Former president Mohamed Nasheed has said that the Maldives should elect an interim president in the upcoming presidential elections slated for 2018.
Speaking to main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s national council on Saturday, the former president said that he does not believe that a free and fair election could be held, given the current political situation in the Maldives.
Therefore, he suggested that the recently formed joint coalition should nominate a candidate who will safeguard democratic values, restore the functionality of independent institutions and ensure that a fair election is held.
“The interim candidate should focus on fixing what can be fixed during the interim period – especially reforming the judiciary and executive matters,” Nasheed, who is currently in self-exile, said.
Nasheed told MDP’s national council that the interim candidate should be selected after narrowing down potential candidates from the joint opposition coalition.
According to him, the reason for this is because there is no “scientific guarantee” that any one candidate or opposition party could secure the majority in the presidential election.
“I don’t think anyone can see themselves single-handedly winning the election – I know I don’t,” Nasheed said.
He said that electing an interim president would be the “best thing for our nation” at the moment, and that MDP’s national congress would fully support the candidate. Nasheed had also highlighted the importance of having a manifesto and a plan for necessary amendments to be made.
Whilst Nasheed called the opposition to nominate an interim candidate for the upcoming presidential election, several opposition leaders have had sentences levied on them by the current government which will disqualify them from competing in the election.
Nasheed was sentenced to thirteen years of imprisonment under terrorism charges for the arbitrary arrest and detention of High Court’s former Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed during his presidency. Nasheed has since fled to the United Kingdom where he has been living under political asylum for over a year. He is now facing an additional terrorism charge over the arbitrary arrest of incumbent president Abdulla Yameen, also during his presidency.
Meanwhile, president Yameen’s coalition partners during his election, Jumhoory Party and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, have also withdrawn from the ruling coalition and joined the opposition. Since then, Jumhoory Party’s leader and 2013’s presidential candidate Qasim Ibrahim has been convicted of bribery and given a three year jail sentence, whilst Adhaalath Party’s leader Sheikh Imran Abdullah was slapped with a twelve year sentence, also on terrorism charges.
Maldivian law states that no one convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months in prison – unless a period of three years has passed since the release or pardon – can compete in a presidential election.
During Yameen’s presidency, the laws on qualification for the president were also changed so that no one above the age of 65 can compete in a presidential election. The opposition had claimed that the move was made to deliberately bar his half-brother and current political opponent, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, and Qasim Ibrahim from competing in the election.
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