President-elect Dr Mohamed Muizzu, who clinched victory over incumbent President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih, has expressed his wish for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to operate as a “responsible opposition” in the new term starting 17 November.

Speaking at a celebratory rally at the Social Centre, Muizzu extended his gratitude to the MDP and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for welcoming his victory graciously, in keeping with the tenets of a healthy democracy. 

“I express gratitude for the congratulatory message extended to me. As I also thank the President for meeting me yesterday, I urge [MDP] to prepare to operate as a responsible opposition,” he said.

Muizzu, who has lived in the UK for eight years, indicated that a responsible opposition, much like the UK model, is essential for the effective functioning of a democracy. “A responsible opposition will criticise what the government is doing and bring better policies to the people. However, it will also stand together on everything that is important to the country,” explained Muizzu.

President Solih, in a press conference held at the President’s Office, echoed Muizzu’s sentiment. He affirmed that the MDP, which has earlier served as the main opposition from 2012 to 2018, aims to hold the incoming administration accountable. He highlighted the immediate priority for MDP to be unification and fortification of the party structure.

This comes as a significant political gesture from the President-elect, given the underlying message of unity and collective responsibility, especially on matters of “important national interest”. Muizzu noted, “This country is [bigger] than the interests of anyone or any political leader or any political party. The interests of the country must come first.”

Not just stopping at calls for unity and responsible opposition, Muizzu took the occasion to extend his thanks to all Maldivians — those who supported him and those who did not. “I want to include in this thanks those who did not vote for me and disagreed with me. They are also the people of Maldives. Because I will serve without discrimination and equally for all people,” he elaborated.

As Maldives prepares for a change in leadership, Muizzu’s emphasis on the role of a responsible opposition and the need for unity signify a matured approach to governance, hinting at a future where the interests of the nation supersede those of individual parties or leaders. This resonates with his closing remarks urging the people to resolve to “put the interests of the country above the interests of each of us”.