Faris decides against backing a candidate in election runoff

Ahmed Faris Maumoon takes part in 2023 presidential debate on September 2, 2023. (Photo/Vaguthu)

Ahmed Faris Maumoon, who ran in the first round of the presidential election as an independent candidate, has decided he will not back a candidate in the election runoff, which will be held at the end of this month.

In the first round of voting in the presidential election on September 9, the opposition PPM-PNC candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu won 46 percent of votes, while MDP’s Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the incumbent president, won 39 percent.

Faris, the president of the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM), placed sixth, with 2,979 votes.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Faris said that the fact that none of the candidates won a majority needed to win the election outright, shows they had failed to present a proper manifesto.

Faris noted that he had engaged in talks with the MDP and the PPM-PNC – which went into the runoff – and shared their proposals.

He said that what Maldives needs is systemic reform.

“We believe this country needs systemic reforms. We find this will be difficult to implement, for a presidential candidate or president elected from one of the big political parties currently operating in Maldives,” he said.

Faris said that members of parties expect presidents from their respective parties to prioritize them, and governments are forced to prioritize the interests of their party over that of the general public, in releasing funding for political parties.

“Its unlikely that a manifesto such as ours will come from such a party,” he said.

Faris said he decided not to back a candidate in the runoff, because he believes bigger parties will find it hard to push the reforms he wants.

He stressed that he did not make the decision due to lack of trust in anyone from either MDP or PPM-PNC.

“But because of the structure of the parties, and because of how the parties are currently founded and operated, we believe it will be hard for an administration formed in this manner to treat the people equality and fairly,” he said.

Faris said he will continue to push his manifesto, once the second round of voting is over.

“Once of the most important things we want to note is that we will treat our manifesto as a platform and have a lot of our candidates run for the Parliament,” he said.

Faris had initially planned to run in the election on behalf of his party, MRM, before deciding to contest the election independently, due to its court battle with the Election Commission (EC), over the commission’s decision to dissolve the party for failure to meet the 3,000-membership mark.

Faris is the second presidential candidate to decide against taking a side in the runoff, after JP’s leader Qasim Ibrahim, who placed fifth with 5,460 votes.

Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim’s MNP decided to back the PPM-PNC.

Meanwhile, the Democrats, which placed third with over 15,000 votes, has yet to make an official decision.