Maldives ruling party backs move to bar soldiers from voting

  • More support for govt with military votes
  • Govt wants to depoliticize military
  • Opposition protests denying military to vote

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on Thursday came out in support of the proposed move to bar soldiers from voting in elections insisting that the military must remain free of political influence.

The support comes after the defence minister Adam Shareef Umar announced the intention during a military ceremony and while the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had condemned the move.

Speaking at a press conference held in the PPM office on Thursday, PPM deputy leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla said soldiers having the right to vote opened a dangerous door to politicize the military.

The Fonadhoo lawmaker Raheem said though the government would greatly benefit if soldiers were allowed to vote, it was important to free the military of political influence for the benefit of the nation and its people.

"If we look at the past, the security forces were not allowed to vote. There was no political influence in the military back then. However, the political influence in both the military and the police has crept in since 2008," Raheem said.

"So to bar soldiers from voting in elections is something PPM greatly supports. We want the military to be free from politics, which has always been the aim of PPM."

PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik said that the government was trying to increase the amenities provided to the military by increasing welfare, building flats to house soldiers and police officers.

He noted that the government in power would benefit from allowing the military to vote, but stated that taking away soldier's right to vote, Maldives would set an example to the rest of the world as a country unwilling to take undue advantage of its military.