Cabinet ministers have started expressing support for candidates in the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Chairperson race.
Maafannu North MP Imthiyaz Fahmy and Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail will go head to head in the election slated for May 16. While Imthiyaz has the support of Speaker and former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed's family and aides, Nasheed has not explicitly stated that he backs Imthiyaz. However, he has been working in different forms to gather support for Imthiyaz.
Fayyaz is believed to be backed by President Solih and government officials. Most members of MDP's National Council and MPs also support Fayyaz.
Many believe that Nasheed has refrained from announcing his support for Imthiyaz as it could prompt President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to announce support for Fayyaz.
On Wednesday, Environment Minister Aminath Shauna and Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali announced their support for Fayyaz. Earlier, Health Minister Ahmed Naseem had also expressed his support for Fayyaz.
Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer plays a vital role in Fayyaz's campaign from among cabinet ministers. He has taken part in several island tours and leads a strong campaign for Fayyaz.
Earlier on Wednesday, Minister Shauna's announcement on backing Fayyaz met with criticism from Naheed. In a tweet, Nasheed said Shauna's decision to back Fayyaz was laced with self-interest to maintain her cabinet position. This is the first time Nasheed has responded harshly for supporting Fayyaz.