Muizzu's journey to presidency, one step at a time

President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

On Saturday, opposition PPM-PNC coalition’s candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu was elected president. His journey to the highest-ranking post in the Maldives had been interesting, as he climbed from one step, to the other.

In China, one of the world’s strongest economies – an individual can only become the president after filling certain other posts. Experiences at various stages is mandatory, starting from the lowest-ranking post. This ensures the capability of the leader of the nation. Although no such regulation is enforced in the Maldives – Muizzu’s journey to presidency had somewhat unfolded in this manner.

Opposition PPM-PNC's presidential candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu at his last campaign rally on September 29, 2023. (Sun Photo/Ibrahim Shamweel)

First president-elect with a PhD

The present Maldivian generation has seen several leaders come and go. They have also been capable individuals. However, the biggest difference between them and Muizzu is his educational successes. In this regard, Muizzu is the first president-elect in the Maldives to hold a PhD. Although Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik who served as the president after former president Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation held a PhD, he became the president in the capacity of the vice president upon the resignation of the actual president, instead of through an election. Therefore, this is a record set by Muizzu.

Muizzu holds a PhD in civil engineering from the University of Leeds. His bachelor’s degree is in the field of structural engineering from the University of London, while his master’s degree is also in civil engineering. Notably, civil engineering pertains to planning designing, and supervising the construction and maintenance of infrastructure projects – a key feature of development.

Opposition PPM-PNC's presidential candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu holding a baby at a campaign rally. (Photo/Campaign Team)

Extensive experience in leadership

Praise to Muizzu does not end with his successes in higher education. The president-elect boasts extensive experience in leadership posts. In this regard, Muizzu is among individuals who held the post of the housing minister for the longest and uninterrupted term.

It is not wrong to say that most Maldivians came to know Muizzu upon his appointment as the housing minister during Dr. Waheed’s administration. He continued to hold the post in the next administration incepted after Dr. Waheed’s; former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul’s administration. During his seven years as the housing minister, Muizzu was noted as one of the most active ministers.

Major infrastructural development projects were carried out under Muizzu’s direct oversight during Yameen’s administration such as the Sinamale’ bridge, reclamation of Hulhumale’ Phase II in addition to the development of 7,000 flats on the land, the 25-story Dharumavantha hospital and King Salman Mosque.

A great number of housing projects were carried out in both Male’ area and atolls under Muizzu’s direct oversight within a short span of time. This was also accompanied by the development of parks and recreational spaces in Male’ and islands for greenery and recreation. Asphalt was also laid on a Male’ road for the first time under Muizzu’s oversight.

President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu at a rally calling to free jailed opposition leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdu Gayyoom. (Sun Photo/Naail Hussain)

Furthermore, Sultan Park, which had been left untended for a long time, was redeveloped under a new and modern design by Muizzu. During Yameen’s administration – an industrial village was developed in Male’ for the first time and four hectares of land were added to the congested city. Apart from this, Rasfannu, an artificial beach was developed in Male’ City, integrating a little of an island aspect to the city; bringing joy to many residents.

A significant number of harbor projects, stadiums and other infrastructural development projects were also carried out in islands under Muizzu’s leadership.

After becoming the mayor of Male’ City, Muizzu has initiated and overseen more projects in the last two years alone, than it has ever been done before. He has expanded the operations of the council immensely.

The successful implementation of these projects stands testament to Muizzu’s leadership and work ethic.

Politically well-versed

It is not only witnessed in the Maldives, but also in other foreign nations. Individuals with outstanding leadership skills and experience are unable to stand firm on the political front – attributed to lack of political experience.

On the contrary, in Muizzu’s case, he is well-witted in the political front.

Muizzu officially entered politics as a member of Adhaalath Party (AP). He left the party to join Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), where he also served as the party’s deputy leader. He then joined Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), in which he had also held the post of the deputy leader.

On the day the opposition PPM-PNC (People’s National Congress) coalition decided that it would be PNC candidate who represented the coalition in this year’s presidential election – Muizzu had resigned from PPM to join to PNC. He won the party’s ticket in a secret vote taken among the council members of the party.

At the time Muizzu won PNC’s ticket – jailed opposition leader Yameen was fighting a Supreme Court battle to be deemed eligible as a presidential candidate. The coalition’s Plan A had always been Yameen contesting the election. However, he was denied the chance when the Supreme Court found him ineligible to contest. Yameen had then asked the coalition to boycott the election. PPM right then had been discussing to rally a new candidate in place of Yameen. Muizzu’s low chances of representing the coalition as their presential candidate had been a contentious topic during this time. He emerged victorious in this political play, affirming the ticket, one and for all. After he filed his candidacy form, the PPM-PNC coalition’s leadership that had been divided had finally united to ensure Muizzu’s win.

Dr. Mohamed Muizzu (2nd L) at the elections center to submit his candidacy form on August 7, 2023. (Sun Photo/Ahmed Azif)

Election history

Without doubt, PPM’s biggest victory in an election is Yameen’s win in the 2013’s presidential election, followed by their win of a significant number of seats during the 2014’s parliamentary election. The party had been on a losing streak since then.

Amid the streak, Muizzu, however, scored a major win for the party when he was elected Male’ City Mayor by a landslide in the 2021 local elections – competing against main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Prior to this, Male’ had been dominated by MDP, hence, making Muizzu’s win historical. In this regard, Muizzu had won 61.32 percent of the votes in the election against ruling MDP’s Anas Abdul Sattar who won just 36.97 percent of the votes despite a joint campaign by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed. The result shook the nation to its core. It was also one of the biggest boosts for Muizzu in his political career.

2023’s election

In even a larger surprise, during the first round of the presidential election held on September 9th that saw eight candidates go head-to-head, Muizzu had secured over 100,000 votes, coming in first place. He had a lead of over 15,000 votes against the incumbent president.

Yesterday, Muizzu won the runoff by a landslide difference of over 18,000 votes.

In total, Muizzu received 126,160 votes while President Solih received 107,444 votes.

A nation hopes

Muizzu was elected president with a number of pledges to the people backed by his vast years of experience and education. But most importantly, he had become elected to the highest-ranking post of the nation after climbing level by level, as it should be.

Having shown good potential throughout the years, the nation remains hopeful Muizzu can make revolutionary changes to the nation, and ensure a prosperous future for all.