The opposition coalition has begun its biggest campaign gathering in capital Male on Saturday night.
In attendance at the rally held at Alimas Carnival are the joint opposition's presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Ibu) of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), his running mate Faisal Naseem of Jumhooree Party, and senior members of the opposition parties including religiously conservative Adhaalath Party and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's faction.
Some notable attendees are former members of Gayoom's Cabinet during his presidency, including Umar Zahir, Aneesa Ahmed, Ahmed Abdulla, and Abdulla Kamaluddeen.
According to MDP, the state had released the carnival grounds for an opposition rally Saturday night for the first time in three years.
Local media report that attendees began to gather at 8 p.m.
The opposition meeting sees large numbers in attendance as the entire area is flooded with supporters dressed in various shades of yellow and other coalition colours. The seats are completely filled out, as well as neighbouring roads and alleyways. People can be spotted peering in on the meeting from balconies of private residences as well.
Former Minister Abbas Ibrahim addresses the meeting. Abbas, who served the country for many years, is also an in-law to former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom.
Abbas: I am here to represent the Maumoon Reform Movement. We endorse Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. In 1960, fifty years ago at the time when Maldives became a republic nation, we built a jetty out of stone between Hulhule and Gaadhu and we stood witness to progress ever since. However, we do forget. We should consider progress as that which we participate in, not that which we pay foreign nations to do for us. We should think about whether we are still under a republic governance. A republic government is that in which a people utilize their own to serve the nation as a whole.
Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Ibu) addresses the meeting.
Ibu: The past five years were the most unjust in the history of Maldives. The most corrupt; the most authoritarian. But the Maldives is about to change; no state lasts forever.
Ibu: President Yameen has lost all support after the unjust convictions of the strongest leaders the Maldives have seen. In our government, those four leaders will be freed. There will be consequences should anyone's rights be infringed. We shall not be unjust, and this justice can be attained only through change; change of powers which has to begin from the very top.
Ibu: We don't know to whom, to which country President Yameen has sold islands; or for how many millions. He shows us the airport, a bridge, a 25-storey building, but their expenses far exceeded what they should have cost.
Ibu: I shall never be one to put our people in debt. In my rule, there won't be any religions except Islam in Maldives. We shall implement an open and fair tax system. Our government will protect the environment with the full power of the law; we will not neglect any aspect of the environment. Tourism is the most important industry.
Ibu: Fishermen will receive their just dues and agriculturists would not see their produce go to waste. In our government, tourism will expand to the north and south [of Maldives], promoted all across the world.
Ibu: Our government will be for the youth. We shall support their entrepreneurship. The youth are not only for playing futsal. On September 23, it is the youth of this country that will bring about this change.
Ibu: We will empower women not just by saying we will protect them from domestic abuse but by criminalising the act.
Ibu: We will change the need for the entire Maldives to migrate to Male’. We will bring housing solutions to them.
Ibu: We will reinstate pending investigations of unsolved murders, and missing persons in a transparent manner. We will ensure Maldivians live dignified, happy lives with their families.
Ibu: Maldives has been cast aside by the international community. Our foreign policy will target peace for the Maldives. We will fulfil our role by maintaining relationships with neighbouring countries. Only you, the people, can save the Maldives from the abyss we have fallen into. God willing, on September 23 our ostracisation from the world will come to an end and Maldives will return to the path of justice.
Former MDP Chairman and MP, Mariya Ahmed Didi addresses the crowd.
Mariya: We must all go out and vote on the 23rd of September. For candidate number two. We must not return home, we will stay on the streets, we will end this.
A video statement by the leader of the Jumhooree Party Qasim Ibrahim is broadcast at the event. (As Qasim currently faces criminal charges, this news cannot publish his statements).
Parliamentary member for the Galolhu-North constituency Eva Abdulla addresses the crowd.
Eva: We have spent five years in fear. The families and civilians that have been victimised by such abuse are yet to see justice served. Integrity is more important than fear.
Running mate Faisal Naseem addresses the gathering.
Faisal: Progress of a nation is being able to live without fear. For justice to prevail. All of Maldives is calling for a leader that will be loyal to Maldivians. It is our happiness to have a pious [leader] like Ibu. From what all of you [supporters] have shown here [tonight], the results are clear.
Faisal: We will protect the rights of Maldivians. We will uphold the Constitution. The most joyous news we bring you is our promise to ensure social protection.