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Ibrahim Mohamed Solih declared MDP’s alternative candidate

The veteran lawmaker was appointed in a unanimous decision by 791 delegates at the MDP’s congress.



The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has declared Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as its alternative candidate after former president Mohamed Nasheed relinquished the party’s ticket.

Ibu, as the veteran lawmaker is popularly known, was appointed Saturday in a unanimous decision by 791 delegates at the MDP’s national congress on Ukulhas island.

Delegates voted 611-3 to amend MDP’s governing statutes to authorise either the congress or national council to appoint a replacement if a primary winner is unable to contest for any reason.

The MP for Hinnavaru becomes the common candidate of the opposition coalition, which announced Friday night that it will field the new MDP presidential candidate with a running mate from the Jumhooree Party.

The elusive agreement was reached after Nasheed announced he was dropping out in acquiescence to concerns that MDP could be left without a candidate in September’s polls.

The motion to award Ibu the ticket was proposed by MP Mohamed Aslam, Nasheed’s campaign manager, who denounced the exiled leader’s widely criticised terrorism conviction as politically motivated.

It stated that Nasheed will still be the MDP candidate if the situation changes when the Elections Commission opens applications in July.

Citing the EC’s “illegal” refusal to accept his candidacy, Nasheed urged delegates in a video message from Sri Lanka to decide on a replacement candidate.

“If circumstances arise where I can contest, I assure you that I’m ready to do the work,” he said.

The 51-year-old stressed that he would remain politically active. “God willing, I will be one of the hardest working activists in the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

With the constitution subverted and all political party leaders in jail or exile, Nasheed said the central issue in September’s poll is removing President Abdulla Yameen from office.

If Yameen is defeated, a national unity government would take office for an interim period, he continued, calling the MDP’s 2018 manifesto “a compass that shows the way forward.”

In his speech, Ibu said the occasion was not a happy one in the wake of Nasheed’s withdrawal, “a decision none of us has found that easy to accept,” and pledged to work towards realising the hope of MDP supporters for a Nasheed presidency.

He also pledged to ensure justice, repair relations with neighbours, and to free the security services of political influence.

As a lawmaker for 25 years, Ibu said he worked daily with people who held opposing views. The MDP parliamentary group leader was first elected to represent Lhaviyani atoll in 1994.

Opposition parties must compromise and work together for change, Ibu said, as the country needs “a moment of peace.”

He urged MDP to invite coalition partners to propose changes to its manifesto without compromising its essence.

Ibu said he would be “a man of the people.”

“I assure you that I will not be a slave to anyone,” he said.

– Extraordinary Congress –

The last MDP congress took place in 2010.

The party decided to hold its third congress in Ukulhas after the government refused to lease the convention centre in Malé.

The number of participants and party officials exceeded the population of about 1,100 on the central island, an MDP stronghold in an atoll with strong support for the opposition.

During the day, Chairman Hassan Latheef presented a report on the party’s activities, after which the five main components of the 2018 “blue economy” manifesto were unveiled, with pledges to empower councils, introduce paid maternity leave and reform the judiciary.

The working sessions proceeded with delays amid disagreements and points of orders.

After closed-door deliberations, Latheef annulled the first vote on the proposal to authorise the council or congress to appoint an alternative candidate.

In contrast to the second vote, 144 delegates voted against the proposed change during an earlier session.

The party rules required a secret ballot for congress votes, Latheef noted. The proposal was put to a vote again after delegates voted 716-63 in a secret ballot to allow open voting.

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