Court issues stay order on primary over Nasheed's candidacy

Civil Court has issued a stay order on main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's (MDP) ongoing presidential primary over self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed's candidacy.

The Attorney General (AG) on behalf of the Elections Commission had requested for the stay order arguing that MDP plans to hold the primary with Nasheed as the only candidate, when he remains a convicted criminal.

Elections Commission had barred Nasheed from contesting in the primary pointing out that his terrorism conviction prevents him from meeting the required qualifications to be president.

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.

Hours after voting began, the civil court had issued the stay order on the primary. The court had also ordered the relevant authorities to stop the primary if MDP refuses to comply with the order.

The commission had warned action if MDP holds the primary with Nasheed adding that the result of the elections would not be accepted adding that it would reject the results of any primary held with candidates who do not meet the qualifications prescribed in the constitution.

But a day before the elections, the commission had sent letters to the police chief and home minister saying that MDP was set to ignore the commission's warnings and proceed with Nasheed as a candidate.

The commission said the primary would be illegal as the candidate remains a convicted criminal and urged the authorities to stop MDP from holding the primary.

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.