Gasim's JP forfeited pres candidacy to avoid election risk

Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) forfeited the chance to nominate its own presidential candidate and settle for the running mate slot as it did not wish to take a risk so close to the presidential elections, the party's acting leader Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan said Saturday.

Maldives' united opposition which JP is part of have finally agreed on nominating a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

The agreement was reached hours after self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed announced his withdrawal from the presidential race in September.

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

However, the coalition appeared to have fractured with Nasheed contesting and winning the highly disputed presidential primary held by his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Nasheed had also pressed ahead with his campaign despite the country's electoral watchdog refusing to accept his candidacy.

Hours after Nasheed's withdrawal, the four leaders in a joint statement said the opposition have now reached an agreement to join forces against incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

According to the long awaited agreement, the presidential candidate would be from MDP while the running mate would be nominated by Gasim's Jumhoory Party (JP).

Dr Hussain Rasheed who is in Alif Alif Atoll Ukulhas island to represent JP at the ongoing MDP's extraordinary congress told AVAS that allowing MDP to lead a coalition government should not be seen as a JP defeat.

JP has settled for a running mate spot as the party wishes to work with the rest of the opposition parties in the interest of the country and its people.

"We want to play a key role in a government that works for the interest of the country and its people. Our political ambition wasn't to have the whole cake. We always talked of having a considerable slice and have a say in the new coalition government," he explained.

He also said the party would nominate a candidate for the running mate slot "very soon."

MDP's presidential ticket is now expected to be given to its parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Hussain Rasheed had praised Solih as an experienced and capable politician who would be ideal to lead the country