"Contesting to bring about development to islands"

Parliament Speaker and the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) 's President, Mohamed Nasheed, has said the government could do what it wishes for the people and that the government should stop giving excuses when plans are not implemented.

Nasheed is contesting against President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in MDP's presidential primary slated for January 28. The campaigns of both candidates are in full swing.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Maradhoo, Addu City, on Monday night, Nasheed said every government should give special priority to introducing economic activities in Addu City.

"I have come to you again because it has not happened that way," Nasheed said.

Nasheed said he decided to pursue the presidential election on the MDP ticket because he was confident that he could bring about significant changes to Addu City and other islands with little effort.

"You don't have to do much work to do the guesthouse business here. I think it's useful for the government to spend on building guesthouses," Nasheed said.

Nasheed said the people of Addu City would get prosperity when job opportunities are increased in the city.

"This is something that is clear - before and now,' he said.

Nasheed added that MDP identified that guesthouses should be run on islands and that other economic activities that strengthen tourism should be carried out in order to increase employment opportunities in Addu. However, the MDP government formed in 2008 lasted for a short time, and since then, such efforts in Addu have been stagnant, he said.

"Some of the previous works have also been stopped," Nasheed said.

The MDP's aim was to complete the convention center and introduce convention tourism in Addu while simultaneously carrying out guesthouse business, said Nasheed. He said the MDP tried to implement the same policies when it came to power in 2018. However, Nasheed does not believe the efforts were carried out adequately.

"However, this time, something unfortunate has happened. The government intended to implement the policies of the coalition instead of giving priority to the policies of the MDP," Nasheed said.

Nasheed said the talk of developing an airport in Addu City is an age-old tale and that the only international airport in the Maldives was on Gan island until very recently. However, the airport has not been fully utilized to date, he said.

"Everyone talks about a lot of plans, the current stage and the next stage, what to do next, and all such topics. However, we do not see the plans being implemented and planes landing [at the airport]," Nasheed said.

"Every time I meet a British minister, even if I meet a businessman who barely knows the Maldives, they inquire about the Gan airport and Addu City," Nasheed said.

Therefore, the development of Gan Airport will not be difficult, and it can be done in collaboration with international experts, he said.

"The government still holds more than 60 percent stake in the Addu airport," he said, criticizing the government's stake in the company that operates the Gan airport.

Nasheed said the next MDP government would implement policies to transfer the government stake in the Gan airport to the Addu City Council and the people of Addu City.

"I think the easiest way to build and develop the airport is to transfer a large part of the Finance Ministry's stake to the City Council," Nasheed said.

Nasheed said the sea routes in the southern Indian Ocean are close to Addu City, and therefore, there is no reason why Addu cannot become a major hub in the southern Indian Ocean. If the MDP government implements the MDP policies, this will be easier, he said.