The usually united front of the PPM-PNC coalition has shown signs of fracturing just weeks before the swearing-in of the president-elect, signalling a precarious start for the incoming government.

Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the interim leader of the PPM-PNC coalition, has openly criticised Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, former Vice President and current lead counsel for ex-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Abdul Raheem’s pointed comments reveal simmering discontent with Jameel’s past actions and present influence within the coalition. Speaking at a rally in Hulhudhoo, Abdul Raheem did not hold back in condemning those who, in his view, betrayed the coalition’s efforts and ideologies in the past, laying blame on them for bringing the MDP to power in 2018.

The contention appears to stem from remarks made by Jameel at a recent PPM-PNC meeting, where he highlighted the sacrifices of Yameen, including his time spent in jail, in achieving the coalition’s victory in the recent presidential elections. He emphasised the unity and effort needed to win the September presidential election, ostensibly suggesting that the current success was built on the foundations laid by Yameen.

Abdul Raheem’s rebuttal was not merely an expression of personal grievances but an indication of deeper ideological divides. He accused Jameel and others of conveniently forgetting the arduous journey and the unfounded criminal accusations that Yameen faced, seemingly undermining the very coalition they are now part of. Despite not mentioning Jameel by name during his speech, the implications were clear, as he referenced past events where Jameel stood in opposition to Yameen’s administration.

Jameel’s political trajectory has been notably tumultuous, having been ousted from his vice-presidential post by Yameen himself, through a no-confidence vote, which led to his brief alignment with the then opposition. His return to the PPM fold and appointment as Yameen’s lead attorney marked a full circle, although his loyalty is now being questioned by influential figures within the coalition.

Observers note that these rifts within the PPM-PNC could have repercussions for the coalition’s ability to govern effectively. The challenge for the incoming president will be to mend these fractures and foster a sense of collective purpose.

These emerging rifts are particularly poignant as they hint at a broader identity crisis within the party. With President-elect Dr Mohamed Muizzu seeking his presidency under PPM’s sister branch PNC, the PNC’s leadership has been actively seeking to increase its membership as the main ruling party. While Yameen has hinted at discontent over PPM members jumping ship to PNC, Muizzu and Abdul Raheem have both assured that the membership drive is aimed at attracting new members, not just those already within the coalition.

While an influx of new members may bring with it a diversity of perspectives and allegiances, some of which may not align with the PPM’s historical narrative or its leaders’ recollection of the past struggles that led to the formation of PNC as a backup wing of PPM. This evolving dynamic poses a strategic conundrum: how to integrate these new members while maintaining a cohesive and unified party ethos.

This public discord comes at a critical juncture for the PPM-PNC coalition, which is transitioning into the ruling party. The leadership’s unity is crucial for the government’s stability, especially as it faces the imminent task of governing a nation that is witnessing a turbulent conflict in parliament, which has brought the legislative branch to a standstill.