There will be no circumstance under which former President and opposition leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom will be unable to contest the 2023 Presidential Election, the Progressive Coalition has said.
Senior officials of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Peoples' National Congress (PNC), in a press conference held Thursday, responded to the impression held by some that Yameen's imprisonment would open the door for Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim to come to power.
Responding to the statement, PNC's President, Abdul Raheem Abdulla, said such statements are spread by Gasim himself, adding that attempts to isolate President Yameen from the presidential race will not succeed.
Abdul Raheem stressed that President Yameen would contest the 2023 presidential race, and his name would appear on the ballot paper. He said there would be no situation where President Yameen would lose his chance to contest the election.
"Any goal that our rivals, be it Gasim or the current administration or ruling coalition partners, want to achieve by imprisoning Yameen cannot be achieved. I am stating with confidence to our [party] members - with God's will, the 2023 ballot paper will have President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's name on it. The PPM-PNC presidential candidate is President Abdullah Yameen Abdul Gayoom," he said.
"No formula to work with others"
At the press conference, Abdul Raheem reiterated that anyone who dreams of putting President Yameen behind bars to come to power with the support of the Progressive Coalition is mistaken. The party will contest the presidential election and will not join any other party, he said.
"Hopefully, no situation will arise where we rally behind the likes of Gasim Ibrahim, President Maumoon, Imran, Nazim, Nasheed, Siyam, and Solih to win an election. They have done more harm to this country."Abdul Raheem Abdullah | PNC leader
Abdul Raheem said there was no reason to join any group other than PPM and PNC, describing other parties as having been compliant in leading the Maldives to its current situation. He heavily criticized Gasim Ibrahim and said he was the person most interested in obtaining PPM-PNC support for the 2023 election by eliminating Yameen from the race by jailing him. He said the idea is being put in Gasim's head by those that left PPM to join JP.
"We have always been saying that hopefully, there won't ever come a day where PPM pledges allegiance to the government that is in power today and the parties that participated in bringing this government," Abdul Raheem said.
Will bag the election in one round
Stating that President Yameen would become the Progressive Coalition's presidential candidate, Abdul Raheem said the next administration would be a PPM administration, and the party would not seek the help of other parties to come to power. If the election is not 'stolen', President Yameen would win the election in a single round, he said.
"If the presidential election is not stolen, by Allah's will, we have 100 percent certainty that President Abdulla Yameen will win the 2023 presidential election in the first round," he said.
Asked what the opposition would do if President Yameen could not contest the election, Abdul Raheem said the PPM Constitution clearly states how to proceed in such a situation. However, he does not believe such a situation would arise, he said.
"The PPM's constitution stipulates how to act in such a situation. We don't have to make decisions based on a probability that such a situation may arise where President Yameen will be imprisoned. We have confidence that President Yameen cannot be put behind bars. The PPM-PNC presidential candidate is President Yameen," Abdul Raheem said.
Abdul Raheem further said there is no formula where PPM and PNC would rally behind another party or support another party's candidate. The opposition leaders cannot find a formula that stops President Yameen from contesting the election, he said.