President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Thursday resumed campaign trips to canvass support for Maldivian Democratic Party candidates ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The president returned to the campaign trail last Saturday to stump for MDP candidates, stressing the importance of electing lawmakers who would support the party’s ‘Agenda 19’ and help fulfil manifesto pledges.
“Agenda 19 has the details of the pledges we made to come to power. Therefore, to implement Agenda 19, there needs to be people in the People’s Majlis who support the government and accepts Agenda 19,” he said on Keyodhoo island in Vaavu atoll.
The MDP candidate for the Keyodhoo constituency, Hussain Gasim, is contesting with Agenda 19 as his manifesto, he added.
‘Agenda 19’ consists of 19 concept papers that would form the basis of the party’s legislative agenda, including bills to introduce a minimum wage, unemployment benefits and a personal income tax. Other priorities include strengthening the asset disclosure regime, pursuing transitional justice and reforming the judiciary.
President Solih went on to say he would “always remember” that he won September’s election with the backing of coalition partners Jumhooree Party, Adhaalath Party and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
“I will not allow any of those parties, any of those individuals, to suffer any misfortune,” he vowed.
But the election was also won with a manifesto and campaign pledges, he added.
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 since backed 32 opposition candidates in exchange for the endorsement of JP candidates.
Campaigning in Addu City last Saturday, the president criticised lawmakers from coalition partners over their failure to pass legislation on empowering commissions formed to recover stolen funds and find the truth behind high-profile murders and the abduction of a journalist.
He noted the lack of a parliamentary majority during the previous MDP government and urged voters to choose the party’s candidates.
“We will show the difference,” he said.
– Pledges –
On Keyodhoo, Solih went on to repeat pledges to grant legal powers and financial means to local councils. This would enable councils to develop islands and provide services, he said, adding that work is ongoing to submit amendments to the decentralisation law.
The legal changes include introducing a quota to reserve seats for women on local councils, he noted.
“It is for these reasons that the People’s Majlis becomes important. There needs to be people in the People’s Majlis who believe and support the amendments and changes to laws that we are proposing,” he said.
The new SME bank has been registered and will start issuing loans to small businesses next week, he announced, reiterating other key pledges such as establishing water and sewerage on all inhabited islands during his five-year term.
Solih repeated the same message during the second campaign stop on Felidhoo island and backed “the MDP and government’s candidate” Mohamed Mabrook Azeez.
“For a certainty, I won’t support MMPRC candidates,” he said, referring to the theft of US$90 million from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a corruption scandal of unprecedented scale in Maldivian history.
The president is also due to visit islands in Lhaviyani and Noonu atolls this weekend.
On Wednesday, the president’s spokesman Ibrahim Hood told the media that the MDP has been covering the costs of the campaign trips, which began last week with a visit to Guraidhoo in Kaafu atoll, followed by the Addu City trip during the weekend.
Responding to criticism over the use of the official speedboat to travel to the Hulhudhoo island on Saturday, Hood said it was used on the insistence of the Maldives National Defence Force for unspecified security reasons.
The MDP also covered the expenses and ticket costs for the president’s military bodyguards, he said.
President @ibusolih visits Vaavu Keyodhoo on his campaign tour of the atoll today. The president strongly endorsed Hassan Gasim, MDP candidate for Keyodhoo constituency. #Aganda19 #Majlis19Thilafathah pic.twitter.com/jKsLtIKBhe
— Ibrahim Hood (@MvSpokesperson) March 14, 2019