Developments in Maldivian politics: birth of a new political party

With MDP now getting split into two, with Nasheed in Fikurehge Dhirun and Ibu Solih as the head of the current MDP, many were curious as to how this would play out when it comes to the party members who only knew one MDP.

At the start of democracy in the Maldives, the country only knew two political parties, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) which was led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom and the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) which was led by former President Mohamed Nasheed.

However, as time went on and people slowly started developing their own ideas on how the country can become better with policy reforms, more and more political parties were developed. And now, even after all that time one of the leading political parties remains to be MDP while DRP split (due to power struggles between half-brothers Gayyoom and Yameen), and gave birth to the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). As at now, PPM has become the strongest opposition party.

While MDP still continues to play in the big leagues of Maldivian politics, over the years the political party has also faced its difficulties with the power struggles between Solih and Nasheed, just like what has happened with the DRP. 

Though the face of MDP since its start has always been Nasheed, due to his jail term in the 2018 Presidential election, Nasheed was not allowed to be a contestant. Regardless of his winning the ticket and being the only member who was running for the Presidential elections from MDP in 2018, he had to withdraw from the Presidential race as he was faced with a 13-year prison sentence following the terrorism charges back in 2015.

Following this, his close and trusting friend Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ran for and won the Presidential election in 2018, with his campaign strongly focusing on corruption, mysterious deaths, and imprisonment of political opponents, often raised by the youth as concerns that strongly needed to be addressed by the state.

With this, Nasheed’s role in MDP slowly started fading away, while his loyal supporters still saw him as the leader of the political party.

Over the past five years, many changes have come about with President Solih finally wanting to play a bigger role in MDP and wanting to run as the candidate for the upcoming elections in 2023. With this, a primary election was held where both candidates ran against each other, with the members of MDP casting their vote for the leader they want to see running in the upcoming Presidential race. 

The result of this vote came as a shock to many, as the current President won the election with 61 percent of the voters favouring him rather than the face of MDP, and Nasheed started calling for justice as he believed that the election was rigged.

Time for change

Following the shocking turn of events, the local press questioned Nasheed on what he is going to do about the upcoming Presidential election after he lost the primary within his own political party. Though the response Nasheed gave was that he would not do anything and just ‘stay home’, many were quick to dismiss this statement as Nasheed was not a man who people knew to just give up. The loyal supporters and even the opponents believed that Nasheed would compete in the upcoming Presidential run one way or the other.

And though it was unlikely that Nasheed would leave his own political party and compete in the election as a minority party, this has also come true as his team has announced on 17 May 2023, the decision to form another political party by their faction ‘Fikurehge Dhirun’. 

Though it is hard for a lot of people to accept that Nasheed is finally leaving MDP after acting as the name and the face and the leader of the political party, the day has finally come when Nasheed is forming his own party yet again. With MDP now getting split into two, with Nasheed in Fikurehge Dhirun and Ibu Solih as the head of the current MDP, many were curious as to how this would play out when it comes to the party members who only knew one MDP.

By now, it has been reported that the Fikurehge Dhirun party has gained 12 Parliament Members’ support and more members are expected to join in the future. These changes came as late as yesterday, as MDP had a majority in the Parliament with 68 members in sitting, which has now dropped to 55 following some of the members joining the Fikurehge Dhirun party.

This is surely a big thing in the political field of the Maldives, as MDP as we knew it is now going through some major changes, and the loyal followers and members of the party are now faced with the hard decision of whether they want to continue to support MDP regardless of who the leader is, or leave the political party and follow the man who created MDP as he starts his new endeavour in his political career.

Speaking on this matter, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and close family member of Nasheed, Eva Abdulla stated that her departure from MDP is definitely not an easy one.

“Today's MDP is not a party of those foundations. Today’s MDP has been made a haven for corruption. Because we don't want to be in the grip of corruption. Even if the MDP departs from the principles we believed in, we are not ready to abandon those principles. So, unfortunately, I had to leave the MDP. With sadness, but also with hope” 
Eva Abdullah

With these recent developments in the political atmosphere of the Maldives, the upcoming elections are sure to get heated as we are yet to see how the followers of MDP will react to these big changes. Will the people follow the 'father of democracy', and the founder of MDP as they knew it or follow the political party and the current President of the Maldives?

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