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MDP sets date for presidential primary

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, who has already announced his intention to stand in the party primary, is in exile after fleeing from a 13-year prison term.



The Maldives’ largest opposition party said Thursday it will hold its presidential primary on May 30.

The Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) National Committee met Wednesday night to vote on a resolution submitted by the party’s leader, former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Nominations to stand will be open May 15 and voting will take place on May 30 on a “one-member-one-vote” basis, according to a brief party statement.

The resolution also talked about the possibility that the candidate fielded by the party might not be able to contest the 2018 presidential polls, due to be held in early September.

“The resolution proposed that the National Council will decide on the course of action in the event that the candidate is prevented from contesting in the Presidential elections.”

Nasheed, who has already announced his intention to stand in the MDP primary, is in exile after fleeing from a 13-year prison term. He was found guilty of ordering the “abduction” of a judge after a widely criticised and controversial trial in March 2015. With the jail term, Nasheed is unable to run for office.

Despite this barrier he has appointed MP Mohamed Aslam as his campaign manager for the primary.

Nasheed did not comment on the outcome of the MDP resolution vote.

But he reacted to Dunya Maumoon, the ex-foreign minister and daughter of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s daughter, asking for Indian intervention to free her jailed father.

“I am pleased @dunyamaumoon understands the need for Indian intervention in the Maldives. I have always held the same view,” Nasheed tweeted, referring to her criticism of his appeal for Indian help during the early stages of a political crisis that threw the country into turmoil.

A Supreme Court ruling ordered Nasheed’s release – and the release of other political prisoners – was revoked days after it was issued.

Another exiled opposition leader and individual named in the ruling, Gasim Ibrahim, has thrown his hat into the ring and the Jumhooree Party remains hopeful the tourism tycoon will be able to contest.

“As long as the party’s charter is not amended the leader of the party is the candidate,” JP spokesman Ali Solih told the Maldives Independent. “We have our congress in June, when we will decide what happens if our candidate is blocked from contesting.”

Gasim is in Germany after fleeing the Maldives on medical leave while serving a three-year sentence for bribery. He and Nasheed deny the charges against them.

It is highly likely that both would be arrested should they set foot on Maldivian soil unless charges and convictions against them are scrapped before election day or Yameen leaves office.

The Adhaalath Party, which is also in the opposition coalition, has never fielded its own candidate and endorses another party’s candidate. Nobody was available for comment about primaries.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives has said it will not be holding a primary.

The three parties comprising the opposition alliance have pledged to work together to field a unity candidate for the polls. However little has been revealed about the progress of negotiations.

It is not clear how Nasheed and Gasim’s professed desire to run for president fits in with the quest to find a unity candidate, let alone field one.