Adhaalath Party

AP LogoAdhaalath, which identifies itself as an ‘Islamic political party’, was launched in 2005. Although it has never won a seat in parliament, its increasing (ab)use of Islam as a political tool has won it substantial influence over large segments of society. While it was once described in local media as ‘an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt ’, it is hard to say what the Adhaalath Party in its current form stands for. Even the party itself does not seem to know.

The current leader of Adhaalath is Sheikh Imran Abdulla, one of the chief orchestrators of the 7 February 2012 coup. Together with other hard-line ‘Islamists’ such as Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed, the Islamic Affairs Minister and fire and brimstone preacher Sheikh Ilyas Hussein, Imran has been leading Adhaalath from one politically expedient alliance to another, leaving it bereft of any identifiable ideological or religious principles. Adhaalath’s strongest moment was on 23 December 2011, when its rally to ‘Defend Islam’, purportedly against the irreligiousness of Mohamed Nasheed’s leadership, brought out the largest number of Maldivians ever to take part in a politico-religious rally on the streets of Male’. Since then, however, its flip-flopping on religious principles and easy sale of ideological stances for the sake of political gains, has lost it thousands of followers both in Male’ and other islands.

At the beginning of this election campaign, Adhaalath was backing incumbent Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik in what was then called a Broad Coalition comprising of all substantial political parties except MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party]. At the time, its leaders announced at various political and religious podiums that backing Waheed was a religious duty of every Maldivian Muslim. In June, however, it switched allegiance to Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party, forming what has been called the Jumhooree Coalition. Since then, Adhaalath leaders have been preaching that it is a religious duty of every Maldivian Muslim to vote for Gasim Ibrahim to ‘defend Islam’.

Backing: Gasim Ibrahim, Candidate No: 1, Jumhooree Party

Number of members: 10,000

    Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party

    DRP LogoDRP is an interesting (non)player in this 2013 election: it is the third largest party in the country with over 22,000 recorded in February this year but has not put forward a candidate of its own. Instead, its leader Thasmeen Ali, chose to become the running-mate of incumbent Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik who—without a party of the required minimum 10,000 members—is running as an independent.

    DRP was originally formed in 2005 by then president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was defeated in the first ever democratic elections in the history of Maldives held in 2008. Three years later, Gayoom who played the peculiar role of the party’s ‘Supreme Leader’, fell out with Thasmeen the ‘actual leader’ and formed the Z-DRP, which became what is now known as the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). Coming up to this 2013 election DRP, like all other parties except Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was in Waheed’s Broad Coalition which has since narrowed so much that the only players remaining are Waheed and DRP.

    DRP has several populist political figures such as MP Rozaina Adam as well as respected technocrats like its Parliamentary Group leader Abdulla Mausoom, but  Thasmeen’s decision to abandon its plan to put forward a presidential candidate and, instead, tie what was once the second largest party to the party-less Waheed has alienated a large share of its support base. It has also effectively ended DRP’s identity as a political party with an agenda of its own. Thasmeen is best known among the people for massive debts.

    There is not much else to say about DRP as it has not only failed to publish a manifesto but also lacks a website through which any information on its current activities or future plans can be gleaned.

    Backing: Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, Candidate No. 2, No party

    No. of registered members: 22,501 (February 2013)

      Jumhooree Party

      jplogoJumhooree Party was formed in May 2008, shortly before the first ever democratic elections in the history of the Maldives. Gasim Ibrahim, its current leader and presidential Candidate No.1 in this election, joined the party in August 2008 to become its presidential candidate. Gasim was defeated in the first round, after which the party joined Maldivian Democratic Party to form the winning coalition that defeated Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the second round.

      In this 2013 election Jumhooree Party has formed an alliance, known as the Jumhooree Coalition, with Adhaalath Party, subsequently proclaiming that ‘Defending Islam’ is one of its main goals. Like Adhaalath Party, it is hard to know what the Jumhooree Coalition stands for. While Gasim holds Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla’s hand on one side, he holds Dr Hassan Saeed’s hand on the other. Dr Saeed, Gasim’s running-mate is the author of Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam, which argues for religious tolerance and against the death penalty for apostasy. Adhaalath, meanwhile, would like nothing more than to hang anyone who even thinks of abandoning their faith in Islam.

      In addition to the wildly diverging principles among partners in the Jumhooree Coalition, the party is yet to publish a manifesto, although its pledges have been many. The party website does provide a link to a document called a ‘manifestor’ but it dates back to May 2011, suggesting that it is unlikely to have been created with this particular election and current issues in mind.

      Despite the confusion and lack of clear principles, goals and aims, the Jumhooree Coalition with its many hand-outs and promises of material goods along with benefits in afterlife via the rent-a-sheikhs at Adhaalath, appears to be gaining more support as the election draws closer. Many have expressed the opinion that the only serious rival to MDP in this election is the Jumhooree Coalition and its motely crew of allies.

      Candidate: Gasim Ibrahim, Jumhooree Party

      No of registered members: 12,154

        Maldivian Democratic Party

        MDP LogoMDP was formed in exile in 2003 by a group of 42 Maldivians, including Mohamed Nasheed, its presidential candidate [No.4] in this 2013 election. Registered in the Maldives as a political party in 2005, MDP currently has over 40,000 members making it the largest political party in the Maldives. Replacing authoritarianism with democratic rule being its raison d’être, democratic activism has been MDP’s greatest strength throughout its history.

        In 2008, three years after it was formed, MDP contested the first democratic elections in the Maldives with Mohamed Nasheed as its presidential candidate. It failed to win a clear majority in the first round, forcing MDP to ally with other political parties including Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party and the ‘Islamist’ Adhaalath Party to defeat Gayoom in the second round.

        During its two and a half years in government, the party introduced several key policies which won it many new supporters and strengthened the loyalty of existing ones. These include the introduction of universal healthcare, provision of a basic pension for everyone over the age of 65, a single mothers allowance, and an inter-atoll transport system. MDP also attracted the biggest foreign investment in the history of the Maldives in the form of a 25-year contract worth over US$500 million with India’s GMR to develop and maintain the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. The opposition, however, turned it into one of it’s chief anti-MDP campaign tools and voided the contract after the coup.

        Despite MDP’s many achievements and successes, it was unable to win a clear majority in parliament, and lost many supporters as several key party figures became involved in allegations of corruption and reports of nepotism. Idealistic supporters who longed for democratic reform also became disillusioned by the political wheeling and dealing MDP saw as necessary to fight an authoritarian reversal, a constant threat during its two and a half years of democratic rule.

        The MDP government sanctioned decision in January 2012 to arrest Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, a key player in the autocrats’ plans to end democratic rule, proved to be one of the most, if not the most, damaging decisions it took while in power, providing the opportunity for the long-planned authoritarian reversal to take place.

        With the 7 February 2012 coup, MDP reverted to what it does best — democracy activism. With it has returned the idealistic grassroots support, and MDP appears to be currently enjoying unprecedented levels of support across the country. The intensity of MDP supporters’ passion, arising from admiration of Nasheed and the desire for a return to democratic freedoms enjoyed during his government, has led detractors to describe them as followers of a cult with Nasheed as its charismatic leader.

        Unlike the other four parties, MDP’s goals, objectives and pledges have been clearly laid out and shared with the public. Its manifesto ‘Costed and Budgeted 2013-2015’, based on information gathered over months of door to door visits across the country led by MDP’s presidential candidate, is available for download [in Dhivehi] on its website, and contains a range of policies geared towards sustainable development of the Maldives and Maldivians under a democratic government. It was launched to much fanfare on August 25, 2013.

        Candidate: Mohamed Nasheed

        Members: 45,666

        For additional information and analysis, visit Minivan News

          Progressive Party of Maldives

          PPM LogoPPM is led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and was reported to have become the second largest party in February this year. It was created in 2011 as abreak-away faction of DRP, then Gayoom’s party. Although PPM’s presidential candidate [No.3] is Maumoon’s brother Yameen, Gayoom has often over-shadowed him in PPM’s campaign activities leaving many wondering which brother is the real contender.

          Like all other parties except the Maldivian Democratic Party [MDP], PPM was part of incumbent Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s Broad Coalition when campaigning first began early this year. In June this year, however, PPM left the coalition and has since formed a partnership with the Maldivian Development Alliance [MDA], an entity which lacks the 10,000 members required to be a political party. PPM has denied claims by Adhaalath Party that it approached the latter to form an alliance. It is, however, not beyond the realms of possibility that the reports are true as Gayoom, who once positioned himself as a ‘moderate Muslim’ and championed religious freedom in the Maldives [while violently oppressing all forms of Islamic thought other than those condoned by him], declared in 2011 [before forming Z-DRP] that he shared the same ideology as Adhaalath.

          Gayoom’s new stance is reflected in the new approach PPM has taken towards Islamic affairs since such as the call to end the half-century long moratorium on the death penalty which remained firmly in place throughout Gayoom’s 30 year reign; and in his continued descriptions of MDP supporters as irreligious or ‘Laa Dheenee’. PPM, like other parties, has yet to publish a manifesto, but has made several pledges including a return to exploration for oil, revival of foreign investor confidence, support for youth development and harsher punishments to tackle crime.

          Candidate: Yameen Abdul Gayoom

          No. of members: 22,793 members (February 2013)