The Jumhooree Party has opposed coalition partner the Maldivian Democratic Party’s proposals to appoint foreign judges and shift to a parliamentary system.
In an open letter Wednesday night, exiled JP leader Gasim Ibrahim asked the opposition coalition to accept 11 nationalistic pledges proposed by the party.
Citing its exit from short-lived coalitions that won power in 2008 and 2013, JP called its pledges “important components that must be included among the main pillars and fundamentals of the coalition agreement”.
After weeks of bickering over a single candidate, the coalition agreed last Friday to field an MDP presidential candidate with a JP running mate. The MDP’s national congress appointed Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ as its candidate and the JP is due to announce the vice presidential candidate on July 10.
After he was awarded the ticket, Ibu told congress delegates that the MDP should invite coalition partners to propose changes to its ‘blue economy’ manifesto.
“But we will not bring any change that would affect MDP’s main fundamentals,” he added.
He reiterated the stance Wednesday night at a training session for MDP campaign agents in the capital, stressing the value of compromise to maintain the coalition.
The MDP’s manifesto pledge to appoint foreign judges as part of its judicial reform plans also drew criticism from religious scholars of another coalition partner, the Adhaalath Party.
Non-Muslim judges passing judgment over Maldivians was unacceptable, declared Sheikh Ilyas Hussain.
The Maldives constitution requires judges to be Muslims and followers of the Sunni school.
The main opposition party’s longstanding proposal to shift to a parliamentary system also divided opinion, with some of its lawmakers publicly expressing concerns.
The MDP argues the change is necessary because voters were unwilling in past elections to grant a popular mandate to a single candidate, forcing parties to form coalitions. But coalition agreements have no legal weight under the Maldivian constitution, which was designed for a US-style presidential system.
- Not do anything that could undermine Islam to any extent.
- The four parties to stay together in coalition government, respect differences of opinion and not dismiss party officials from government posts or reduce agreed upon share of government and parliament.
- Not diminish the powers and responsibilities of the police and military to any extent, whether by law or otherwise. Not bring foreign soldiers to serve the Maldivian state in any capacity under any circumstances.
- Not appoint foreign judges under any circumstances. Free the Judicial Service Commission and judges from political influence.
- Not give up any strategic investment of the state or main gateways of the country in a manner that disrupts Maldivian sovereignty. Such important assets should always remain under full power of the government.
- Repeal amendments brought to the constitution to set an upper age limit for the presidency and authorise foreign freeholds. Reverse legal changes that conflict with the spirit of the 2008 constitution, especially laws that infringed on the rights of free expression, free press as well as the rights of the People’s Majlis, lawmakers and judges.
- Not accept the legalisation of any kind of drugs, strong or otherwise.
- Announce the coalition manifesto and all parties to work towards its implementation. Provide compensation and ensure justice for all citizens who have suffered injury, been killed, been abducted, jailed, banished, or had property damaged.
- Not change the system of government.
- Rejoin the Commonwealth, strengthen ties with international community and establish independent foreign policy
- Form a council with coalition leaders to make all major decisions of coalition government.