Gayoom plays 'national interest' card in final plea to save coalition

Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Saturday appeared to make a final plea to fellow coalition leaders to preserve the ruling coalition urging them to put national interest ahead of their political parties.

Gayoom's plea came after ruling coalition partner Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim on Friday threatened to sever ties with main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) saying his party was ready to negotiate with other political parties to form a new coalition.

The 80 year old in a Tweet reminded fellow leaders that they had promised the people a just and fair government which persuaded voters to back the coalition in the presidential elections last November.

"So I urge everyone to put national interest ahead of the interests of their respective political party," Gayoom urged.

MDP and JP have remained at loggerheads over contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections through the same coalition which saw them win the presidential elections in November last year.

However, MDP led by former president Mohamed Nasheed has continued to deny the existence of such an agreement with the main ruling party moving ahead with plans to secure parliament majority.

The dispute between the two main parties in the ruling coalition has been further exacerbated after a JP lawmaker submitted an amendment seeking to bar former presidents from contesting for parliament - largely aimed at Nasheed.

Dhidhdhoo lawmaker Abdul Latheef Mohamed who recently joined Jumhoory Party (JP) had submitted an amendment to the parliamentary election law just a few months remaining for the parliamentary elections.

The lawmaker has thus far ignored pleas by his party to withdraw the amendment, forcing MDP to question the validity of the joint parliamentary group.

The coalition parties had previously agreed to contest both the parliamentary election and the local council elections through the coalition in order to ensure maximum number of seats.

According to the original agreement, main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will contest for 35 seats while Jumhoory Party, Maumoon Reform Movement and Adhaalath Party will contest for 22, 17 and 13 seats respectively.

However, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) decided at its National Council to contest for all 87 constituencies in the parliamentary election, despite the existing coalition agreement to divide up the seats among themselves.

The four leaders of the coalition have sat down several times with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in attempt to resolve the dispute. However, an agreement has not been reached thus far.