Umar Naseer on Friday night officially launched his campaign for the upcoming presidential election with the slogan "A New Direction."
The former Minister of Home Affairs launched his campaign at a gathering held at Sultan Park in Malé.
At the event, Umar reflected on the political history of the Maldives and outlined the changes his administration would bring. He noted that despite having had five different presidents from four political parties within the last 15 years, major issues in the country still remain unresolved.
During his tenure as the home minister, Umar was known for his strict policies in tackling crime and his controversial rebuttals. He spoke about the drug situation in the country, saying that the issue of drugs "disappearing" from the airport under the watch of the Maldives Customs Service was concerning.
Umar also criticised the Maldives’ immigration policies, saying that there are a large number of illegal immigrants openly conducting businesses in the country without repercussion. He added that such activities would not be allowed in other countries.
He went on to discuss religious matters in the country; he said anti-Islamic rhetoric is growing and that the people are steering further away from the tenants of Islam. He said that there has been an increase in brothels and sex workers in the country and that they evade culpability even when they advertise their businesses on social media.
Umar also criticised the current administration in his speech. After a full term in office, major issues still remain unresolved because of the in-fighting within the ruling party, Umar alleged.
"We’re losing our sovereignty, our identity, and we’re losing our values and our path. If we wait 10 more years, Maldives will become a failed state," he said, addressing the crowd gathered at his campaign launch.
He said that the country will not see any productive changes by repeating the same process and voting for candidates put forth by political parties. According to him, this will only result in "empty vaults and loose morals."
Speaking about his vision for the Maldives, Umar said that he would ensure that the country is a fully developed state by 2045. In 10 years of his presidency (two complete five-year terms), all the socioeconomic problems in the country would settled and steady.
He also proposed implementing the punishments prescribed in Islamic Shariah for those who steal from the state in an effort to tackle corruption in the country. He said that Shariah principles would be applied when prosecuting heinous crimes such as murder and rape and that he would be a fair and just Islamic leader.
During last night’s event, Umar spoke extensively about establishing good governance, parliamentary reform, and his developmental agenda.
Umar ran for office in the country’s first multiparty election, held in 2008, as an independent candidate. Back then, he garnered 2,472 votes.
In 2013, Umar vied for the presidential ticket from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM); however, he lost the presidential primary to former President Abdulla Yameen, who eventually went on to win the 2013 elections. He was subsequently suspended from PPM for publicly criticising Yameen. He served in Yameen’s cabinet as the home minister in a Jumhoory Party slot after endorsing the party’s leader and business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim in that year’s presidential election.
Later, he announced his decision to contest the 2018 presidential election; he even amassed the endorsement required by law for independent candidates to contest, but he withdrew his bid ahead of the polls, citing an unsuitable political climate.
The Elections Commission has announced that this the presidential election will be held on 9 September, 2023.