The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has an interesting history. It was founded by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is also incumbent President Abdulla Yameen’s half-brother, after his first political party, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), got divided into factions due to differences in ideology.
PPM was primarily the elder Gayoom’s party, with him assuming the post of the party’s leader since its conception. However, things became complicated in late 2016 when its council wanted to hand Yameen the presidential ticket for the 2018 presidential election, without holding a primary within the party first.
Ultimately, the feud ended with Gayoom being expelled from his own party (despite him claiming that he is still the leader of the party due to a technicality in the party’s charter).
Since then, PPM has officially announced that Yameen will be its presidential candidate for the upcoming election slated towards the end of this year. Most of PPM’s leadership seem to agree that Yameen should represent the party in the election, and they do not think that holding a primary is necessary.
And this is rightfully so; there is a PPM regulation that allows the outgoing president to seek re-election on behalf of the party, provided there are no objections from PPM’s congress.
According to a lot of leaders of the party, Yameen deserves to run on behalf of the party again in the upcoming election as he has proven beyond doubt that he is a very capable president. Therefore, a primary is not really necessary.
PPM’s deputy leader and the Minister of Tourism, Moosa Zameer, told Mihaaru that he believes that Yameen should represent the party in the election, and said that some leaders of the party are harbouring the idea of submitting a proposal to PPM’s council to allow Yameen to run for presidency without a party primary.
“We’ve definitely thought about [this], and we may proceed when the time is right,” Zameer said. “When we look at all the things President Yameen has done, we really do believe that he deserves a second term of presidency.”
He also recapped what had happened in the 2013 PPM primary when former Minister of Home Affairs, Umar Naseer, competed against Yameen for presidency. He said that it had not ended well as Umar had backed another candidate in the election after he lost, even though he eventually came back to PPM later. Therefore, he said that it might be best not to hold a primary this time around to avoid such an incident.
Zameer, however, was quick to highlight that PPM’s council is independent and that it would be the council’s decision in the end. He was confident that the party’s council would not take any decisions that may hinder the stability of the party, as well as the nation.
Mihaaru is aware that there are still individuals within PPM who believes that holding a primary would be the most democratic thing to do. However, since Gayoom was ostracised and ousted from the party for encouraging a presidential primary, we will only know for sure what the ruling party has planned when the election dawns nearer.