President Abdulla Yameen underscored Tuesday night his campaign pitch of delivering island infrastructure and pursuing an ambitious development agenda.
Speaking at a ruling party rally on the island of Meedhoo, Yameen said the dividing line in Maldivian politics at present is between “development and obstructing development”.
“There are two ideologies in the Maldives now, that is, do we opt for the path of development that would take the Maldives to the tallest heights that we want, or do we remain forever at the crossroads,” he said.
He excoriated estranged partners such as former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who are now allied with the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, contending that they are driven by self-interest instead of political principles.
“There are no political ideologies here. If there was a political ideology, I don’t see how political leaders would dare leave the house if they could hear their criticisms of the government when President [Mohamed] Nasheed was in power,” he said.
He went on to call the opposition coalition’s bid to seize the parliament’s majority “a coup d’etat.” The former ruling party lawmakers who defected when Gayoom joined forces with the opposition should apologise to their constituents, he demanded.
The MPs committed “a serious offence” by leaving the party because they were elected to help fulfil manifesto pledges, he added.
“A more serious offence is the traitorous act of taking away so many MPs at once, that is nothing but a coup in my book,” he said, reiterating allegations of bribery against the opposition.
In late August, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was found guilty of attempted bribery and sentenced in absentia to more than three years in prison. Gayoom’s son, MP Faris Maumoon, is also on trial on a bribery charge over the opposition’s attempt to remove the speaker of parliament.
MP Mohamed Ameeth, who represents the Meedhoo and Maduvvari constituency, is among seven former ruling party lawmakers who were contentiously stripped of their seats for crossing the floor.
Yameen said he would be “saddened” if the ruling party fails to win the upcoming Maduvvari by-election, urging supporters of the Progressive Party of Maldives not to contest as independents against the party’s candidate.
He also pledged to build an international airport in Raa atoll. The current administration’s vision involves building more bridges, undertaking large-scale projects and tripling GDP per capita, he said.
During his official visit to three Raa atoll islands Tuesday, Yameen inaugurated the sewerage system in Madduvari and attended a function to mark the completion of the island’s shore protection project. He also inaugurated the harbour on the island of Fainu as well as water and sewerage services on Meedhoo.
Also on Meedhoo, Yameen opened the Masjidul Awwaabeen mosque built with grant aid from the Saudi king.
During the weekend, First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim meanwhile travelled to the opposition stronghold of Addu City on a campaign visit with the ministers for housing, economic development, and environment.
At a rally Saturday night, the ministers pledged to complete new roads, sewerage systems, housing units, and a tertiary hospital before the 2018 presidential election.
In a rare interview before returning to Malé, the first lady – who launched Yameen’s re-election campaign earlier this year – told state media that the support from the southernmost atoll showed “appreciation of the president’s service”.
Yameen’s four-year administration has been beset by multiple political crises triggered by the jailing of political opponents, a corruption scandal of historic proportions, and a bitter leadership dispute that split the ruling party.