On Wednesday, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met with the media after more than 300 days and made quite the impact with his first-ever public announcement about the President's wish for re-election in 2023.
But the President's announcement has not gone down so well, especially with his long-term friend and potentially future political competitor, the speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed.
The media appearance was all about reassurance
President Solih had last faced questions from the media last August. His appearance yesterday at the press conference held at the President's Office was mostly due to the negativity the government is facing amid financial uncertainty and high inflation.
President Solih looked to reassure the nation and declared that the Maldives’ economy is on a positive path, announcing that the country’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to surpass MVR100 billion in 2023 and GDP growth at 13 percent.
The President stated that revenue this year had exceeded earlier forecasts of MVR8.5 billion and reached MVR11.1 billion. Despite this growth, he warned that global economic uncertainties and rising commodity prices would inevitably impact the country’s economy, noting that the administration would be vigilant and steadfast in its response to the risks.
At the press conference, the President highlighted what his administration has achieved in the last few months and further announced that the administration plans to open applications for 3,000 residential plots in Malé City by the end of June.
President Solih announces his wish for re-election
While facing questions from the much-eager media, President Solih inadvertently announced that he wishes for re-election in next year's presidential polls.
President Solih said that he can say with confidence that he would be able to win the 2023 election with the backing of a coalition as MDP alone cannot win it.
He further said that the current administration has begun several projects that are closely related to the people and that these projects should not be halted in the coming years.
President Solih also said that the best way to select a presidential candidate from MDP would be to hold a primary and that MDP would be following its constitution.
He declared himself a choice as a presidential candidate for next year's crucial election.
Speaker Nasheed aims a jab at the President
Speaker of the Parliament and former President Mohamed Nasheed has never hidden his wish to compete for the Presidency come next year.
Back in 2018, Nasheed had fully backed his long-term friend and colleague Solih but looking at the comments coming in from the leader of MDP, it looks like the support for the president had somewhat waned.
This was most evident by the first tweet Nasheed posted following the President's announcement yesterday.
The Speaker indicated that many were texting him for a comment on the matter.
Nasheed said that in his opinion, this was not the moment to prioritize one's own aspirations and move to secure the power to rule. But he said that this was rather the time to stabilize the foreign currency reserve and to work on ensuring the country's financial security.
His clear jab at the President may well be the first sign that the two MDP leaders would face each other in a fierce competition for the MDP Presidential candidateship.
If the run-up to the MDP internal election in which the party divided itself into two factions is any indication, the battle for the presidency candidateship would be even more intense and heated.
But the result may well shape MDP's future for the next few years.