Former president Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday repeated calls for former Maldivian Democratic Party MP ‘Rukuma’ Mohamed Abdul Kareem to withdraw his candidacy for the April 6 parliamentary elections.
The incumbent lawmaker for the Henveiru South constituency in Malé is contesting as an independent after losing the MDP primary in January.
Despite signing a pledge to support the primary’s winner, Rukuma resigned from the MDP last month. The party was no longer able to “tell loyalists and adversaries apart,” he said, a complaint that was echoed by other primary losers who contended the polls were manipulated by members of other parties who joined en masse.
Speaking at a campaign event on Alif Alif Ukulhas, Nasheed – himself an MDP candidate for the Central Machchangoalhi constituency in the capital – suggested the party’s rivals were behind a Supreme Court ruling last month that struck down legal restrictions on primary losers running as independents.
“A group of people have tried very hard to use the Supreme Court to put forward our candidates who lost the primary. They said one thing and another. When the judgment came out, they tried to get people to contest,” he said.
Four candidates who lost the MDP primaries are contesting as independents. Aside from Rukuma, they are Ahmed Fazaa for the Hithadhoo North constituency, Abdulla Jabir for the Kaashidhoo constituency and MP Mohamed Abdulla for the Ihavandhoo constituency.
The latter switched to the MDP from the JP last November.
Some 279 candidates sought the MDP ticket to contest for 77 seats in nationwide internal elections held in early January.
Jabir, a resort owner and former lawmaker, was the candidate who petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down provisions that barred primary losers from contesting.
Campaigning in Addu City last week, Nasheed also lambasted the Hithadhoo North primary loser Fazaa, accusing him of lacking morals or ethics.
But Nasheed has singled out Rukuma for criticism at several campaign events. On Ukulhas, he threatened to personally campaign in the constituency to canvass support for the MDP primary winner.
“Out of 86 constituencies, only one person really came out. Only one person who truly believed MDP’s principles and values: [Rukuma] from Henveiru South. He was a constituent, a council member and an MP,” he said.
“I’m happy because out of 86 constituencies, we only saw one misbehaving boy. I hope [Rukuma] will come back, say he has turned back to the right path and stop doing this. If he continues, I will personally go into every house in Henveiru. With the grace of God, we will claim that seat by an even bigger margin.”
The MP responded by urging his constituents to show the former president the warmest hospitality if he visits their homes.
Nasheed meanwhile went on to reiterate the appeal for votes to choose MDP candidates in the April 6 polls. An MDP parliamentary majority is necessary to forestall a coup against President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, he said.