Speaker of the Parliament and the President of main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mohamed Nasheed on Thursday criticised President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih stating that the President was attempting to consolidate power.
During the sixth episode of 'Ask Speaker' program, where Nasheed responds to questions from the public in real-time, the former president was asked whether he regretted "handing over" MDP's presidential ticket to Solih and campaigning for him in the 2018 presidential election.
In response, he said that he and the President worked well together until 2019; however, after that, Solih began consolidating power. "It is in the nature of being president," he added, referring to the president's alleged attempt to consolidate power.
Although Nasheed did not reveal details, he said that the president attempted to establish "another network" but abandoned his efforts in the middle of this year. He believes the President found it challenging to "create another network while MDP was still there."
Nasheed further said that it was evident that the president abandoned the attempt after MDP's internal elections were held in May 2022 when the party's chairperson was elected.
"After [the MDP election], in my opinion, there is nowhere to turn. It was sad how certain things unfolded in the last five years," Nasheed said, before moving on to the next question.
During MDP's internal elections, President Solih favoured Minister of Economic Development, Fayyaz Ismail, while Speaker Nasheed endorsed Maafannu-North MP Imthiyaz Fahmy. Minister Fayyaz won 58 percent of the votes while MP Fahmy won 42 percent.
Before making the allegation, Nasheed affirmed that his top priority will always be to uphold democratic principles in the country, and expressed concern over the inflating foreign debt and the possibility of hitting default. He also shared his concerns over the depleting national reserves and the inflation rate.
In another question posed by the public, Nasheed was asked if he would back Solih if he did not win the MDP presidential primary, and whether he would consider working with the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress's (PNC) presidential candidate former President Abdulla Yameen.
Speaker Nasheed was critical of President Solih's administration in his response, stating that MDP members should observe the progress of Solih administration's capacity to fulfil the pledges made during the 2018 presidential election. The party members do not believe that the administration has been successful in fulfilling them, Nasheed said, emphasising that there were very specific and technical pledges made in MDP's manifesto.
"Fulfilling pledges does not entail doing whatever, without considering whether an island is small or big, and carrying out projects," Nasheed said, retorting to Solih administration's policy of carrying out developmental projects regardless of the population or size of an island.
In response to whether he would be open to working with Yameen, Nasheed first highlighted how MDP formed a coalition with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoon in the 2018 presidential election.
However, the former president was quick to express his reservations about some of Yameen's policies, particularly his anti-India campaign. Nasheed urged the opposition's presidential candidate to reconsider these policies and to work closely with Maldives' neighbours.
Sources close to Nasheed have confirmed that he will be contesting in MDP's presidential primary; however, he has yet to make an official announcement. Meanwhile, incumbent President Solih has already confirmed his intention to run in the party's primary election.