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President warns of coup without MDP majority

President Solih has been campaigning for MDP candidates ahead of the April 6 polls.



The government would be vulnerable to a coup attempt if the Maldivian Democratic Party fails to win a majority of seats in the April 6 parliamentary elections, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih warned Saturday night.

Speaking at a rally on Velidhoo island in Noonu atoll, the president touted the MDP’s ‘Agenda 19’ as a detailed plan to deliver pledges and reiterated his appeal to elect MDP candidates.

“There should be MPs in the People’s Majlis who support and accept [Agenda 19]. We need to have a majority there. If not, just as before, we will have to face [a situation] where the government is halted, pledges cannot be unfulfilled, and eventually we will head in the direction of a big coup,” he said.

The Maldives would go backwards by several years if an elected government is toppled again, he added.

Solih was echoing warnings repeatedly made by former president Mohamed Nasheed in recent weeks.

On the campaign trail with the president in Addu City earlier this month, Nasheed warned the executive would be “weakened” without a parliament majority.

Nasheed – who resigned as president in the wake of a violent mutiny by elements of the police and military in February 2012 – alleged that efforts to oust him began in parliament. Bribes were offered to six MDP lawmakers, he recalled.

The coup plot begins with no-confidence votes against ministers, followed by obstruction and blocking of funds for projects, he said. In the last stage, judges and members of independent bodies as well as the police and military become politicised and accept bribes to undermine the government, Nasheed contended.

– “Obstruction” –

At a panel discussion Friday night, Nasheed said the executive’s “hands and feet will be tied” without an MDP parliament majority. He stressed the importance of a public mandate for ‘Agenda 19’ to implement the president’s manifesto.

‘Agenda 19’ consists of 19 concept papers that would form the basis of the MDP’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.

As part of the MDP’s legislative agenda, President Solih pledged at Saturday night’s rally that the decentralisation law would be amended to provide “a large portion” of tax revenue generated in an atoll to local councils.

After campaigning in Vaavu atoll, Solih travelled to his native Hinnavaru island on Friday and visited the neighbouring Naifaru island. He endorsed the MDP candidates in both constituencies.

At a rally on Hinnavaru, the president made several pledges for islands in Lhaviyani atoll, including expanding health centres, building housing units and shore protection projects to tackle beach erosion.

He repeated the assurance that coalition partners who helped secure his victory in September’s presidential election would not “suffer any harm or misfortune.”

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

Speaking on Kurendhoo island Saturday afternoon, Solih said there were “challenges and difficulties” in fulfilling pledges due to the lack of cooperation from the current parliament despite the ruling coalition’s majority.

He repeated criticism of lawmakers from coalition partners over the failure to pass legislation on empowering commissions formed to recover stolen funds and investigate unresolved murders and the abduction of a journalist.

“There are efforts within the People’s Majlis as well against our work to eliminate corruption and theft. While efforts to find [the truth about] murdered and disappeared people began on the first day of our administration, this has been obstructed from within the People’s Majlis to this day,” he said.