'New opposition candidate will bring stability,' says Maldives pres

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Monday congratulated the new opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih adding that main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's (MDP) decision would bring much needed political stability to the crisis-hit Maldives.

MDP during its extraordinary congress the on Saturday amended its charter to award the party ticket to the veteran lawmaker Solih after self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed pulled out of the September elections who's candidacy had been rejected by the country's electoral watchdog citing his terrorism conviction.

Speaking during the ceremony held to mark the end of a shore protection project in Shaviyani Atoll Bilehfahi island on Monday, president Yameen said he was "extremely glad" that the opposition has finally managed to agree on a candidate for the elections.

"This stability for MDP means huge strides towards a stable and peaceful Maldives. So I congratulate Ibu [Solih]. And now I would like to urge MDP to peacefully campaign for the elections," Yameen said.

President Yameen's comments came after he had sent a letter congratulating Solih for being selected as the opposition candidate for the crunch elections.

The exact contents of the letter remains unclear, but the government spokesperson had confirmed that the president had sent a congratulatory letter to the new opposition candidate.

The government had also officially congratulated the new opposition candidate and renewed the invitation for all party talks.

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.