'New opposition candidate nothing more than Nasheed's puppet'

The newly selected main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih would be nothing more than self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed's "puppet," deputy ruling party leader said Sunday.

MDP during its extraordinary congress the day before amended its charter to award the party ticket to the veteran lawmaker Solih after Nasheed pulled out of the September elections after the country's electoral watchdog rejected his candidacy citing his terrorism conviction.

Deputy Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla told local reporters on Sunday that Solih's only role would be to free Nasheed and hold early elections.

"They [MDP] has already admitted that it would be an interim government of just 18 months. That's not how the Maldivian people want to elect their government. That also shows that Solih doesn't have Nasheed's trust. So the only task assigned to Solih is to free Nasheed and hold early elections so that he can come to power," the Fonadhoo lawmaker alleged referring to the MDP manifesto which had revealed plans for an interim government followed by early elections.

The outspoken lawmaker also reminded the people that despite the change in name, the party was still MDP which had failed the people when it was given the opportunity in 2008.

Raheem also questioned the capability of the new opposition presidential candidate to lead blaming the chief opposition lawmaker for the ongoing boycott of parliament sittings by the opposition MPs.

Nasheed's refusal to back-down earlier had threatened to destroy the once unimaginable alliance he had formed with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the other two opposition party leaders - Gasim Ibrahim and Sheikh Imran Abdulla.

But Nasheed's sudden withdrawal, has now united the once divided opposition and have finally agreed on nominating a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

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.

Gasim's Jumhoory Party (JP) along with Imran's religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) have already come out in support of Solih as the opposition alliance candidate for the elections.

According to the long awaited opposition agreement, the presidential candidate would be Solih while the running mate would be nominated by JP which it said would be announced soon.