As April approaches, a typical election ambiance is observed in the Maldives. The echo of campaign songs through streets nationwide, colorful banners and flags portraying smiling faces that all promise to meet the people’s expectations and then the unfolding of their secrets.
All we have heard the past few months are debates from opinionated people. Who must be elected to the People’s Majlis and who must be cast aside? The country is divided into groups, some who believe the rich, dominant business tycoon deserves to represent their constituency, some who believe influential politicians will be fit for the job and some who support candidates who are experienced in the legal sector. The list is never ending.
Unfold the truth
Recent days have seen the unfolding of the “dirt” caked underneath the nails of some of these candidates. As such, many corruption allegations have been pinned against many of them. On Monday, corruption watchdog Anti-Corruption Commission denied there being a corruption background against a pro-government candidate who is accused of using campaign funds to pave scholarship opportunities for his constituents.
Another candidate has been accused of domestic violence. The candidate’s spouse asserts claims that she has been suffering from his abuses for a while now, however authorities have recently revealed that there are no such cases lodged against the particular candidate, once supported by the main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who, following increasing pressure online, had withdrawn support for the candidate. Although he has been disowned from the government campaign, he continues to run, refusing to withdraw his candidacy and of course, his keen followers backing him faithfully.
In mid-March, another pro-government candidate who is also a legal representative, had been slapped with child abuse allegations by the opposition. Having refuted claims that the candidate had evidently abused students living at her house by cutting off power and water supply in the past, the candidate has since appealed for a thorough investigation into the accusations. The candidate’s opponent has since been accused of defamation.
While a Jumhooree Party aligned candidate has also been accused of funding a sports competition within his constituency, another of its candidates has been accused similarly, for the promise of offering tangible benefits to his constituents. According to a recent amendment to the Elections Act, anything a candidate gives out for one’s own benefit will be deemed as bribery. According to the Elections Act, it is an offense to provide or offer anything to voters as a benefit to the candidate to sway the voters in their favor. But then again, these acts do not come by surprise.
While some of these recently unfolded reports have taken us aback, other candidates have been getting terrorized throughout the craze of the campaign. As such, the campaign sites of candidates fielded by the ruling party have been vandalized throughout March. Another MDP candidate has had his campaign activities obstructed by rivals. Following these acts of vandalism, party leader and Former President Mohamed Nasheed, ever the glue that keeps everything together, has advised MDP candidates and their supporters to remain patients and ignore the acts of purposeful sabotage.
Baffling enough as it is that the opposition is ridiculously silent throughout all of this, is it not ironic that almost all of the candidates contesting in the Parliamentary Elections, be it independent or opposition fielded candidates, claim that they support the government’s ideologies for the people? Don’t they have any jabs at the government agenda? Like in the previous elections, we do not notice the opposition fielded candidates pointing out the many things wrong with the current administration. Instead, we see them trying so very hard to gain the trust of current President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. We have been observing opposition candidates stating that they will support the government and its agenda for the people. Why so? Is it maybe because they saw how massively the opposition, then ruling party, lost in the Presidential Election of September 2018?
Why does a majority of candidates wish to represent the government? Does them belonging to the government ensure them a vote? We are currently at the point where it is clearly impossible to recognize the actual candidates who stand with the government. Are these merely traps to lure votes or are they indeed supporting President Solih’s government? The opposition is suspiciously silent throughout all of this. Or have they finally accepted defeat? Are they hesitant to point out the faults in the current government like a normal opposition should, seeing the results of the previous election? How the opposition failed? How much does this cowardice cost opposition fielded candidates though?
The people have been left with a little bit of confusion ever since the surfacing of these reports. The voters are very well aware of those who are clearly in the way of people’s rights by buying their votes for an unworthy amount. Some of these are the rich men who go out their way to boost corruption so as to save their businesses from falling apart. These were the same people in the previous tenure turning a blind eye and deaf ear when the people’s funds were being misused and robbed. Given these reasons, why would the people elect thieves and deceivers who are unfaithful to them for another five years?