'Final battle will be on foreign soil', pres mocks rivals in exile

Maldives' incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Friday took a jab at differences over choosing a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, saying that the "final battle" of the opposition leaders - most in exile would take place on "foreign soil."

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.

Nasheed who 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, has however refused to give up hope of contesting the elections.

Gasim meanwhile lives in exile in Germany with Sheikh Imran and Gayoom both in jail.

Speaking during a ruling party rally in the capital Male on Friday, president Yameen said only a few opposition leaders have stood up for what they call the fight for democracy but cannot muster the courage to return to the country.

"In this short Maldivian story who are the heroes? Where are the heroes who have stood for the so called democracy? How can they fight the final battle? If they want to fight in the final battle they must first come back," president Yameen said.

"Their final battle won't be here [Maldives]. It will take place where ever they are. We will watch that final battle."