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Campaign trail: turnout taunts

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.

September 8

  • PPM says 30,000, opposition saw 3,000 people! (Mihaaru)
  • President departs for some islands of Laamu (Avas)
  • President Yameen officially opens L. Hithadhoo harbour (PSM)
  • President Yameen officially begins L. Maamendhoo sewage service (PSM)
  • President’s retort: I haven’t done any wrong to warrant foreigners imposing sanctions (Avas)
  • If we stay idle we could see 2008’s daydream: president (Mihaaru)
  • President Yameen officially opens L. Maabaidhoo harbour (PSM)
  • President inaugurates L. Gan Thudi ward’s harbour (PSM)
  • There is no one to choose except me: president (Mihaaru)
  • Second chance need not be given to those calling for loss of independence: president (PSM)
  • President pledges to expand Kadhdhoo airport (Mihaaru)
  • Kadhdhoo will be developed for large planes to land: president (Avas)
  • Kadhdhoo airport will be changed to an international airport: President Yameen (PSM)
  • I won’t be scared of a time bomb: President Yameen (Mihaaru)
  • I’m not scared of audit “time bomb”: president (Avas)
  • I took nothing from the state treasury: president (PSM)
  • There’s no government land I got I took nothing from the state treasury: president (Mihaaru)
  • 400 plots will be awarded from L. Gan in coming week: President Yameen (PSM)
  • President officially starts Fonadhoo water system service (PSM)
  • People were brought over from islands because people wouldn’t go to opposition rally: president (Raajje)
  • Youth didn’t go to opposition rally, people were brought from islands: president (Mihaaru)
  • President welcomes Ibu saying he won’t give space for other religions! (Avas)
  • We see country developing when opportunities are given to youth: president (PSM)
  • We have to buckle our belts to give 2018 to the president: Nihan (Mihaaru)
  • Participation in opposition rallies is same as PPM’s neighbourhood corner gatherings: Nihan (PSM)

Marking the completion of infrastructure projects, President Abdulla Yameen campaigned on several islands in the southern Laamu atoll. He repeated the key messages of his re-election bid: transformational change with mega-projects, details of government spending on each island, and a claim that an opposition victory would spell the end for “our religion, our independence, our nationhood.”

It was not enough for the opposition candidate to assure that Islam will remain the only religion permitted in the Maldives, “he has to tweet it in English,” Yameen said. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was forced to say so because of the ruling party’s constant criticism and he must now also promise not to allow foreign interference in domestic affairs, he added.

Nearly 100,000 jobs have been created during the past five years, he claimed.

There is no injustice or absence of democracy to warrant sanctions from the European Union and United States, he declared, insisting that political opponents were jailed fairly when they “failed to prove their innocence” at court.

The opposition coalition was forced to ferry supporters from other islands because Malé youth refused to attend its rally, Yameen claimed, joining the debate about turnout at the rival rallies during the weekend.

The rallies took place at the carnival grounds in Malé’s eastern waterfront.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives claimed 30,000 people exclusively from the Greater Malé region showed up Friday night, out of about 47,000 eligible voters. Opposition figures put the number of chairs at about 3,000. But organisers say 10,000 chairs were placed.

The PPM was also accused of forcing civil servants and staff at state-owned enterprises to fill seats. At previous rallies, attendance was marked before entrance through metal detector gates. Opposition supporters joked that a net fence was drawn to prevent people from leaving.

After Saturday night’s opposition rally, ministers and pro-government campaigners put the turnout well below 5,000 and claimed supporters were brought from 35 islands.

Opposition supporters, however, have been celebrating the massive turnout for its first major rally in Malé in three years.

  • Jazeera Raajje to the path of justice: whole carnival area filled with “love” (Raajje)
  • I won’t touch a single cent of the public: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • Former ministers to joint parties rally (Raajje)
  • Umar Zahir in opposition rally (Mihaaru)
  • Former home minister Umar Zahir’s support for Ibu (VFP)
  • The people want change, the government is on ventilator: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • The past five years were the cruellest, most authoritarian, frightening years: Ibu (Vnews)
  • Join the people without being seduced by the allure of a 25-storey “cave”: Ibu (Avas)
  • I won’t be someone who saddles people with debt: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • I won’t issue unlawful orders to police and military: Ibu (Vnews)
  • We will increase civil service salary: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • Civil servant’s salary will be raised: Ibu (Raajje)
  • I won’t encroach on any rights, I won’t touch a single cent: Ibu (Vnews)
  • Voting for Ibu is a national obligation: Abbas (Avas)
  • President Yameen got PPM presidential ticket from a court, not from a vote: Abbas (Raajje)
  • A Republican government rules with the consent of the people: Abbas (Vnews)
  • We’ve seen the result, what the people want is known: Faisal (Mihaaru)
  • The people have decided, we’ve seen the result: Faisal (Vnews)
  • The biggest development is the ability to live with honour: Faisal (Raajje)
  • We’ve seen the result, we’ve won: Faisal (Avas)
  • For the trappings of power, President Yameen became isolated and weakened: President Nasheed (Raajje)
  • The public is ok with the bridge, they’re not ok with theft: President Nasheed (VFP)
  • This is the last chance to dock at a safe shore: Ibu (Avas)
  • Ibu is the reason political parties stayed together for three years: Mariya (Raajje)
  • September 23 is the day tyranny will be sealed: Shidhatha (Raajje)
  • Ibu is the opportunity to secure individual liberty: Eva (Raajje)

In his first major rally speech, opposition candidate Ibu went through a long list of pledges.

Jailed opposition leaders would be freed on day one and an 18-month transitional justice process would be launched. Taxation would be fair and transparent and the environment would be protected in the ‘blue economy’ of Jazeera Raajje (island nation). Fishermen and farmers would be fairly compensated and tourism would be expanded beyond the central atolls. Women’s empowerment policies would be implemented.

The entire population would not have to relocate to the Greater Malé islands, Ibu pledged. Urban centres would be developed in the north and south and housing would be made affordable.

Independent inquiries would be launched into unsolved abductions and murders. Confidence would be restored in the security services. Relations would be repaired with neighbours.

He urged supporters to prepare for the imminent change and to make use of the “final chance” for freedom from tyranny.

Accusing Yameen’s administration of corruption in the lease of islands and alleging inflated costs in its mega-projects, he vowed to be incorruptible.

“There won’t be anyone here who was brought here by force,” he declared to thunderous applause.