The Maldivian Democratic Party and coalition partner Adhaalath Party have reached an agreement to back each other’s candidates in six constituencies for the April 6 parliamentary elections.
The breakthrough came on Sunday after the MDP candidate for the Alif Dhaal Mahibadhoo constituency dropped out of the race. As ballot papers have not been printed yet, the Elections Commission accepted Ali Ahmed’s request to withdraw his candidacy.
Shortly thereafter, the MDP endorsed Adhaalath Party candidates for the Mahibadhoo constituency and the opposition-stronghold Nilandhoo constituency. The latter is the only one out of 87 constituencies where the MDP is not fielding a candidate.
The AP declared support for MDP candidates contesting for the Hoarafushi, Kendhikulhudhoo, Alifushi and Faresmaathoda seats.
The announcement was made by AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla at a campaign rally in Malé for the MDP’s Faresmaathoda candidate Fathuhulla Ahmed.
The MDP and AP alliance – which was formed in March 2015 – could be “further unified and strengthened” in the future, Home Minister Imran said at Sunday night’s rally.
In his speech, former president Mohamed Nasheed backed the alliance to last and heaped praise on the AP.
If the MDP and AP stay together, “there is no other political group that could break our ranks and rattle the Maldivian government,” he declared.
The MDP would be bolstered by the AP’s religious credentials and “capabilities in expressing the principles of the holy religion of Islam,” he added.
“Therefore, when these two parties come together, Maldivians God willing can have the perfect Maldives that they want,” he said.
The AP had played a pivotal role in the opposition during Nasheed’s three-year administration, accusing him of pursuing secularist or anti-Islamic policies. The bitter rivals later united in opposition against former president Abdulla Yameen, during whose five-year term both Nasheed and Imran were jailed on terrorism charges.
– Alone and together –
Last month, the AP decided to field 13 candidates after failed talks with the MDP on jointly contesting in several constituencies.
On February 5, the MDP’s national council deliberated a proposal by the AP to back its candidates for Vaikaradhoo, Makunudhoo, Mahibadhoo, Kaashidhoo, Milandhoo and Fuvahmulah South.
The MDP leadership decided to negotiate with the candidates that won the party’s ticket in the six constituencies. However, none of the primary winners agreed to relinquish their tickets.
Aside from the MDP and AP agreement to campaign together in six constituencies, the four parties in the ruling coalition that brought President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to power are standing alone for the parliamentary polls.
In most constituencies, candidates from the coalition parties are competing against each other as well as opposition and independent candidates.
The fourth coalition partner, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Maldives Reform Movement, is also fielding candidates in several constituencies.
Last week, Gayoom reaffirmed support for the coalition and and thanked a JP minister who publicly opposed the party leader’s decision to endorse opposition candidates.