PPM skips primary, gifts ticket to pres Yameen

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on Tuesday officially announced its decision to give the party's presidential ticket for the upcoming presidential elections to incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom without holding a primary.

Speaking to reporters after an impromptu council sit-down, PPM deputy leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla said the council's unanimous decision was in accordance with the party's charter which states that an incumbent would automatically get the party ticket for re-election.

The Fonadhoo lawmaker added that given the unparalleled development Maldives has witnessed in the past four years, president Yameen truly deserves a second term in office.

The announcement came hours after the elections commission had barred president Yameen's main challenger from the September elections.

The commission had barred self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed from contesting 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 as per the constitution. But the ex-president is set to contest the primary on May 30 unchallenged.

AVAS has managed to get a copy of letter sent by the Elections Commission to MDP ordering the party not to go ahead with the primary pointing out that Nasheed's prison sentence disqualifies him as a presidential candidate.

The letter had also warned action if MDP holds the primary with Nasheed adding that the result of the elections would not be accepted.

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

MDP had previously vowed to challenge any dispute over Nasheed's candidacy insisting that the elections commission does not have the authority to determine the legitimacy of presidential candidates.

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.