Maldives govt congratulates new opposition candidate, renews party talks invite

Maldives government late Sunday congratulated the new opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih after self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed forfeited his presidential ticket for the upcoming presidential elections.

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.

A statement by the chief government representative Dr Mohamed Shainee of the all party talks welcomed the decision by MDP at their Extraordinary Congress, to field their candidate for the crunch elections.

"The Government believes that nominating an eligible candidate is a move forward in the path of democracy and towards holding free, fair, transparent and successful elections," the statement said.

Shainee in his statement had also said the positive development has paved the way for for dialogue to reconcile political differences.

"... I wish to renew the invitation of the Government for All-Party Talks once again, specifically with a view to facilitating the solution of any issues of concern and to pave a way forward for the elections," Shainee who is also the fisheries minister said.

Shainee had also urged MDP to lift its boycott on the electoral watchdog's National Advisory Committee to ensure a smooth electoral process.

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.