The ruling coalition of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is currently in the midst of internal discord, triggered by a contentious decision by its leadership to exclude certain candidates from the upcoming parliamentary primaries.

The decision, which has been met with significant backlash, led to accusations against the PPM-PNC leadership and sparked a verbal confrontation at the party headquarters in Malé. In response to the mounting pressure, the coalition’s leadership, under the stewardship of President Mohamed Muizzu, reversed the initial decision, thereby allowing all interested candidates to participate in the primaries.

Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the Chairperson of the PNC, announced this reversal on social media, stating, “In light of the grievances lodged following the decision to exclude certain candidates from the primaries, President Muizzu, the leader of our party, has reconsidered and reversed his initial decision, thereby permitting all candidates to participate in the primaries.”

The PNC had initially defended its decision, citing that it was aimed at candidates who were inciting internal strife and those who had not acted in the coalition’s best interest. The candidates were informed of this decision through a letter signed by Abdulla, which subsequently led to a verbal altercation at the PNC headquarters.

The decision prompted some candidates to announce their intention to contest as independent candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Some candidates and their supporters also submitted resignation letters, formally requesting their removal from the party.

The PNC-PPM coalition plans to hold its parliamentary primaries on 27 January to finalise its candidates for the parliamentary elections scheduled for 17 March. The candidates initially excluded from the primaries are those who the PNC alleges were backing former President Abdulla Yameen, following a rift between Yameen and Muizzu, the letter said without mentioning Yameen.

Abdulla, who also serves as the Special Advisor at the President’s Office to President Muizzu, stated in his letter that the party deemed those candidates did not meet the criteria for nomination, as they had not worked in the party’s best interest.