Adhaalath Party won't accept a female running mate

It would be "extremely difficult" to accept a woman as the opposition coalition running mate for the upcoming presidential elections, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) insisted Friday.

Speaking to reporters after a sit-down with new opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in a bid to settle a dispute over the opposition manifesto, AP vice president Ali Zahir said prominent religious scholars have advised against a woman as the second in command of an Islamic country.

Under the opposition parties' alliance agreement, Jumhoory Party (JP) would nominate the running mate to stand for the upcoming presidential elections alongside main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) nominated presidential candidate Solih.

JP leader Gasim Ibrahim's wife, two party lawmakers along with four of their deputy leaders have reportedly expressed interest while some have had social media campaigns promoting their respective nomination.

Zahir's comments were directly in connection to the increasing rumours that Gasim could nominate his wife as the opposition running mate. Adhaalath Party however, insisted that it would not underline the criteria for a running mate until JP makes the nomination.

"It will be extremely difficult for us to accept a woman as our running mate. But whatever decision we make will be made by our advisory council. Because the council had advised us to give our green light to a running mate that we can accept. It was the same for the presidential candidate," Zahir explained.

Solih also echoed similar sentiments but said his party had not made a decision on accepting a woman as the running mate.

"We will know once the nomination comes," the veteran lawmaker added.

Solih said the running mate nomination would have to mutually agreed by all the parties in the opposition alliance.

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.

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