Gasim urges MDP to back 'clean' coalition candidate

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) must set aside its own political ambitions and join the rest of the opposition parties to back a "clean" candidate for the upcoming president elections, opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim urged Saturday.

The main opposition leaders including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed along with Gasim 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.

However, the coalition now seems to have fractured with Nasheed contesting and winning the highly disputed presidential primary held by his party last week.

Elections Commission had said it would not accept the result insisting that Nasheed remains a convicted criminal who is constitutionally ineligible to contest.

Gasim in an extensive statement insisted that the opposition alliance backing a "risky" candidate with questions surrounding eligibility was unacceptable.

The business tycoon said all political leaders must face the bitter truth that none of them are currently eligible as presidential candidates and therefore must set aside own ambition for the greater good.

He also heavily criticized MDP for undermining the alliance by refusing to even entertain the idea of a candidate other than Nasheed.

Gasim who now lives in self imposed exile in Germany after he was convicted of bribery last year said his party would be more than willing to back a MDP candidate if it puts-forward a "clean" candidate without a criminal record, pending or current criminal charges and without dual citizenship.