The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party made a U-turn last week after withdrawing support for a parliamentary candidate accused of domestic violence.
After the MDP withdrew support for Thinadhoo North candidate Abdul Mughni citing “serious allegations” on social media raised by his ex-wife, supporters in the southern stronghold protested the decision and Mughni posted a letter from police saying there was no domestic violence complaint against him on record.
Contrary to the MDP spokeswoman’s assertion that leadership figures will not be campaigning for Mughni, former president Mohamed Nasheed took part in a rally in Thinadhoo on Wednesday night and endorsed Mughni as the MDP candidate.
Nasheed, also the party’s president, draped sashes on Mughni and other candidates from the southern atoll that read ‘Candidate of MDP members.’
“Our internal mechanisms decide our candidates. When those candidates are elected, they become the candidates supported by president Nasheed, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, our vice president [Mohamed] Shifaz and all other MDP members,” he declared.
Asked about the apparent reversal at her daily press briefing on Thursday, MDP spokeswoman Afshan Latheef told reporters the party and campaign team had no further comment on the issue.
The alleged incidents of abuse occurred 11 years ago. Mughni’s ex-wife raised the issue after he sought the MDP’s ticket in November.
He went on win the primary election in January with over 60 percent of the vote.
When the party withdrew support, Mughni maintained his innocence and criticised the MDP’s decision to take action without questioning him. He stressed that he was never charged with a crime.
After Mughni publicised a letter from police that appeared to clear him of the domestic violence allegations, his ex-wife also wrote to police and asked for information about a case she had filed against Mughni.
In response, police confirmed that a physical assault by her boyfriend while she was on her way home from a tuition class had been reported on May 13, 2000. But she did not wish to press charges after the unnamed man apologised.
The controversy has prompted calls for background checks and a more thorough vetting process before candidates are allowed to contest in a primary.
Mughni’s opponents in the April 6 parliamentary elections are independent candidate Ikleel Adam and incumbent MP Saudhulla Hilmy, who is seeking re-election with the support of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.