Nasheed hints at possible support for Muizzu

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) holds a rally to mark MDP's then-leader, Mohamed Nasheed's return from self-exile on November 1, 2018. (File Photo/Mohamed Muzayyin Nazim)

Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed says he does not believe there will come an administration that will entertain religious extremism as much as the current MDP administration has, in the last five years.

The remark by Nasheed, who left the MDP to join Democrats, led by scores of former MDP members loyal to him, refers to claims by the main ruling party of Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s alleged links to Salaf, an organization it accused of promoting religious extremism.

Nasheed made the remark in a post on X on Sunday, a day after Muizzu, the presidential candidate for the opposition PPM-PNC coalition, took the lead over MDP’s President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential election, forcing a runoff.

The former MDP leader said he finds it “hard to believe a real threat exists of an administration that will entertain religious extremism and enforce such views more than the current administration has, in the last five years.”

Mariya Ahmed Didi, the country’s defense minister and President Solih’s campaign spokesperson, has repeatedly accused Muizzu of being a member of Salaf.

Several Islamic scholars who belong to Salaf have announced their support for Muizzu, while his wife, Sajidha Mohamed is a close relative of a top member of the organization.

In the election on Saturday, Muizzu won 46 percent of the votes, securing a seven percent margin over the incumbent, who won 39 percent.

In third place, but trailing far behind, was Ilyas Labeeb, the Democrats’ candidate. He won seven percent of the votes.

The winner will be decided in a second round of voting on September 30.

Despite winning under 16,000 votes, the Democrats celebrated the results.

While some supporters called for the Democrats and MDP to unite, Nasheed made pointed jab at President Solih on Saturday night.

“President Solih’s campaign team is so strong. He doesn’t need us. Still clueless?” he wrote on X.

A leading figure within the Democrats, who spoke to Sun on condition of anonymity, said on Sunday that it is “highly unlikely” the party will support President Solih.

“I personally believe we will back Muizzu. No one wants to back Solih,” said the official.

However, the Democrats have yet to make an official decision.