Transport Minister Aishath Nahula has publicly opposed the decision of her party’s leader to support opposition candidates for the April 6 parliamentary elections.
Earlier this week, Speaker Gasim Ibrahim – Nahula’s husband and Jumhooree Party leader – announced the ruling coalition party’s endorsement of 32 opposition candidates in exchange for the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress alliance’s support for JP candidates.
But Nahula, a JP council member, told Raajje TV at an event on Wednesday night that she would never support opposition candidates.
“Any candidate backed by [former president] Abdulla Yameen does not have my support. I will remain with the government. I believe that the JP will also remain in the government coalition,” she was quoted as saying.
“I believe that we have done some good work when the presidential election campaign ended. During the campaign, I stated very clearly that I will never forgive Yameen.”
Gasim and his son were among several political opponents who were jailed or forced into exile during Yameen’s five-year term.
Despite the endorsement of opposition candidates, Gasim insisted the Jumhooree Party remains part of the Maldivian Democratic Party-led coalition along with the Adhaalath Party and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Maldives Reform Movement.
The business tycoon made the deal with the opposition parties after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s MDP decided not to divide the 87 constituencies among the four coalition parties.
Gasim has since assailed the MDP and former president Mohamed Nasheed. He also repeatedly called for Yameen’s release after the opposition leader was detained on money laundering charges.
Other cabinet ministers have meanwhile declared their allegiance to President Solih after Gasim confirmed the deal with the PPM-PNC.
“I have taken an oath to remain loyal to the Maldivian people, the country and president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. I will not join the ideology of PPM/PNC after rejecting the people from JP/AP/MRM in the MDP’s reform effort. I will defend the government,” tweeted Tourism Minister Ali Waheed.
Backing the coalition to stay together, Environment Minister Hussain Rasheed Hassan declared he would defend the government.
“A true member of JP will not vote for PPM/PNC,” he suggested.
The JP also came under fire from MDP MP Eva Abdulla on Wednesday night, who called on the party to make a clearer stand.
“You can’t form coalitions with two groups. You can’t be in a coalition with the government and form a coalition with the opposition at the same time,” she said in an appearance on Raajje TV.