Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), on Tuesday, opened applications for the party’s primary ahead of this year's presidential elections.
According to the statement released by the main opposition, the applications will be open until May 19.
Whilst the primary election is slated for May 30, the party has yet revealed only one of their primary candidates, former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Although Nasheed had early on announced that he would be contesting in MDP’s primary, he is currently ineligible to run in the upcoming election as he was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment on terrorism charges in March 2015, in a trial that was widely criticised for lack of due process.
The Maldivian Constitution states that a person elected as president should not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than 12 months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or he has been pardoned.
However, the United Nations' Human Rights Committee had earlier in the month ruled in favour of Nasheed, and firmly advocated his right to stand for office. The Maldivian government had quickly rejected the decision, maintaining that Nasheed’s arrest was not arbitrary and affirmed that the former president would not be allowed to contest in the election as he was sentenced legally.
In rebuttal to the government’s decision, the opposition presents the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on February 1 to release high profile political prisoners, including the former president Nasheed. However, after the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed over terrorism charges for conspiring to overthrow the government, the court order to release the prisoners was overturned by the remaining three judges who issued the order. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed have been remanded until the end of their trials.
MDP has further announced that ballot boxes for its primary elections will be set in every inhabited island in the Maldives as well as Colombo and Kandy of Sri Lanka, Trivandrum and Bangalore of India, Kuala Lampur of Malaysia and London of England.