The Adhaalath Party would “find it hard to accept” a female vice presidential candidate for the opposition coalition’s joint ticket.
A majority of scholars have advised that a woman could not become head of state in an Islamic nation, the religious conservative party’s spokesman Ali Zahir told reporters Friday night.
He was speaking at a press conference after a meeting between the Adhaalath leadership and coalition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu.’
The Jumhooree Party is due to announce the coalition running mate on Tuesday amid speculation that it would propose exiled leader Gasim Ibrahim’s wife Aishath Nahula, a possibility that has divided opinion among supporters.
Previously uninvolved in politics, the business magnate’s fourth wife was elected to the JP council at the party’s national congress last month.
Adhaalath has unofficially informed the JP about the opinion of its scholars, Zahir said. The party’s council would make a decision once the running mate is announced, he added.
The presidential election is scheduled for September 23.
Coalition partners previously disputed the late Adhaalath scholar Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari’s contention that female judges cannot adjudicate criminal matters.
MP Eva Abdulla called the remarks “sexism, plain and simple” as former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, an Azhar-educated scholar, argued that there was “strong evidence in Islamic law that women can hold all political and judicial offices.”
– Running mate –
After former president Mohamed Nasheed dropped out of the race, the coalition agreed in principle to field an alternative Maldivian Democratic Party presidential candidate with a JP running mate.
Other contenders floated as the JP pick include MPs Ali Hussain and Faisal Naseem along with deputy leader Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, former MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom, and former president’s office minister Abdulla Ameen.
Coalition partners MDP and JP have a history of mistrust and squabbling between supporters.
Last week, Gasim asked the coalition for assurances on 11 key pledges, opposing the MDP’s manifesto pledges to appoint foreign judges and shift to a parliamentary system.
But Ibu told the press he believed the JP’s proposals could be incorporated in a yet-to-be-finalised coalition manifesto.
Despite repeated questioning, Ibu and Zahir refused to be drawn on the running mate issue, declining to say whether either party has any criteria or conditions.
They insisted that the JP would propose an “acceptable” candidate.
Ibu expressed confidence in the longevity of the present alliance. Previous coalitions were formed hastily and out of necessity ahead of second-round run-offs in both the 2008 and 2013 elections, he noted.
“But this time we’re contesting after everyone sat down together to discuss and agreed how to shape the government and structure and the policies as well before the first round,” he said.