Maumoon’s opaque response to electing an interim president


Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at the presidential jetty before his departure to India. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom on Monday night gave an opaque response when asked for his opinion on electing an interim president in 2018.

Late in October, former president Mohamed Nasheed had urged the opposition coalition to collectively nominate an interim president for the upcoming presidential election slated for next year.

Nasheed had said that he does not believe that a free and fair election could be held, given the current political situation in the Maldives. Therefore, he suggested that the joint opposition coalition nominate a single candidate who will safeguard democratic values, restore the functionality of independent institutions and ensure that a fair election is held later.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhoory Party (JP) had quickly acknowledged the former president’s call, and the opposition coalition’s spokesperson and Galolhu South MP Ahmed Mahloof had even declared that the interim president will not be someone “outwardly political” but “someone all parties will accept.”

While MDP and JP appear to be onboard with the idea of an interim president, the newest leader of the opposition coalition, Maumoon, did not appear to share the same sentiments.

A journalist had asked Maumoon, who openly withdrew support from his half-brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom over a year ago, for his two cents on electing an interim president in 2018, after an opposition coalition meeting on Monday night.

He responded by saying: “I am currently not engaging in any discussions regarding that matter.”

“I think it’s a little premature to be talking about an interim president now – so we’re currently refraining from commenting on the issue. I’d rather discuss what we’ve got planned in the near future,” he said.

He revealed that the opposition coalition is working on a reform agenda and assured that the agenda will be put to effect soon.

Meanwhile, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) appears unfazed by the opposition’s talks of an interim presidency.

PPM’s leadership claimed that the opposition will not be successful in electing an interim president, and reckoned that the joint opposition will not be able to come to a firm decision on who the interim candidate will be. They predicted that when the election draws nearer, each party will want to nominate its own candidate to run for presidency.

Further, the ruling party had also noted that the Constitution does not allow for interim presidencies.

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