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Maldives govt refutes alleged UN push for Nasheed's candidacy

Maldives government on Wednesday downplayed claims that the United Nations (UN) would push the candidacy of self exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed to contest in the presidential elections.

Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil told state TV that the UN won't demand the candidacy of a particular individual in contradiction to the laws governing a soverign state.

AG's response comes in the wake of claims made by former foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed that the UN human rights committee would rule in favour of Nasheed to ensure his candidacy in next year's presidential elections.

Nasheed is presently ineligible to contest due to a 13-year prison sentence on a controversial terrorism charge. He was found guilty in early 2015 of ordering the arbitrary arrest and detention of a sitting judge. Nasheed was granted asylum in the UK in May 2016 after he was authorised to seek medical treatment in an internationally brokered deal.

Shaheed who now serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief however said on Twitter that there was no doubt that UNHRC would declare Nasheed eligible to contest the elections next year.

The AG however, insisted that no international body had the authority to void or overrule a court verdict.

"Maldives is a soverign country. We have to abide by our laws, our courts. Its not in UN's mandate to push for the candidacy of a certain individual," AG stressed.

Nasheed's ineligibility and in the face of mounting government authority, he had inked a historic pact with his arch nemesis former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and other opposition party leaders to put up a united bid to defeat president Yameen.

The now united opposition is now engaged in discussions to field a single candidate against president Yameen.

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