Qasim Ibrahim, leader and first round ousted presidential candidate of Jumhooree Party (JP), announced on Saturday that he would support neither of the candidates in the second-round run-off of the presidential elections scheduled for 30 September. He did not want to shoulder the fallout of what a last-minute coalition government supported by him would wind up becoming, he said. The two run-off candidates had floated proposals for a second-round coalition, Qasim confirmed.

Speaking with the press after the announcement, Qasim characterised all the governments he had formed coalitions with as having misrepresented their intentions to him.

“I don’t want to pretend to be too relevant. I got votes far below Umar Naseer in this election,” he said.

Qasim, who had managed to draw 15 and 24 percent of the vote in the first rounds of the presidential elections in 2008 and 2013 respectively, had been labelled ‘kingmaker’ by many observers of Maldivian politics. He garnered a mere three percent of the vote this year. The business tycoon did not contest the 2018 elections; instead, he chose to partner with the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and throw his support behind the current incumbent and second-term hopeful, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

“Everything is being blamed on me. Governments I have supported, people are blaming us. We didn’t know that anyone [could embezzle to such an extent]. Even now many people are being prosecuted [outside of due process] unjustly,” Qasim said.

Qasim went on to state that he had lost his standing among voters because he had partnered with ineffective governments which had taken away his dignity and soul; characterising those leaderships as corrupt and two-faced.

“Now this is the third government we have supported. All governments lie to the people and make promises only to later humiliate them. This government has fulfilled very little of their promises and our party [JP] has received very little [as a result],” Qasim said, highlighting what he saw as insincerity between coalition partners.

According to Qasim, India’s influence in the Maldives increased because of government actions, including those of former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in addition to the current Solih administration. While he also characterised Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) led administration as having perpetrated huge frauds, he was unhappy with the Solih administration’s decision to enter into agreements with India and thus chose not to partner with either party for the second round.

“India is a friendly country to us. The Indian government is also helping us a lot. However, we have to cross [draw] a line… Not only this government. First, President Nasheed’s government brought the helicopter. The stipulations in that agreement are outside the boundaries of what I believe [to be proper]. This is the one [helicopter] in Laamu Atoll,” Qasim said, going to indicate that the Yameen administration opened the door for greater influence by engaging in discussions on Radar installation and Uthuru Thilafalhu.

“I see the legal risks. I don’t want to give details,” Qasim said.

Preempting talk of him retiring from the political arena, Qasim said that even though he did not support any other party in the second round, he would promote JP and would always work for reform in the national interest, Qasim said.

Malé Mayor Mohamed Muizzu, the PPM/PNC candidate, and incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the MDP candidate, are set to compete for the nation’s top job in the second-round run-off of the presidential elections on 30 September.