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On campaign trail, President Solih appeals for MDP majority

The second MDP government will “show the difference” with a parliament majority, he said.



President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih returned to the campaign trail on Saturday to stump for Maldivian Democratic Party candidates ahead of the April 6 parliamentary elections.

At four campaign events for the MDP’s candidates in Addu City, Solih urged voters to elect lawmakers who would support the party’s legislative agenda, which he stressed was necessary to deliver manifesto pledges.

“[During the presidential campaign] we talked about recovering money stolen from state coffers, finding out and revealing what happened to people who were murdered and disappeared. We also talked about reforming the judiciary,” he said on Meedhoo.

“We talked about the need to make the People’s Majlis a place with integrity. At the point we have reached today, we need to bring changes to the People’s Majlis. It has become difficult to do these things without the full support of the People’s Majlis,” he said, referring to the “sabotage” of government-sponsored legislation on empowering inquiry commissions despite the ruling coalition’s majority.

Solih acknowledged the backing of coalition partners in securing his decisive victory against former president Abdulla Yameen in September’s election.

None of the partners would “face any harm or misfortune from the work we’re doing,” he assured.

The four coalition parties are standing alone for the April 6 polls after the MDP decided to field candidates in all 87 constituencies. Accusing the MDP on reneging on an agreement on dividing seats, the Jumhooree Party has backed 32 opposition candidates in exchange for the endorsement of 27 JP candidates.

Speaking on the Hithadhoo island, Solih noted the lack of a parliamentary majority during the previous MDP government.

“Go on and give the People’s Majlis majority to us this time. We will show the difference,” he appealed, adding that an MDP majority would “exponentially” speed up the fulfilment of pledges.

Accompanied by former president Mohamed Nasheed – himself a candidate for a newly-formed constituency in the capital Malé – Solih travelled to Addu City on Friday and attended a rally to launch the campaign of the MDP’s seven candidates.

At the Maradhoo rally, the president announced an MVR5.3 billion (US$343 million) five-year project for the southernmost atoll. The project to “repopulate” the second city includes adding 8,000 tourist beds, constructing roads, reclaiming land, providing social housing, developing an international airport, and building a fish harbour and processing factory.

Other components include a sports complex, swimming pool, football stadium, an Islamic centre, and the country’s largest drug rehabilitation centre.

He reiterated pledges to devolve more powers and financial autonomy to island and city councils.

– Coup –

Solih’s speeches on Saturday were followed by warnings of a coup from former president Nasheed.

The executive would be “weakened” and vulnerable without a parliament majority, he contended.

Nasheed – who resigned as president in the wake of a violent mutiny by rogue elements of the police and military – said efforts to oust him began in parliament. Bribes were offered to six MDP lawmakers, he recalled.

He laid out the stages in the build-up to overthrowing a government. It begins with no-confidence votes against cabinet ministers, followed by obstruction and blocking of funds for projects.

As a consequence, judges and members of independent bodies become politicised, he continued, after which the police and military lose confidence in the government.

“When that happens, as you know there among us those who are practised in perpetrating coups even if I don’t name them, these people then start spending the dirty money of bribery on institutions,” he said.