Pres downplays 'unlikely' Gasim-Yameen alliance

Maldives president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Thursday ruled out an alliance between his predecessor Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and coalition partner Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Gasim last week 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.

President Yameen's top officials meanwhile had met with Gasim fueling rumours of a surprise alliance between the two ahead of the parliamentary polls in April.

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, president Solih assured that Gasim remains a leader of the ruling coalition.

"Gasim is a coalition partner. There's no doubt about that. I don't see him agreeing a coalition with Yameen. I don't think that's happening. I'm confident of that," Solih stressed.

The 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 business tycoon in a Tweet accused MDP of "kicking-out" his party "again" after winning the presidential elections.

"JP has again been forced to beg. This party is now ready to talk with any party willing to work together in the parliamentary elections," Gasim said in his Tweet.

Solih admitted that the absence of a formal agreement between the four parties of the ruling coalition for the parliamentary elections was the cause of the dispute. However, he expressed confidence that the coalition could overcome such differences and maintain the alliance.

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.