MDP boycotts elections advisory committee over campaign block

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Tuesday boycotted the national advisory committee for the upcoming presidential elections accusing the electoral watchdog of ignoring repeated requests to facilitate the party's campaign for the crunch elections.

Speaking to reporters after walking out of the committee, MDP's vice president Mohamed Shifaz said the government has been using the police to block the party's campaign.

Police had prevented MDP supporters from putting up posters in the capital Male on Monday after blocking a campaign run on Friday.

Shifaz said the elections commission chief Ahmed Shareef Adam had also admitted that MDP's campaign had been impeded but has thus far refused to take any action to find a solution.

"Find us a solution. Then we're ready to move forward with them [elections commission]," Shifaz said.

Police on Friday had arrested several prominent MDP officials over a campaign event for self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

MDP had planned a run as a campaign event at the running track in the capital Male on Friday afternoon. But police had blocked the event saying that the sports ministry "suddenly needed" the running track from 4pm to 6pm.

Several MDP officials including chairperson Hassan Latheef, his deputy Ali Nizar and MDP lawmaker Imthiyaz Fahmy had been taken into custody along with several supporters.

However, police had released them shortly after, MDP had confirmed.

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.