In an unprecedented move in the country's political history, the ruling party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has rented a yacht worth MVR 40 million ($2.5 million) for use during President Solih's upcoming presidential campaign tour.
The president began his campaign trail today on the luxury Sirena 64 yacht, named 'Magic Land'. The yacht, which docked at B. Komandoo this morning, is one of the highest-end luxury yachts available, featuring state-of-the-art rooms, a modern kitchen, and a fully-stocked bar.
This expenditure has attracted much criticism, with many alleging that the president is out of touch with the realities of his constituents. The contrast between this lavish mode of transport and the traditionally humble campaign trails by sea, usually involving rented speed boats or fishing boats, is stark.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, also of MDP, was noted for his frugality during campaign periods. His humble mode of transport often involved cargo and fishing boats. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, President Solih also adopted a similar approach, going as far as to post pictures of himself sleeping on these simple vessels. The stark departure from these modest beginnings is attracting significant attention.
An online netizen voiced the growing public sentiment, stating, “He is coming to islands with access to basic necessities in an ultra-luxury yacht." This statement encapsulates the criticism that President Solih's ostentatious campaign trail might further alienate him from his constituents, as he appears to be distanced from the everyday struggles they face.
The choice to use a 64-foot luxury yacht for the presidential campaign, a first for Maldivian politics, has set a controversial precedent.