JP to take secret vote to pick running mate on Sat

Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) would pick an opposition alliance running mate for the upcoming presidential elections through a secret vote which would be announced on Saturday, the party said.

JP had been struggling to nominate a running mate which has sparked rumours of a rift within the party with several top party officials reportedly vying for the nomination.

JP's deputy leader Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan said interested members have been given a five day window as per the party's charter to seek the nomination.

After the window ends, the party's council would sit-down on Saturday and take a secret vote on the interested candidates, Rasheed explained.

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

MDP last week 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.

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.

JP leader Gasim'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.

But the increasing internal divisions has prompted the party to relinquish the decision to the four opposition leaders which according to opposition sources would be made later Sunday.

However, shortly after, JP appeared to reverse its decision and open the running mate post for interested party members.

Kendhoo lawmaker Ali Hussain has emerged as the front-runner followed by Gasim's wife. However, coalition partner Adhaalath Party had said it would be extremely difficult for them to accept a woman as the opposition running mate.