Top opposition MP backs Nasheed to rule out challenge in pres primary

A top opposition lawmaker has pledged his backing to self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed in the upcoming main Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential primary.

Nasheed lives in self imposed exile most recently in Sri Lanka after he was allowed to leave to the UK on medical leave in an internationally brokered deal following his jailing on terrorism charges.

Nasheed's 13 year prison sentence definitely rules him out of the elections in September. But the ex-president has announced his intention to contest the MDP primary on May 30.

"I will support president Nasheed in the MDP presidential primary 2018," North-Henveiru MP Abdulla Shahid who has been widely tipped to challenge Nasheed as the opposition candidate announced on Twitter.

The UN Human Rights Committee meanwhile had called on the Maldives government to allow Nasheed's candidacy in the presidential elections.

The panel of independent experts, who oversee governments’ compliance with the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, said in a finding that Nasheed’s conviction on terrorism charges was based on vague laws, contained serious flaws and violated his right to a fair trial.

Maldives government however had rejected the UN decision insisting that Nasheed's right had not been violated in anyway while it accepts his "conviction as lawful and final."

"Since Former President Nasheed was convicted on 13 March 2015 and sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment, he would not be eligible to run for the Office of the President unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release or pardon," the government had said.

Nasheed's comments somewhat explains the delay in the united opposition announcing a single candidate for the elections.

The main opposition leaders including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla inked pact to form what they called a 'reform alliance'.

With the candidacy of the four leaders - all convicted and serving sentences on questionable charges in serious doubt, the united opposition had announced plans to nominate a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.