Opposition parties in the Maldives agreed yesterday to field a joint candidate in September’s presidential elections to challenge incumbent Abdulla Yameen, whose crackdown on dissent has alarmed the international community.
Yameen declared a state of emergency in February in the Indian Ocean honeymoon paradise, a move critics say was aimed at averting his impeachment. All his main rivals have meanwhile been jailed.
Yesterday’s announcement came after former president Mohamed Nasheed, who is in self-imposed exile in London, said on Friday that he would not return to run in the
September 23 vote.
Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said yesterday it has agreed to join several other parties, including a breakaway faction of Yameen’s ruling party, to form an alliance.
“My heartfelt congratulations to the joint opposition parties who have today agreed to field a common presidential ticket,” Nasheed said on
Opposition sources in the Maldives said the MDP’s parliamentary leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is tipped to be named as the common candidate.
Yameen declared the state of emergency - which lasted 45 days - after the top court ordered dissidents to be freed from jail and seats of ruling party MPs sacked by Yameen to be restored.
The chief justice and the Supreme Court justice were subsequently arrested along with Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a former strongman who ruled for 30 years until 2008.
The United States and the European Union have expressed deep concern over Yameen’s actions. Rights activists have asked the EU to slap sanctions on Yameen and key aides.
The Maldives Elections Commission has invited seven countries to observe the presidential elections scheduled for September 23.
Two European countries, two South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) countries, two Asia-Pacific countries and one Arab country have been invited to observe election, the commission said.
Furthermore, three international bodies have been invited to observe the election. Elections Commissioner Ahmed Akram said the invited countries were selected under the advice of international organisations involved in the monitoring of polls.
More countries and organisations will be provided the opportunity to monitor and observe the elections once the application is officially opened, Akram added.
Filing of nominations will open from July 15 to July 27 while listing the final candidates will be held on August 9.
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