MDP won't allow manifesto row to cause coalition split

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) would not allow an apparent dispute over its manifesto for the upcoming presidential elections to affect the opposition alliance, new opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih vowed Friday.

The opposition coalition hit its first snag after Jumhoory Party (JP) appeared to disagree on the manifesto announced by MDP ahead of the crunch elections.

Business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim who recently renounced his position as the party's leader had announced the coalition's election pledges to the people late Wednesday. Some of the 11 pledges made by Gasim differed to some key points included in the MDP manifesto.

However, Solih who was selected as the MDP presidential candidate last week after the shock withdrawal of self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed insisted that the manifesto would be revised to include the views of all the opposition parties in the coalition.

The veteran lawmaker had met with religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) officials to discuss and hear their concerns over the opposition manifesto on Friday.

Speaking to local reporters after the sit-down, Solih said admitted that all parties would have different views and opinions which he said would be accommodated.

"But we will do our best to maintain MDP's fundamental principles. We don't believe we have to compromise on that," Solih said.

The MDP manifesto which has been divided into five main parts which includes 'island Maldives', 'blue economy', 'proud family', 'caring government' and 'justice'.

Some of the key pledges the two main parties seem to disagree on include allowing foreign judges and change the governance system from presidential to parliamentary out of which MDP had included in its manifesto while the latter was hinted at by Nasheed recently.

Solih however, insisted that there were no major disputes over the direction and objectives of the parties which cannot be ironed out before the elections.

MDP on Saturday selected the party's chief government lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to lead the opposition alliance in the September elections.

MDP during its extraordinary congress 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.

According to the long awaited opposition agreement, the presidential candidate would be from MDP while the running mate would be nominated by Gasim's party.

JP meanwhile is set to announce its nomination for the coalition running mate on Tuesday.