The spokesperson for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s campaign, Mariya Ahmed Didi criticized the Transparency Maldives on Wednesday, saying that it needs to learn how to operate as a responsible NGO.
The remark follows a statement by the corruption watchdog on Monday, condemning the abuse of state resources in the presidential campaign.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Mariya, who also serves as the country’s defense minister, said that the Transparency Maldives make appeals against abuse of state resources each election year.
She said that the NGO has never worked with the Parliament to try to write it into law.
Mariya said that the president was simply doing his job, and that “opening and closing projects” was part of his job description.
“So, you tell me the middle ground in this. Should be stop his work the moment he begins his campaign, or should he continue to fulfill his responsibilities as the president. This is something they need to tell me,” she said.
Mariya said that NGOs such as the Transparency Maldives must adhere to strong policies, and must learn to work responsibly.
In its statement, Transparency Maldives said a pre-election assessment identified the misuse of state resources, and the risk of systemic and coordinated influence on voters through state-owned enterprises as a major concern that has the potential to skew the level playing field in favor of the incumbent.
The NGO said that President Solih attended ceremonies related to the inauguration and completion of 32 projects in 16 islands in the first 10 days of the official campaign period, which began on August 10.
The NGO said that at least eight of the projects were already completed between 2021 and 2022.
Transparency Maldives said it has also received complaints of government employees being forced to get involved in campaign activities.
They have asked the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate the allegations.