Maldives opens pres polls for candidates

Maldives' electoral watchdog on Monday officially opened the upcoming presidential elections for interested candidates.

Elections Commission in an announcement said the deadline to file candidacy for the crunch elections on September 23 would remain open until August 4.

Criteria for presidential hopefuls

  • (a) be a Maldivian citizen born to parents who are Maldivian citizens, and who is not also a citizen of a foreign country
  • (b) be a Muslim and a follower of a Sunni school of Islam;
  • (c) be at least thirty-five years of age;
  • (d) be of sound mind;
  • (e) not have an undischarged decreed debt;
  • (f) not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or pardon for the offence for which he was sentenced; and
  • (g) despite the provisions of article (f), not have been convicted of an offence for which a hadd is prescribed in Islam or of fraud, deception or criminal breach of trust.

Running mates must also meet the same criteria as the president, the commission said.

In addition, recent amendments brought to the electoral framework added another criteria which states that a Maldivian citizen with dual citizenship or has been granted asylum in a foreign country would only be eligible to contest for the presidency if 10 years have lapsed since the foreign citizenship or asylum had been renounced.

The amendment was largely designed to bar several political leaders currently in exile from contesting for the presidency.

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is seeking re-election amid unprecedented political strife in the archipelago.

Former home minister Umar Naseer has also announced his intention to stand for the elections and already launched his campaign as an independent candidate.

The main opposition leaders including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla inked pact to form what they called a 'reform alliance'.

With the candidacy of the four leaders - all convicted and serving sentences on questionable charges in serious doubt, the united opposition had announced plans to nominate a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

However, the coalition appeared to have ended with Nasheed contesting and winning the highly disputed presidential primary held by his party before his shock decision to forfeit his ticket.

Veteran Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has since been named as Nasheed's replacement.

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 this Saturday.