President confident of ‘two or three’ new partners for runoff

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih addresses a campaign rally in N. Maafaru on August 14, 2023. (Photo/MDP)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih says he is confident that “two or three” new parties will join the ruling MDP coalition, ahead of the election runoff on September 30.

In a phone interview to private broadcaster RaajjeTV on Monday morning, President Solih said he engaged in negotiations with parties “that didn’t make it to the second round.”

He said that some of the negotiations took place on Sunday, during which some parties had “greenlighted” a potential partnership.

President Solih said the negotiations hadn’t produced anything definitive yet, but he expects decisions to be made, soon.

“In Sha Allah, we expect two or three parties to join us. We will make a lot of progress, once that’s done,” he said.

None of the eight candidates who contested the presidential election managed to secure enough votes to win Saturday’s election outright.

Commenting on the results, President Solih said he made “a lot of mistakes” in the first round of voting.

He said the results had not been what he hoped for, but was working to secure better results in the next round.

Pointing out the low turnout of 79 percent – the lowest in a presidential election - President Solih cited negligence in completing administrative formalities in some of the constituencies as one of the biggest mistakes in the first round of voting.

“We see the low turnout as one of the biggest factors. Many of the people who pledged their votes to us were unable to vote,” he said.

President Solih said that some 300-400 people who pledged their votes were unable to vote in some of the islands.

He said the party is investigating what went wrong.

“One thing is, they are saying that the people who were waiting to vote in the evening were unable to vote when polling suddenly closed at 04:00 pm. That might be one factor. Secondly, I don’t thing our teams made enough effort to make people vote,” he said.

He said he doesn’t see victory improbable, if the party managed to rectify its mistakes.

President Solih said that he had chosen not to respond to some of the allegations made by the opposition during the campaign, which he believes was a mistake.

He said that the allegations, especially those related to the country’s independence, while untrue, were repeated so much that some people had starting to believe it.

 “The false allegations regarding foreign soldiers and such were propagated so much that people started to believe it to be true. These claims lack any merit. But we failed to make enough effort to clear the people’s doubts during the campaign,” he said.

 President Solih described it as his biggest challenge.

He said he hopes to win back the trust of the people in the runoff.

President Solih thanked the people who voted for him, and gather more courage to engage in greater efforts “to prevent the country’s fall.”

In the election on Saturday, the opposition PPM-PNC coalition’s candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu won 46 percent with 101,635 votes, securing a seven percent margin over the incumbent, who won 39 percent, with 86,161 votes.

The other candidates trailed far behind.

The deciding round of voting will be held on September 30.