The Jumhooree Party has decided to field its candidate in September’s presidential election if the opposition coalition is unable to agree on a single candidate.
Exiled leader Gasim Ibrahim made the announcement via video conference Thursday night during an unofficial meeting with delegates at the party’s third national conference.
The two-day conference got underway Friday afternoon at Gasim’s Paradise Island Resort.
After weeks of bickering with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party over fielding a single candidate, the JP announced a shadow cabinet last week without any MDP members, prompting denials from the Adhaalath Party and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s aides about an agreement to back a JP-led coalition in September.
JP leaders later clarified that Gasim had expressed his thoughts on a hypothetical scenario.
Both Gasim and former president Mohamed Nasheed – who secured the MDP’s ticket in an uncontested primary last month – are barred from contesting due to controversial prison sentences.
Gasim told the 400 delegates at the JP congress that the party will decide its candidate before the Elections Commission opens applications on July 15.
The JP’s charter or governing statutes have since been amended by the delegates to allow the party’s council to select a candidate from amongst its members.
Gasim’s wife Aishath Nahula and national team footballer Ahmed Ashad were both elected to the council as new members.
The JP charter previously stated that its leader is the party’s presidential candidate.
But de facto leader Gasim is legally barred from holding the post due to changes brought to the prison and parole law, which prohibits convicts from holding high-level or leadership posts in political parties
The delegates chose to keep the leader’s post vacant until the Supreme Court rules on an appeal of Gasim’s conviction. A proposal for the council to delegate the leader’s powers to one of four deputy leaders was also approved.
Out of five contenders for deputy leader, former state minister Abdulla Ameen (237 votes), former transport minister Ameen Ibrahim (227 votes), former state minister Dr Hussein Rasheed Ahmed (224 votes) and former state minister Ahmed Fayaz (167 votes) secured the four places.
Abdulla Kamaludeen, a former deputy leader, missed out with 106 votes.
Former MDP chairman Ali Waheed was elected unopposed to the newly-created post of party president to oversee all administrative matters. He was elected with 154-102 votes.
Former MP Abdulla Mausoom was elected as vice president with 240 votes.
Gasim was found guilty of attempted bribery and sentenced to more than three years in prison in August last year.
The Maamigili MP was granted medical leave to seek treatment in Singapore and later secured a special permit from the German government to travel to Frankfurt, where he continues to reside.
Photo: Mohamed Sharuhaan for Raajje.mv