Nasheed slams 'handpicked' electoral watchdog over primary warning

Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday slammed the country's electoral watchdog announcement rejecting his candidacy and accused it of being "handpicked" by incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Elections Commission had effectively rejected Nasheed's candidacy in the upcoming main opposition 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 rules him out of the elections in September. But the ex-president is set to contest the MDP primary on May 30 unchallenged.

The Commission in a statement had warned to reject the results of any primary held with candidates who do not meet the qualifications prescribed in the constitution.

Shortly after the announcement, Nasheed took to Twitter to deride the commission saying that it has now blocked the candidacy of every opposition leader in the country.

"The Maldives’ Election Commission, handpicked by President Yameen, has announced that none of the country’s opposition leaders can participate in the upcoming Presidential elections," Nasheed said.

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.