tour of Raa atoll, joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ denounced calls by an Indian politician to invade the Maldives if the September 23 election is rigged. Foreign pressure should remain within bounds, he said on Innamaadhoo island, hours after state media questioned his silence on the controversy.

Ibu also tweeted: “I object to such rhetoric in the strongest terms. The [Elections Commission and President Yameen] are already complicit in voter fraud. Such violations must be addressed within the internationally established framework. Not with emotionally charged statements. The sovereignty of the Maldives is paramount.”

In his Innamaadhoo speech, Ibu called on the president to stop taking further loans and providing sovereign guarantees. Of every MVR1 earned as revenue, 75 laari has to be spent on debt service or repayment, he said.

In Raa atoll, Ibu pledged to expand mariculture, change schools to single-session, increase scholarships in boat building and marine architecture, establish water and sewerage services on all inhabited islands, and reinstate unfairly sacked government workers.