MP Faisal Naseem was announced Friday night as the running mate of opposition presidential candidate, Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih.
The announcement was made after a secret ballot during a council meeting of the Jumhooree Party. He secured the ticket despite the withdrawal of support from JP leader Gasim Ibrahim.
Naseem won 15 votes while MP Ali Hussain got 14 votes. The other two candidates – JP’s deputy leaders Abdulla Ameen and Dr. Hussain Rasheed – won nine and two votes.
“There should not be any kind of inequality among the people. My principle is to ensure justice for everyone,” he told reporters immediately after the announcement.
He expressed confidence in winning the election with the Maldivian Democratic Party’s Solih and thanked Gasim for paving the way for him to go forward in politics.
Hussain, who lost by one vote, also announced his support for Naseem and promised to campaign for the opposition coalition. The main objective was to end the current regime, he said.
Although from Fuvahmulah, Naseem was elected as the MP for Kaashidhoo through a JP ticket in 2014. He previously represented Fuvahmulah in the Special Majlis (parliament) established to draft the new constitution.
Naseem is a successful businessman who conducts social welfare programs through his foundation.
Earlier in the day, Gasim withdrew his support for Naseem and urged council members to vote as they wished. He later congratulated him for winning the party ticket.
“By God’s will, I remain steadfast in the work to win the election with Ibu and Faisal,” he tweeted.
Former president Mohamed Nasheed also congratulated the vice presidential pick. “By God’s will, we will easily defeat President Yameen,” he said.
There was no reaction from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives at the time of going to press.
Solih and Naseem will run against President Abdulla Yameen and his running mate Dr. Mohamed Shaheem during the September presidential election.
Candidate applications will open from 23 July to 4 August, while people living outside their home islands can re-register their place of residence from 17 July to 11 August.
The Elections Commission will announce the final candidate list on 18 August and official campaigning will begin that day. Campaigning will stop 23 September, which is voting day.