JP leader Gasim gives single candidate ultimatum to opposition

Self-exiled Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim has given until July 15 for the united opposition to nominate a coalition candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

Speaking during a video conference call ahead of JP's national congress held on Friday, the business tycoon said his party would field its own candidate for the crunch elections if the united opposition fails to nominate a single candidate before July 15.

Gasim's ultimatum comes as the united opposition struggles to agree on a single candidate with months remaining for the September elections.

JP meanwhile has been forced to downplay a reported rift with coalition partner and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to rekindle hopes of nominating a single candidate for the elections.

The reassurance came less than a day after Gasim announced his own coalition government for the elections with MDP glaringly left out.

The business tycoon who now lives in self imposed exile in Germany after he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to over three years in prison in August last year via Facebook live announced his government with a shadow cabinet which included key members of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).

The former lawmaker had named himself as president with former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed who had recently joined JP as his deputy to lead a government of 20 ministries. Notable members of Gasim's shadow cabinet included Gayoom's two daughters, AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, jailed former defence minister Colonel Mohamed Nazim while Gayoom's now jailed lawmaker son Faris Maumoon had been named as the parliament Speaker.

Gasim had glaringly left out main MDP which he along with former presidents Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed and Imran Abdulla had been working together as part of a coalition.

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, even before Gasim's announcement, the coalition appeared to have fractured with Nasheed contesting and winning the highly disputed presidential primary held by his party recently.