Maldives' opposition candidate officially enters pres race

Maldives' opposition alliance candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Thursday filed his candidacy to become the first candidate to officially enter the presidential race in September.

The veteran lawmaker flanked by his running mate - opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) lawmaker Faisal Naseem went to the Elections Commission on foot accompanied by dozen of opposition supporters and senior officials.

Police briefly blocked off the procession before allowing them to proceed to the commission building.

The commission by law would now need to decide whether Solih would be eligible to contest the elections within 24 hours.

Elections Commission had said the deadline to file candidacy for the crunch elections on September 23 would remain open until August 4 before extending to August 10.

Solih incumbent president Abdulla Yameen announced contesting for a second term while former home minister Umar Naseer had publicly announced his intention to contest as an independent candidate.

MDP had 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.

Hours after Nasheed's withdrawal, the four leaders in a joint statement said the opposition have now reached an agreement to join forces against incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Gasim's Jumhoory Party (JP) along with Imran's religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) have already come out in support of Solih as the opposition alliance candidate for the elections.

According to the long awaited opposition agreement, the presidential candidate would be Solih while the running mate would be nominated by JP which was later given to Kaashidhoo lawmaker Faisal Naseem.