Exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed has called for the united opposition to seek the election of an interim leader in the 2018 presidential election.
The task of the interim president should be transitional matters, “especially reforming the judiciary and reforming the government,” the opposition leader said in a message to members of the Maldivian Democratic Party.
The interim government should also establish an atmosphere conducive to holding a free and fair election, he added.
None of the parties in the opposition coalition has “a scientific guarantee” of winning next year’s election, he said. “Not just the MDP, neither the Jumhooree Party, the Adhaalath Party, nor President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] would see a clear picture where they can win this election,” he said.
“In my view, the united parties fielding a single candidate is the best way for those working within [the MDP] in the hope of winning the presidency as well as for the party and for the Maldives,” he said.
The MDP has previously proposed changing from a presidential to a parliamentary system as the electorate proved unwilling to grant a popular mandate to a single candidate in the 2008 and 2013 elections. Both the MDP and the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives won power with the backing of broad coalitions that disintegrated within months.
Coalition agreements have no legal weight under the Maldivian constitution, which was designed for a US-style presidential system.
Ministers and ruling party lawmakers meanwhile promptly responded to Nasheed on social media. “Maldivians don’t want an interim government. The people want to go forward with development, ensure 2018 for [President Yameen],” said MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the PPM’s deputy leader.
Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan and Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee said Nasheed was pushing for an interim arrangement because he accepts that he cannot contest in next year’s polls.
Accepting tht he can’t contest or win election, trying to convince for an intermediary gvmnt to set him the stage. https://t.co/Zjz85VLiHh
— Mohamed Shainee (@mshainee) October 21, 2017
Nasheed is presently ineligible to contest in 2018 as he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on a controversial terrorism charge in early 2015. The 50-year-old was granted asylum in the UK in May last year after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amidst mounting foreign pressure.
His jailing after a rushed trial marred by apparent due process violations was ruled illegal and politically motivated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. But the government rejected the “non-binding opinion” and the Supreme Court went on to uphold Nasheed’s conviction over the military’s detention of a top judge.
Nasheed regularly travels to Sri Lanka to meet with MDP leaders and coalition partners.
Yameen’s other opponent in the 2013 race, JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, is also barred from contesting after he was sentenced in absentia last August to more than three years in prison. The business tycoon’s endorsement of Nasheed and Yameen, respectively in 2008 and 2013, was pivotal in securing their victories after winning less than 30 percent of the vote.
Other high-profile politicians and state officials jailed after the current administration came to power include former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former MP Ahmed Nazim, former Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin, and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.