Mind the gap: Opposition manifesto launched with key details missing
The Maldives president has labelled the opposition a ‘cocktail coalition.’
Pledges and policies from the Maldives joint opposition were published Sunday in an election manifesto, although key details are missing from it.
Four opposition parties are challenging President Abdulla Yameen’s rule on a coalition ticket in an election scheduled for September 23.
The coalition comprises the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, the Jumhooree Party and the Maumoon Reform Movement, a breakaway faction of the ruling party.
All four opposition leaders are either in prison or in exile. They are Mohamed Nasheed (MDP), Sheikh Imran Abdulla (AP), Gasim Ibrahim (JP) and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The manifesto says a coalition agreement signed by the four leaders must be approved through parliament within 30 days of the coalition government securing a parliamentary majority.
They are required to sign an agreement which explains the steps to be taken if the coalition falls apart, but the manifesto does not include details of the agreement.
Nor is there any mention of key manifesto elements unveiled earlier by the MDP, including the switch to a parliamentary system and changing the elected government after 18 months.
All opposition parties, except the main Maldivian Democratic Party, are against a parliamentary system. The joint manifesto says the constitution will be amended to review the governing system but, again, no details are given.
The manifesto says a multi-party unity government will work to establish justice and return to democratic values within the first two years of the administration.
Yameen, who is campaigning for a second term, has mocked the four-party alliance as a “cocktail coalition” of former rivals who fail to agree on fundamental issues.
The joint opposition’s presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, from the MDP, and his JP running mate Faisal Naseem have made several pledges while crisscrossing the country in their campaign tour.
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives is expected to unveil its manifesto at a rally scheduled for Tuesday night.
Here are the main policies from the coalition manifesto:
- Free education up to first degree
- Low-interest loan schemes
- Restructuring scholarship schemes
- Decentralising education through boarding schools, regional hostels and distance learning
- Single-session schools
- Increase pay and allowances for teachers
- Training centres in seven regions for tourism professionals
- Establish a national research centre
Caring Health System
- Expand Aasandha health care to more countries
- Child health protection ensured through schools
- Steps to increase life expectancy
- Establish regional psychiatric centres
- Establish four regional hospitals with specialist doctors
- Establish specialised hospitals in three regions
- Establish a national mental health institute
- Retirement homes will be opened
- Introduce veterinary service
- Revise salary structures (pay hike for nurses and health workers)
- Legal framework on medical negligence and mental health
National Security Strategy and Defence Policy
- Protect Islamic faith
- Principles of prevention and defence diplomacy
- Neutral foreign policy to respect jurisdiction of other countries
- Protection to visitors and foreign workers
- Create a national defence law
- National security council, national command authority and foreign ministry will work closely with defence ministry
- Defence ministry will have civil control of the Maldives National Defence Force
- Measures to stop cyber-economic crimes
- Measures against pirates and smugglers
- Combatant command service will be provided in four regions
- Housing will be provided for 20,000 families
- 4,000 families from Male’ will get housing
- Introduce housing subsidy
- Free housing for families that cannot afford rent
- Policy for first-time home buyers
- Home construction loan scheme
- Bank interest for home loans will be lowered to six percent
- Direct sales with foreign vessels
- Expanding fishing in the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone
- Fisheries loans and financing
- Abolish import duty from diesel
- Fishermen training programs
- Developing mariculture, aquaculture and reef fishing
- Pension for long-serving fishermen
Tourism profits to all
- Foreign travel agencies will be regulated to protect local travel agents
- Easy financing for guest house industry
- Island councils to market guest house islands
- Launch Islamic tourism
- Tourism diversification to target millennials
- Rehabilitating dying reefs
- Minimum 35,000 beds in five years
- Training at least 30,000 locals
- Ensure service charge for employees
- Review rule on minimum number of local staff (resorts with low local employees low must contribute to a fund for tourism training and a tax incentive will be given if a resort has high number of local employees)