JP to field own candidate for the presidential election

Jumhooree Party (JP)'s Council has approved to field a candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

The decision comes after the council recommended that the party field a presidential candidate and form a coalition led by the party at its national conference held last month.

At the JP council meeting held Tuesday, the party's leader Gasim Ibrahim asked the council members to vote on whether to proceed with the decision taken at the National Conference. The motion was passed by a majority of council members.

Those who voted in favor of the motion include Transport Minister and Gasim's wife Aishath Nahla, and several senior government officials. However, Minister at the President's Office, Ahmed Sameer, did not vote for the motion.

The JP is already in a coalition with the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). JP's decision to contest the presidential election comes while President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has invited JP to form an alliance with MDP for the upcoming presidential election.

JP's Constitution used to state that the party's presidential candidate would be the party's leader. The party's leader since its inception has been Gasim Ibrahim. However, the party recently amended its Constitution to state that any party member who wishes to contest in the presidential election can apply for it, and the party's candidate would be determined by a council vote.

Gasim has contested two presidential elections since the Green Constitution came into force. He contested the 2008 and 2013 elections on the JP ticket and later formed coalitions when he lost the first rounds. Both elections were won by the candidates he formed alliances with.

While JP's latest decision has confirmed that the party would not be forming a coalition with MDP in the first round of the presidential election, MDP's President, Mohamed Nasheed, has been reiterating that he would not back the party's presidential candidate in the presidential election. Following his loss to President Solih in MDP's presidential primary, Nasheed has been running a separate political movement within the MDP called 'Fikuregge Dhirun'. Nasheed has been meeting with Gasim's advisors to discuss working with him in the upcoming presidential election and has been lauding Gasim in recent weeks. He was also present alongside Gasim at the opening and closing ceremonies of the JP Congress.

Some senior JP leaders believe the party has a good chance of winning this year's presidential election. The lack of Nasheed's support for President Solih, and the opposition candidate, former President Abdulla Yameen being unable to contest due to serving a sentence raises Gasim's chances of winning the election.