Maldives ruling party looks to revise pres qualifications ahead of polls

Maldives' ruling party has submitted a bill on qualifications of a president ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, it has emerged.

The exact nature of the new bill proposed by the chief government lawmaker Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik remains unclear, but the government controlled parliament is set to hear the first reading of the bill later Monday.

According to ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) sources, the bill relates to Article 109 of the constitution which stipulates the qualifications for election as president.

Qualifications for president

  • (a) be a Maldivian citizen born to parents who are Maldivian citizens, and who is not also a citizen of a foreign country;
  • (b) be a Muslim and a follower of a Sunni school of Islam;
  • (c) be at least thirty-five years of age;
  • (d) be of sound mind;
  • (e) not have an undischarged decreed debt;
  • (f) not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or pardon for the offence for which he was sentenced; and
  • (g) despite the provisions of article (f), not have been convicted of an offence for which a hadd is prescribed in Islam or of fraud, deception or criminal breach of trust.

The bill comes with a few months remaining for the crunch presidential elections which has been slated for September 23.

Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile has already begun his campaign for the elections despite a criminal conviction that bars his candidacy.

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.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison over the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting judge while he was president.

The main opposition leaders including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and 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. Nasheed is also pressing ahead with his campaign despite the country's electoral watchdog refusing to accept his candidacy.