The Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress announced Thursday night a list of candidates the opposition coalition led by jailed former president Abdulla Yameen supports for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The list included 27 candidates from the Jumhooree Party, one of four parties in the ruling coalition.
Cracks appeared in the coalition after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party decided to field candidates in all 87 parliamentary constituencies, drawing accusations from the JP of reneging on an agreement to divide seats among the parties.
JP leader Gasim Ibrahim has since kept up attacks against the MDP and former president Mohamed Nasheed, declaring his willingness to work with other parties to jointly contest the April 6 polls.
But along with Vice President Faisal Naseem, the JP’s nominees remain in political posts and the cabinet, including Gasim’s wife Aishath Nahula as transport minister and JP president Ali Waheed as transport minister.
The opposition’s endorsement of JP candidates – including former ministers, the former police chief and eight incumbent lawmakers who switched from the PPM to the JP after September’s presidential election – comes after the JP spokesman and parliamentary group leader denied secret talks between Gasim and former president Yameen.
At a press briefing Thursday night, PPM MP Ibrahim Falah said the list was finalised through negotiations between the pair.
MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla urged the former president’s supporters to vote for candidates in the list.
The goal should be to prevent the MDP from winning a majority, he said. “The state of the nation has reached the point where it can’t be saved without everyone working together,” he added.
Abdul Raheem said disciplinary action will be taken against six PPM or PNC members who are contesting as independents. It was announced on Friday that the party’s ethics committee has decided to expel former home minister Azleen Ahmed, who is contesting in the Hulhumalé constituency.
The PNC leader condemned independent candidates who were claiming to have former president Yameen’s endorsement.
The PPM-PNC coalition did not field any candidates in the constituencies contested by the 27 JP candidates on the list, which includes incumbent Fuvahmulah North MP Ali Shah who is seeking re-election as an independent with the JP support.
However, as the JP is fielding 43 candidates, PPM-PNC candidates will compete against other JP candidates in several constituencies.
The PPM-PNC list also included candidates from former coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance and several independent candidates.
Speaking at a campaign rally Friday night, JP leader Gasim said a list of PPM and PNC candidates that the party supports will be announced on Saturday night.
He thanked the opposition coalition and declared the JP will support their candidates in constituencies where the party is not fielding a candidate.
The business tycoon urged supporters to vote in line with the leadership’s decision.
Members and candidates from both parties have reportedly expressed misgivings about working together due to its history of animosity. Gasim and his son were among several political opponents who were jailed during Yameen’s five-year term.
The JP was part of short-lived coalitions that won all three multi-party presidential elections in the Maldives. The previous coalitions collapsed in a few months with Gasim falling out with both former presidents Nasheed and Yameen.
Photo of PPM-PNC press conference from Sun