Govt denies coalition agreement on parliamentary polls

Maldives government on Sunday denied the existence of an agreement between the four parties on the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) the day before had announced its decision to contest for all seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections that has threatened the split of the coalition government less than a month after taking office.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed's motion to nominate candidates for all 87 seats in the parliamentary elections slated for March next year was backed by an overwhelming majority of his party's council during an impromptu sit-down on Saturday evening.

However, the decision appeared to be in direct violation of the agreement signed by the four parties of the coalition before its victory in September's presidential elections.

Before the coalition led by its candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had pulled off a stunning upset in September's presidential elections, the four main parties had agreed to contest the parliamentary elections through the coalition.

It was widely believed that the coalition would divide up the seats in accordance with the same percentage that political posts were assigned to each party.

The leaders had agreed that MDP would get 40 percent, with 25 percent business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim's Jumhoory Party (JP) and 20 percent for former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The other main party in the coalition, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) would receive the smallest slice with 15 percent.

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by AVAS which was signed by MDP chairperson Hassan Latheef and Solih, the coalition had agreed to allocate 35 seats for MDP, 22 for JP, 20 for Gayoom's Maumoon Reform Movement (MRM) and 13 for AP.

However, the president's spokesperson Ibrahim Hoodh told that the four leaders had not signed an official agreement to contest the parliamentary elections through the coalition.

Hoodh also said political posts of the government have been divided between the parties under an "arrangement" rather than an agreement.

Despite the spokesperson's comments, the remaining three parties in the coalition have continued to insist on the existence of the agreement and have vowed to honour it despite the breach by MDP.

It remains unclear whether MDP would change its stance over the decision of its council while president Solih is yet to comment on what now appears to be deadlock.