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Speaker Nasheed envisions a bright future for democracy in the Maldives

25 September 2023, MVT 16:14
Speaker of Parliament Former President Mohamed Nasheed speaking to media yesterday.
25 September 2023, MVT 16:14

Speaker of Parliament and former President Mohamed Nasheed has expressed confidence that the mechanisms of governance in the Maldives will continue to operate smoothly, and he believes that the future for democracy in the Maldives is very bright.

The former president made this statement in response to a question from a journalist about whether he will support current president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih or opposition candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu in the second round of the presidential election.

Nasheed was speaking at the press conference he held yesterday shortly after meeting with president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the President's Office. This is the first time the two had a formal meeting after the differences in opinion within the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which resulted in Nasheed leaving the party and forming The Democrats.

Speaker Nasheed said that he discussed the matter of the referendum proposed by The Democrats during a meeting with president Solih. The referendum to determine the system of government for the Maldives is scheduled for October 29. During the press conference, Nasheed advocated for the parliamentary system, which he has consistently supported, and outlined the characteristics of such a system.

During the press conference, the majority of the questions posed by journalists revolved around Nasheed's choice of support in the second round of the presidential election.

Nasheed said, "I do not think there is any problem for the Maldives. The future for democracy in Maldives is very bright."

Nasheed said the governance mechanisms of the Maldives will always run smoothly and that state institutions, the parliament, the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), police and civil servants are there to ensure this. He said that the people therefore had nothing to be concerned about.

Nasheed, who has heavily criticised the current government following differences of opinion within MDP, did not provide direct responses to questions regarding allegations of bribery and corruption associated with the current government during the press conference. Additionally, he offered a general response when questioned about the major promises being made by the candidates.

Press conference held by Nasheed yesterday -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Nasheed said that even though some of the things that are being pledged have not been included in the budget, he believes that whoever becomes president for the next term will revise the budget.

"Changing the the pension given to the elderly will require MVR 336 million per year. There will be difficulties. That money has not been budgeted. It is not in the Finance Ministry budget either. However, there is an opportunity to submit small budgets. The presidential candidate who assumes office after an election has always revised budgets. I believe this is how things will happen," said Nasheed.

Nasheed said he is currently focused on the change to be brought to the system of government. He reiterated that this will be the best option for the people and that this was the only matter discussed during the meeting with president Solih.

"The discussion was not about me or the president. Or any other leader. The discussion was related to the people of Maldives. We strongly believe that the existing situation of the people will greatly improve and people will prosper through a change in the system," said Nasheed.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih meets with Speaker of Majlis Mohamed Nasheed at the President's Office. -- Photo: The President's Office

Responding to journalists' questions about his support for the second round of election, Nasheed said he still supports Ilyas Labeeb, the presidential candidate of The Democrats and the same candidate he supported during the first round. Nasheed highlighted the decision taken by The Democrats not to support any candidate during the second round.

He referred to Article 111(b) of the Constitution of Maldives which states that if any of the two candidates contesting in the second round withdraws from the election, the candidate receiving the third highest number of votes in the first round may stand for election in the second round. The third highest number of votes in the first round was received by Ilyas Labeeb, presidential candidate of The Democrats. He secured 15,000 votes in the first round of election held on September 9.

"I believe that the best option for the Maldives and for MDP is for me to hold on to my stand. Look at Article 111. I will support Ilyas Labeeb." said Nasheed.

He referred to the story of a little duckling he learned about in school, which talks about a duckling who is afraid of the sky falling down. "If this happens tomorrow, the sky will fall down on our heads. A duck that is afraid this will happen. I must say, I am not that duck." said Nasheed.

Speaking further at the press conference Nasheed urged both candidates contesting in the second round of election, not to involve any other countries in the election.

Nasheed at yesterday's press conference held at the People's Majlis

Nasheed said, "I must say however, that candidates should not involve other countries in this election."

The opposition has made allegations that India is exerting influence on the election.

"This is our election. The people of Maldives will vote. We are electing a President for the Maldives. Therefore, I think it would be better if we did not do things that way [involve other countries in the election]," said Nasheed.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who has been a long time friend of Nasheed before the differences in opinion within the MDP, said that he asked Nasheed for support in the second round of election during the meeting held yesterday.