Former president and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) frontrunner presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed has said that it is premature to “lose hope” in seeing a single candidate from the joint opposition coalition to contest in the upcoming presidential election.
In an interview to Mihaaru Tuesday, Nasheed, who is currently in Sri Lanka assured that the opposition coalition would be united for the presidential election slated for September.
He also said that the election would be free, fair and inclusive, and that candidates from all parties would be able to contest freely.
“Hopefully, the Jumhoory Party candidate approved by the coalition would be our running-mate. I believe that Honourable Qasim Ibrahim will also be able to contest in the upcoming election,” Nasheed said about the Jumhoory Party leader who was disqualified from contesting after amendments were brought to the Constitution that bars anyone above the age of 65 from competing for office.
The amendment that disqualifies Qasim from contesting should be removed, the former president had said. He added that the qualifications for election as president were changed specifically to eliminate certain people from contesting.
Nasheed also reiterated that the international community is keeping a cautious eye on the Maldives right now, and that its focus goes beyond the controversies that took place in February, which resulted in a 40-day state of emergency.
Highlighting how that the European Union Council had warned of targeted sanctions against state officials if the situation in the country should deteriorate, Nasheed said that threatening to dissolve a political party and dictating the terms of its primary election raises red flags.
“Attacking political parties is indication that the situation in the country is becoming worse. In European communities that I am familiar with, dissolving a political party is much more serious than dissolving the bench at the Supreme Court,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed assured that everything would come together in the end, allowing for an environment conductive of holding an inclusive election.
While Nasheed assured that the upcoming presidential election would be inclusive of the opposition, he recently found himself under scrutiny by the Jumhoory Party leadership due to campaigning for candidacy before the joint opposition had come to decision regarding its presidential candidate.
Despite showing a united front, the joint opposition coalition had not revealed the “formula” – or how they are going to come to an agreement on a single presidential candidate, approved by all parties in the coalition; a fact duly noted by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) repeatedly as the election draws nearer.
Signs of hostility within the coalition became more evident earlier in the week when the former chairperson of MDP Ali Waheed, who is currently living in self-exile in the UK, joined Jumho
In his inauguration to the party held Germany, where the party’s leader was granted political asylum, he had blamed MDP for the coalition’s delay in coming to an agreement regarding a candidate representing them in the election. He said that MDP should be willing to compromise, just as the Jumhoory Party is willing to do so, for the greater good.
“You can’t move forward with egocentric and self-righteous beliefs about a certain individual being the only viable candidate, and the only hope for this country. Our coalition can’t move forward with these beliefs either,” Waheed said.
Many seemingly snide remarks about MDP were also made by axed Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel who is now a political advisor to Qasim, also living in the UK in self-exile, during Waheed’s inauguration.
MDP member representing Hithadhoo-South constituency MP Ali Nizar had taken to Twitter to respond to the remarks by alleging that “selfishness” was mutual in both parties.
However, the official spokesperson for the joint opposition coalition and Galolhu-South MP Ahmed Mahloof had consoled the opposition supporters in a Tweet that read: “Political parties with different ideologies, and each party wants to nominate a [presidential] candidate. That’s not a problem. Sometimes you’ll hear disheartening talks too. Don’t think about it. [President] Yameen will laugh, [but] God willing, when we win the election, the coalition would remain too.”
While incumbent President Abdulla Yameen has officially begun campaigning for his re-election bid, no other party has announced a candidate that would contest against the president.
Meanwhile, the presidential election is only three months away, and the Elections Commission has even begun its preparations for it.