When former President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) fell tantalisingly short of an outright majority in the first round of presidential polls held in the Maldives on November 9,all eyes were on Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim a business tycoon who calls himself the richest man in the country.
Gasim,who had former autocratic ruler Moumoon Abdul Gayooms brother-in-law and former cabinet minister Ilyas Ibrahim campaigning for him,proved king-maker with the shock defeat of Nasheed to Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) in the presidential run-off held on Saturday. Now that Yameen is sworn in as the sixth president of the island nation on Sunday,the old Gayoom regime is firmly back in power.
In an election on September 7 that was annulled by the countrys supreme court citing irregularities in the voters list,Nasheed had won 45.45 per cent of the votes,while Yameen got 25.35 percent and Gasim garnered 24.07 per cent. Another attempt at holding presidential elections on October 19 was scuttled by the police following another supreme court order.
In the first round of polling on November 9,Nasheed won 46.93 percent of the popular vote. The result led most to believe that Nasheed was comfortably on his way to wrest back power from the incumbent government.
In the first round of polling on November 9,Nasheed won 46.93 percent of the popular vote. The result led most to believe that Nasheed was comfortably on his way to wrest back power from the incumbent government. Initially,the JP did not come out in support of either Yameen or Nasheed when meetings were held with the PPM and MDP. However,after a meeting with Gayoom,Gasim said he would ask the JP Council to reconsider its decision to remain neutral. At a meeting held four days after the first round of voting,15 out of 20 JP Council members voted in favour of supporting the PPM in the run-off.
After the pact was sealed,Gasim urged all his supporters to vote for Yameen,with Gayoom asking voters to side with the PPM to save Islam and the culture of Maldives. With the backing of the Jumhooree coalition,Yameen projected himself as a defender of the Islamic faith of Maldives and the protector of the nations sovereignty.