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Nasheed gives up MDP ticket

Nasheed said he was acquiescing to concerns that MDP could be left without a candidate.

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Former president Mohamed Nasheed has relinquished the Maldivian Democratic Party’s presidential ticket, citing concerns that the main opposition party could be left without a candidate in September’s polls.

The decision will be announced at the MDP’s third national congress due to begin Saturday on Ukulhas island, the exiled opposition leader tweeted.

The 51-year-old informed the MDP leadership and opposition lawmakers of his decision Friday morning, sources confirmed to the Maldives Independent

It comes after weeks of uncertainty and bickering in the opposition coalition over fielding a single candidate to challenge President Abdulla Yameen. Coalition partners have been praising Nasheed even as his supporters express sorrow and disappointment on social media.

Jumhooree Party deputy leader Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan called the decision “a sadaqat to the Maldivian people” that has revived hopes for a unity ticket. The move was “courageous” and selfless, said Adhaalath Party spokesman Ali Nazeer.

MDP MP Abdulla Shahid, often touted as a possible contender, declared his support for parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the party’s candidate. Other opposition figures have previously thrown their weight behind Ibu, a widely respected veteran lawmaker.

The party’s governing statutes must be amended with the consent of congress delegates to award the ticket with or without a primary.

Nasheed secured the MDP’s ticket unopposed in a nationwide primary that was declared unlawful by the Elections Commission over his ineligibility to run for office with a 13-year prison sentence.

He was found guilty of ordering the “abduction” of a judge after a widely condemned trial in 2015.

On February 1, the Supreme Court quashed his conviction in a landmark ruling by the full bench. But Yameen reacted by declaring a state of emergency and arresting the chief justice. A day after the security forces stormed the apex court, the three remaining justices rescinded the order.

In April, the government rejected the UN Human Rights Committee’s ruling to restore Nasheed’s right to run for office.

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