The Jumhooree Party (JP) finds itself embroiled in controversy as it prepares for a highly anticipated rally tonight, where the party’s presidential ticket will be officially presented to its leader Qasim Ibrahim. The event, scheduled to take place at the Alimas Carnival area in Male’, has been overshadowed by reports of questionable tactics employed by the party, raising concerns about transparency and ethical boundaries in political campaigns.

In a move aimed at consolidating support ahead of the upcoming presidential election, the JP nominated Qasim, a prominent businessman in the Maldives, as their candidate for the presidency. However, the party’s decision to bypass the customary primary selection process and handpick Qasim has sparked criticism and cast doubts on the party’s commitment to democratic principles.

Ahead of tonight’s rally, troubling accounts have emerged from employees of Qasim’s Villa company, known for its substantial workforce. Many employees, speaking on condition of anonymity, have revealed that they were compelled to attend the event under the threat of dismissal. Furthermore, reports have surfaced suggesting that employees working in properties operated by Villa Resorts across the Maldives will be transported to Male’ for the rally against their will. Such actions raise questions about the party’s treatment of its employees and the limits of coercion in political mobilisation.

Local media reports indicate that certain gangs in the city have allegedly been offered large sums of money to participate in the rally. This revelation further exacerbates concerns about the ethical boundaries and the potential exploitation of vulnerable groups for partisan gain.

In an apparent bid to bolster attendance, the JP has reportedly made extensive efforts to attract as many people as possible to the rally. Individuals from various islands are being brought to Male’, adding to the growing sense of orchestrated mobilisation. While it is not uncommon for political events to seek a significant turnout, the means employed by the JP have raised eyebrows and generated controversy.

A political analyst, commenting on the JP’s recent activities, said that manipulation of public sentiment, coercion of employees, and the circumvention of democratic processes would further erode public trust and undermine the foundations of a fair and accountable political system.

The controversy surrounding the JP’s rally comes at a time when competition for the presidency in the Maldives is intensifying. With multiple parties, including the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the Maldives National Party (MNP), and the recently formed The Democrats, fielding candidates, the political atmosphere is already highly charged. Additionally, former Attorney General Dr Mohamed Munavvar and former Home Minister Umar Naseer have expressed their intentions to run as independent candidates, further adding to the race’s complexity.