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Campaign trail: inflated costs and slicing the cake

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 15

  • What I see in Malé is worry, I will find solutions: Ibu (Avas)
  • Seeing Ibu Beybe she sees on TV, Junana didn’t want to let go (Raajje)
  • Ibu in Galolhu North today, saw the same picture! (Vnews)
  • We will resume Veshi Fahi Malé programme: Ibu (Raajje)
  • This is a youth coalition that will realise the dreams of youth: Ibu (Vnews)
  • We will see foreign nations take over Maldivian islands and lagoons: Saudhulla (Raajje)
  • Airport could have been developed for US$650 million: Maleeh (Mihaaru)
  • President Yameen tried to sell off country’s main commercial port: Maleeh (Raajje)

Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ resumed door-to-door campaigning in the capital, telling reporters afterwards that the cramped conditions of most homes highlight the urgent need for housing solutions. He pledged to review and restart the Maldivian Democratic Party government’s Veshi Fahi Malé decongestion programme.

On Wednesday night, Ibu opened a youth jagaha (meeting hall) and pledged to create jobs for youth, 19 to 23 percent of whom are unemployed. He alleged graft in the ‘Get Set’ entrepreneurship loan scheme and pledged to open a picnic island near Malé and to broaden the student loan scheme to allow youth to study in a country of their choice.

Running mate Faisal Naseem noted that President Abdulla Yameen had voted against lowering the voting age to 18 at the assembly that drafted the 2008 constitution.

Over at an opposition rally at the Jumhooree Party headquarters, Yameen’s former youth minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal said the ongoing US$1 billion airport expansion could have been done for US$650 million with the help of donor countries such as Japan.

The opposition alleges the price tags of flagship projects are wildly inflated.

Inverting the ruling party’s attack against the MDP’s alleged sale of state assets, Maleeh accused the Yameen administration of trying to sell the commercial port, Faafu atoll and all the lagoons near the capital.

Former ruling party lawmaker Saudhulla Hilmy warned that future generations would have to give up islands due to inability to repay debt. If a project costs MVR13 million (US$843,000), the government takes an MVR23 million loan, he alleged, and repayment with interest amounts to MVR30 million.

  • MDP didn’t do work commensurate to debt at the end of their government: President (Sun)
  • Will solve Dhiyamigili beach erosion and establish sewerage in Gaadiffushi: President (PSM)
  • A law is needed to “slice the cake” due to lack of trust (Mihaaru)
  • Opposition couldn’t digest when the Dharumavantha building was completed quickly: President (Sun)
  • Go to ACC if you want to beat me before election: President (VFP)
  • President assures there is no problem with MDA (Avas)
  • 51 resorts will be complete during these five years: President (Mihaaru)
  • What couldn’t be done before can’t be done later: President (Mihaaru)
  • Warnings coming about a ban on exports (Mihaaru)
  • They aren’t moving away from culture of selling off assets: Saeed (Mihaaru)
  • Ibu needs to say how he is going to find money to fulfil pledges: Thoriq (Sun)
  • First lady arrives in Kamadhoo (PSM)
  • Warm welcome for first lady on Thulhaadhoo (Mihaaru)
  • Protest against first lady on Thulhaadhoo (Raajje)
  • We will win without rigging, the result is clear: Shaheem (Mihaaru)

In the last leg of his Thaa atoll tour, President Yameen defended his administration’s accumulation of debt, continuing attacks on the three-year MDP government, from which he inherited a disproportionate amount of debt “with nothing to show for it”.

He dismissed allegations of graft in the 25-storey hospital tower project, putting it down to the opposition’s failure to “digest” the imminent end of Maldivians needing to travel overseas for medical care. It was his administration and not the opposition that investigated and sought prosecutions over the unprecedented theft of nearly US$80 million, Yameen said.

As with failed alliances in the past, the present opposition coalition of former rivals would fall apart over “slicing the cake,” he said, adding that Ibu’s pledge to enact a law to protect coalition agreements shows the lack of trust.

His own partner Maldives Development Alliance remains in the ruling coalition, Yameen assured, dismissing speculation prompted by the absence of MDA leader and resort tycoon, Ahmed ‘Sun’ Siyam, from campaign trips.

“Alarm bells” were ringing of an export ban, he said, reiterating claims that European Union sanctions were prompted by his defence of Islamic principles.

Over on the southern Fuvahmulah island, running mate Dr Mohamed Shaheem scoffed at the opposition’s allegations of vote rigging, gesturing to a crowd of hundreds of supporters at a vehicle rally.

Continuing her tour of Baa atoll, First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim visited Thulhaadhoo, an MDP stronghold where a ruling party lawmaker claimed she was greeted by a majority of islanders. Opposition supporters protested behind police lines as she shook hands at the jetty.