Opposition rejects EC authority to disqualify candidates

Maldives' united opposition on Monday rejected the electoral watchdog's authority to determine the legitimacy of candidates for the upcoming presidential elections.

Elections Commission on Saturday had effectively rejected self-exiled former president Mohamed 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.

During a united opposition press briefing on Monday, Maduvvaree lawmaker Ahmed Ameeth insisted that the elections commission had no legal authority to determine whether a candidate meets the required qualifications to be president.

"If there is any dispute regarding a qualifications of a presidential candidate, then according to the constitution it is the Supreme Court that would settle the dispute. Elections Commission has no legal authority to have a say in this," Ameeth 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.