K. Male'
03 Dec 2018 | Mon 09:00
Members of the Progressive Party of Maldives at a congress meeting
Members of the Progressive Party of Maldives at a congress meeting
Progresssive Party of Maldives
PPM: what’s next for Maldives’ 'leaderless' former ruling party?
After results of September’s ballots came in, critics of the then ruling Progressive Party of Maldives described it as an embarrassing defeat

After results of September’s ballots came in, critics of the then ruling Progressive Party of Maldives described it as an embarrassing defeat. The party’s leader Abdulla Yameen had gone to many heights in his bid for re-election, including funneling millions to potential voters and even giving a speech in the pouring rain.

So, the music both he and the party’s leadership had to face at their defeat had been loud. Senior party officials, MP Ahmed Nihan and MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla hosted a press conference and told the Maldivian public that they take responsibility for the loss and that they would continue to serve as a ‘responsible’ opposition party and hold the elected government responsible.

But this was before they filed a Supreme Court case to annul the ballots, and before Yameen said publicly that he believes he received significantly more than the 96,052 votes ballots show. The party, which has claimed to abide by an ideology of ‘civil obedience’ even in disagreement, acted out of character and completely without grace.

After years of criticizing the Maldivian Democratic Party and their supporters for protesting and so causing discord within the country, PPM began holding serial rallies in front of their office in capital city Malé calling for the arrest and conviction of Elections Commission chief Ahmed Shareef, whom they say rigged ballots in favour of current President Ibrahim Solih.

The party accused Shareef, police officers, and several individuals of a conspiracy through elaborate riggings means; disappearing ink and counterfeit ballots papers. These allegations were rejected by the commission and duly ridiculed by the public.

The move to question the validity of the electoral results after having acknowledged them and conceding victory to their rivals had been undoubtedly a ‘low’ for a party that has thus far maintained an image of grace and magnanimousness.

After the Supreme Court ruled that there was in fact no foul-play, the allegations were let go, and Yameen gave a second concession speech before retreating from the public-eye. He had reportedly spent his last day in office at Aa-rah, an island singled for presidential use – traditionally where former longstanding president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, PPM’s founder spent short holidays. no one outside his family and immediate political circle has heard from Yameen since.

Maumoon was founder and ideological leader of the party until estrangement with Yameen, his own half-brother, in 2016. PPM was divided into two factions until the Civil Court assigned Yameen – allegedly under duress – custodian. Maumoon has now formed the ‘Maumoon Reform Movement’, a member of the coalition that forms the current government.

PPM may have a key role to play in the shoes of an opposition party and has announced a renewed resolve for the parliamentary elections, slated for March of 2019. MP Nihan has said that incumbent lawmakers aligned with the party may receive tickets to contest in these ballots without a primary, but not before several of their lawmakers defected to the government coalition.

Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis, MP Moosa Manik, may have summed it up best. Moosa signed on with PPM last year and has been a staunch supporter of Yameen in parliament but during sittings held this past week, Moosa expressed concern for the rights of his party’s members.

“I wish to ask the People’s Majlis and the newly elected government to not hold any bias towards our members. Over 96,000 people still voted for President Yameen and they are all citizens of this country. What about their rights? Our founder is now the head of a separate faction and in the government, our lawful leader, well, no one even knows where he is”, Moosa said at a People’s Majlis sitting last Sunday.

This was before lawmakers aligned with the party voted to pass a massive state budget, to which several pledges made by the party’s rivals were added and accounted for, and support motions to repeal and overturn a slew of bills they proposed and passed.

As understandable it is for PPM to have lost some of the confidence it openly and unashamedly showed during the past five years, Moosa is right. The party has an obligation to represent those that voted for it. People who supported Yameen’s policies and his vision for development in the Maldives. Individuals who undoubtedly do not wish to see their parliamentarians yielding after abruptly being made the minority. Individuals who had hoped and still do for PPM to have more courage in this defeat than it has thus far shown.

Last updated at: 2 years ago
Reviewed by: Aishath Shaany