Maldives govt congratulates opposition running mate to again call for talks

Maldives government on Saturday congratulated the opposition alliance running mate Faisal Naseem to again call for the opposition to sit-down for dialogue.

Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) late Friday picked Kaashidhoo lawmaker Faisal Naseem as the opposition alliance running mate.

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

Two senior party lawmakers and two of its deputy leaders had officially sought the nomination which was put to a secret vote at the 41 member JP council sit-down on Friday.

It was tightly run race between the two lawmakers MP Ali Hussain and MP Faisal Naseem as the latter edged the elections by a single vote. Kendhoo lawmaker Ali Hussain received 14 votes while the Kaashidhoo MP Faisal Naseem shaded the elections with 15 in favour.

Following the elections, chief government representative for the all party talks Dr Mohamed Shainee congratulated Faisal Naseem and urged the opposition to sit-down with the government to address concerns over the elections and to ensure that free and fair elections could be held in September.

"... 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.

The opposition however, rejected the "insincere." invitation.

Faisal had flown to Addu this morning to join up with Solih who has been campaigning in Addu since early Friday.

Faisal has also taken part in the door to door campaign with the presidential candidate and the duo is now expected to travel to Fuvahmulah city later Saturday.