Opposition coalition hits first snag over manifesto

The opposition coalition on Wednesday hit its first snag after Jumhoory Party (JP) appears to disagree on the manifesto announced by main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

Business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim who recently renounced his position as the party's leader had announced the coalition's election pledges to the people late Wednesday. Some of the 11 pledges made by Gasim differed to some key points included in the MDP manifesto.

MDP on Saturday selected the party's chief government lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to lead the opposition alliance in the September elections.

MDP during its extraordinary congress on Saturday amended its charter to award the party ticket to the veteran lawmaker Solih after self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed pulled out of the September elections who's candidacy had been rejected by the country's electoral watchdog citing his terrorism conviction.

According to the long awaited opposition agreement, the presidential candidate would be from MDP while the running mate would be nominated by Gasim's party.

The MDP manifesto which has been divided into five main parts which includes 'island Maldives', 'blue economy', 'proud family', 'caring government' and 'justice'.

Some of the key pledges the two main parties seem to disagree on include allowing foreign judges and change the governance system from presidential to parliamentary out of which MDP had included in its manifesto while the latter was hinted at by Nasheed recently.

The other pledges were largely on good governance by ensuring a free and independent police, military, judiciary and state institutions.

Gasim had also proposed for the Maldives to rejoin the Commonwealth which it quit in 2016 and lift the age cap on presidential candidates. The business tycoon also said major decisions taken by the coalition government would be made a high-level coalition council.

He however, had not mentioned an interim government nor early elections which the MDP manifesto had clearly detailed.

MDP in its manifesto had said the coalition government would allow for the country's main opposition leaders who have now been denied the opportunity to contest by the incumbent government. In that regard, the opposition coalition government would hold office for 18 months before paving the way for the top opposition leaders to contest for the presidency.

"MDP believes that the new government should hold office for 18 months. In this 18 months, the government would establish independent institutions and empower political parties," MDP lawmaker Imthiyaz Fahmy said in the video to unveil the manifesto.

But the contrasting campaign pledges made by the two parties suggest lack of consultation though MDP is yet to comment.

JP meanwhile is set to announce its nomination for the coalition running mate on Tuesday.