The leadership of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People's National Congress (PNC) have decided to endorse and back the PNC candidate, Malé City Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, in the upcoming presidential election.
The opposition coalition made this decision following intense debates within the senate, stemming from the Supreme Court's ruling against President Abdulla Yameen. The main opposition party, PPM, initially sought to nominate the former president as their candidate for this year's election. However, the Elections Commission (EC) rejected his candidacy.
Despite Yameen and his party appealing his candidacy rejection by the EC to the Supreme Court, the court upheld the commission's decision on August 5, Saturday.
Following his defeat in the Supreme Court, Yameen urged the coalition's leadership to boycott the election if they believed his fundamental right to participate had been infringed upon. However, the coalition opted to nominate Dr. Muizzu for the election. Despite the joint senate's resolution, a number of members within the coalition's leadership refrained from publicly expressing their endorsement for the PNC's candidate.
However, the opposition's leadership has managed to put aside their disagreements and united in endorsing and rallying behind Dr. Muizzu for the upcoming presidential election, which is now less than a month away. The leadership of PPM/PNC held a press conference on the evening of Tuesday, August 8, to formally declare their endorsement.
At the press conference, PNC leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla said that both the parties of the opposition coalition were united behind Dr. Muizzu to ensure his win at the election. Abdul Raheem also said that the coalition will win the upcoming presidential elections for which they have commenced work effective from Tuesday evening.
“All of us are here because we no longer have any disputes, I think that is sufficient,” Abdul Raheem said.
Abdul Raheem also said that the debates within the senate served as a clear indication of the coalition's commitment to democratic principles. He further highlighted that their decision to participate in the election was motivated by the desire to safeguard not only democratic values but also the rights of Yameen.
The PNC leader further said Yameen had devised plans A, B, and C. Following PPM's inability to put forth its candidate, the coalition proceeded with Plan C, which included endorsing Dr. Muizzu as the collective candidate of the coalition, to ensure the parties did not suffer.
“We [senate] did not object to President Yameen, we no longer have any divisiveness or disputes.”
Abdul Raheem said that he believes Dr. Muizzu will secure a substantial victory over the incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is running for re-election.
Dr. Muizzu, who spoke at the press conference, said that his first priority, if elected as president, would be the release of Yameen. He additionally pledged to proceed in alignment with Yameen's guidance and directives.
The PNC candidate also said that he had pleaded President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to shift Yameen into house arrest once his candidacy was confirmed. This plea stemmed from the challenges Yameen's family had encountered, following the recent passing of his mother.
Dr. Muizzu said he did not forget that Yameen was the rightful recipient of the opposition coalition’s candidacy. He added that the disputes within PPM/PNC coalition were reflective of strong democratic principles.
During Tuesday's press conference, members who were previously reported to have expressed reservations about Yameen's plea addressed the media. Among these members were PPM Vice President and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam, PNC Vice Presidents Adam Shareef and Ibrahim Shujau, as well as PNC Vice President Mohamed Saeed, and Mahibadhoo MP Ahmed Thoriq.
Shiyam stated that a campaign event for Dr. Muizzu had not been arranged until Tuesday evening, during which the primary focus was centered on advocating for Yameen's release.
Mahibadhoo MP, who earlier claimed that he will share videos and pictures of the senate discussions with Yameen, said Tuesday’s rally was not a campaign event. “We did not endorse anyone specifically at the rally,” Thoriq said.
Shujau on the other hand, said that the coalition’s leadership would not hold a joint press conference if they did not endorse Dr. Muizzu and his running mate Hussain Mohamed Latheef.
Abdul Raheem assured no one can divide the opposition’s leadership in the future and claimed the PPM/PNC coalition will emerge as the most unified opposition.