President Abdulla Yameen took aim at his jailed and exiled rivals at a ruling party rally in Malé’s carnival area Friday night.
Yameen called his speech at the “Heskiyaafa mega rally” a “short story” of events in the Maldives since the first multi-party elections in 2008.
“We’ve heard many nice words and phrases. ‘Nation first.’ What about now? Now the last thing is the nation,” he said, referring to the slogan championed by jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The president’s half-brother, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years, is standing trial on terrorism charges whilst opposition leaders have gone into exile after widely criticised convictions that bar them from September’s polls.
“Democracy, obeying policies, equality, justice, freedom, security from harm, caring for disabled people, building a tolerant society and providing healthcare and education for our children. These are very nice words by politicians. But the only way to measure people is by how much their words and actions match.
“Is there any leader who can now say nation first? All of them are in exile, they made up excuses after they were sentenced to jail, and are hiding abroad. So where is nation first, where is the system, where is democracy? All these people did not want to live with the rules of democracy. All of them want exceptions to be made when things happen to them.”
Addressing allegations of grand corruption, Yameen said: “Show me an opposition leader who can talk about corruption. There isn’t one. If there was, the biggest corruption cases would have been investigated and actions taken would have prevented any further corruption.
“Who are the heroes of this story? These ‘heroes’ who claim they would bring democracy and reform wants to fight the final battle. But how can they? They have to come in front of the people for the final battle. [They have] three years and more [jail terms to serve]. Their final battle won’t happen here. They can fight that battle in the foreign lands they are in. We are here to watch them fight.”
He concluded by challenging the opposition to “write something new” in their manifestos.
“I cannot imagine anything that they can do that I haven’t done. President Yameen did this, we’ll do it more. Why do more? Why not do something new?”
His own re-election manifesto is a “surprise” that will be “gifted” to the people after Eid, he said.