The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Advisor and former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has raised alarm over the sharp increase in political appointments under the current government, estimating the count to surpass 1,500 positions. This concern, expressed during a campaign rally, underscores a significant deviation from the administration’s commitment to transparency and efficient governance.

President Solih’s critique exposes a government seemingly engrossed in political patronage, where ministries are overburdened to the extent of employees sharing desks on a rotational basis due to lack of space. The recurrent expenditure on salaries for these positions reportedly reaches between MVR 100 to 150 million per month, raising serious questions about fiscal prudence and the prioritisation of political over public interest.

The situation is further exacerbated by the government’s failure to provide updates on these appointments through the President’s Office website, a lapse, attributed to unresolved “technical issues,” continues to undermine public trust. The administration’s excuse of outdated infrastructure fails to placate growing scepticism and criticism towards its handling of political appointments, with allegations of favouritism following the appointment of unsuccessful candidates from the PNC parliamentary primaries to significant positions.

This controversy unfolds against the backdrop of President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s administration’s failure to adhere to its transparency pledges and its election promise to cap political appointments at 700. The administration, now the largest in the country’s history, features 22 ministers and an extensive array of ministerial and deputy ministerial positions, starkly contradicting its professed goals of efficiency and accountability.

Amid these revelations, the parliament deliberates on a legislative proposal to amend the constitution, aiming to empower it with authority over the appointment and composition of government positions. This move, initiated by MP Eva Abdulla of The Democrats, signifies a crucial step towards curbing the unbridled expansion of political appointments and ensuring executive decisions are subject to greater democratic oversight and transparency.