President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has addressed the growing rift between him and Mohamed Nasheed, Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) President and Speaker of the Parliament, stating that the fundamental cause of their disagreement is the fact that he currently holds the office of the President.
At a press conference held at the President’s Office on Wednesday, a reporter asked the President what caused the initial falling out between the former president and the incumbent president. In response, Solih stated that the fundamental difference between the two leaders was caused by his current position as the President.
“[Former] President Nasheed is someone who has always wanted to be in power. This disagreement was caused because I currently hold the office,” Solih stated.
Before making this statement, Solih said that there were always matters on which he and Nasheed disagreed. He said that he had varied with some of Nasheed’s policies when the latter was in office, but that he recognised and understood that there were certain procedures that came with being president. He also acknowledged that, as the head of state, decisions can only be made after discussions with relevant authorities.
“Today, I have to make decisions…and I can’t make a decision that would benefit a certain individual in attaining a certain goal, without discussing it with everyone I have to,” the President said, alluding to Nasheed’s campaign to change the political system in the Maldives from a presidential system to a parliamentary system.
Although Solih did not explicitly indicate that this was the cause, it is widely speculated that the rift between the two lifelong friends was caused by Nasheed’s ploy to change the system of governance during Solih’s presidency.
In another question, Solih was asked whether he supported Nasheed’s efforts to change the system of governance; the reporter highlighted how MDP had previously campaigned for a parliamentary system.
The President reiterated that changing the system of governance is not a pledge made in their current manifesto. He emphasised that the Maldives currently has a coalition government, and the pledges they are fulfilling are the ones in the manifesto that were agreed to by the ruling coalition.
“If we do something that is not in the manifesto, we’ll have to discuss with the rest of the coalition.”
While MDP’s manifesto for the 2018 presidential election includes a clause to change the system of governance to elect a Prime Minister in the Maldives, the manifesto on which the joint coalition of MDP, Jumhoory Party, Adhaalath Party and Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) ran does not specify the change in governance
During the press conference, the President expressed confidence in his ability to secure majority votes in the upcoming MDP presidential primary election, slated for January 28. He said that he believes the current government has done a good job of fulfilling the pledges made in the joint coalition’s manifesto.