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Campaign trail: war of pledges, retirement age and interim rule

Daily round-up of news from the campaign trail.



With the presidential election less than 40 days away, this is the first of a daily round-up of headlines made by the candidates, running mates and their surrogates on the campaign trail. 

August 13

  • Many pledges from President Yameen for Thimarafushi (Mihaaru)
  • Will build roads, award plots of land, and establish a BML branch in Thimarafushi: President Yameen (Sun)
  • Whose face will emerge after a year and a half should be cleared up: President Yameen (Mihaaru)
  • Ibu is pledging to do what the government is doing, not pledging anything new: President Yameen (Sun)
  • Maldivians want Yameen development, not a Jazeera Raajje: President Yameen (Avas)
  • Talking of death penalty has brought an end to murders: President Yameen (Avas)

On the first stop of his three-day tour of Thaa atoll, Yameen inaugurated water services on Thimarafushi island and pledged to open a Bank of Maldives branch, award plots of land, and to lay tar on a one-kilometre road that leads to the island’s airport.

Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ is pledging to continue ongoing projects without promising anything new, Yameen said, adding that his development model was superior to the opposition’s Jazeera Raajje (island nation) concept. He lambasted the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s proposal for an 18-month interim government, questioning how pledges could be fulfilled within that period.

Criticising the alleged absence of a pledge to maintain the country’s 100-percent Muslim status in the MDP manifesto, Yameen claimed murders were no longer committed on the same “scale” since he vowed to implement the death penalty.

  • Benefits will increase when retirement age is raised: President Yameen (Mihaaru)
  • Allowance will be given despite going to work after turning 65: President Yameen (Sun)
  • “No compulsion to work until 74 years of age” (Avas)
  • Retirement age will be raised as a voluntary matter: President Yameen (VFP)
  • Opposition lacks energy to recover lost money: President Yameen (PSM)
  • President pours criticism over opposition pledges (Avas)
  • It’s not just big islands that need development (Sun)
  • Opposition people unable to submit re-registration forms stormed elections at the last minute: President (Sun)

In his Thimarafushi speech, Yameen defended his proposal to raise the retirement age from 65 to 74, denying the opposition’s claim that the MVR5,000 (US$324) monthly old age allowance would be discontinued. Senior citizens who continue in government jobs after 65 would receive a higher allowance, he said, stressing that no one would be forced to work beyond the present retirement age. The policy change targets workers such as teachers, doctors and nurses who do not wish to retire, he said.

Speaking on Kandoodhoo island, Yameen criticised the opposition’s pledge to recover stolen assets, saying the MDP government was unable to do so during its three years in power. Individuals involved in a corruption scandal from the 1990s were part of the opposition team, he alleged.

  • We will serve for five years, not campaign: Faisal (Mihaaru)
  • In opposition government, Majlis won’t be brought under president’s power: Faisal (Avas)
  • New resorts will be developed in Haa Dhaal: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • Petition for Ibu to develop resort near Vaikaradhoo (Avas)
  • Taxi board purchase price will be abolished entirely: Ibu (Avas)
  • Ibu’s aim: protect the Neykurendhoo mangrove forest and gain benefits (Avas)
  • Ongoing projects won’t be stopped: Ibu (Mihaaru)
  • Under education policy, schools will change to single-session: Ibu (Raajje)
  • Warm welcome for Ibu on Kulhudhuffushi (Avas)
  • Kulhudhuffushi will be made a city and developed as urban centre: Ibu (Raajje)
  • Vote Ibu for justice and compassionate government: Ali Hussain (Raajje)
  • People will say no to Yameen as they say no to theft: Gafoor (Raajje)
  • Raising retirement age is to cut MVR5,000 benefits: Shahid (Raajje)
  • President Yameen has betrayed trust: Maleeh (Raajje)

In his 13-island tour of the Faafu and Dhaalu atolls, opposition running mate Faisal Naseem said the coalition government would rule for five years, a stance since reiterated by several figures in the joint opposition. The process of seeking public opinion before finalising the coalition manifesto – as opposed to the MDP ‘blue economy’ manifesto – is ongoing, the lawmaker said.

Ibu Solih meanwhile accepted a petition from the people of Vaikaradhoo for developing resorts in the northern Haa Dhaal atoll. The opposition candidate pledged to develop resorts for job creation by facilitating investment. On Neykurendhoo, he pledged to declare the island’s mangrove forest – the third largest in Asia – a protected area and introduce guesthouse tourism. He reiterated pledges to empower island councils and pursue a decentralisation policy.

On Monday night, the opposition held a rally on Kulhudhuffushi, the main population hub of the northern atolls. Ibu took half an hour to shake the hands of the large welcome party in the MDP stronghold. In his speech, he pledged to continue development projects after reviewing contracts where wrongdoing was suspected, such as inflated costs.

In an MDP-led coalition government, Kulhudhuffushi will be accorded city status and developed as the northern urban centre, he said. Ibu made numerous pledges for the island, including upgrading the hospital to tertiary level, lowering tariffs for its port and building an airport in line with the people’s wishes.

  • I can only broaden my work if you vote for Yameen: Fathun (Mihaaru)
  • Vote Yameen if you want to broaden social assistance: Fathmath Ibrahim (PSM)
  • “If Yameen is re-elected for a second term, the claws of ideological warfare will weaken” (PSM)
  • We don’t have philosophy of anti-campaigning: Dr Shaheem (PSM)
  • Foreigners are behind efforts to topple President Yameen’s government: Shaheem (Sun)

Kicking off a 13-island tour of Baa atoll, the first lady told Kihaadhoo islanders that she enjoys working closely with the public but voters need to re-elect Yameen for her to continue the charity work and help the disabled, single mothers and people with special needs.

Over on the southern island of Fuvuhmulah, running mate Dr Mohamed Shaheem said Yameen was the only president who would not allow any space for irreligious, secular or anti-Islamic people. Aside from responding to allegations, the ruling party was conducting a “positive, constructive, compassionate” campaign, he claimed.

He also alleged that foreigners were behind alleged attempts to remove Yameen from office.