MDP seeks candidate to contest Dhiggaru by-election

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is seeking a candidate to contest an upcoming by-election for the vacant Dhiggaru constituency parliament seat.

The opposition alliance, made up of the MDP, the Adhaalath Party (AP), and senior leaders of the Jumhooree Party, had previously said discussions were ongoing on fielding a single candidate.

“At the discussions, opposition parties agreed to bring forward one candidate. We also agreed that the candidate will come from the MDP,” said MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz.

The MDP announced yesterday that a primary will take place next Monday to select the party’s candidate and invited members to apply by Sunday.

The by-election, triggered by a 25-year jail sentence handed down to former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, is scheduled to take place on June 6.

Contestants must file candidacy papers at the Elections Commission before the end of April.

AP spokesperson Ali Zahir had previously expressed interest in contesting for the Dhiggaru seat.

However, AP secretary general Iaad Hameed told Minivan News today that the religious conservative party has not decided yet on fielding a candidate.

“We have also agreed on bringing one candidate from the opposition,” he said.

He stressed that Zahir had only expressed interest in contesting. Zahir is currently overseas and was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, a primary of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is due to take place tomorrow between former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s eldest son, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, and Meemu atoll council president Moosa Naseer.

Three other candidates who initially sought the ruling party’s ticket withdrew their candidacies this week, including Meemu atoll councillor Moosa Naseer Ahmed and deputy environment minister Mohamed Hanim.

Polling is due to take place from 2:00pm to 5:00pm on Friday in four of the five islands that make up the Dhiggaru parliamentary constituency.

The five islands in the constituency are Dhiggaru, Madduvari, Veyvah, Muli and Raimmandhoo. Arrangements have been made for party members from Raimmandhoo to vote in other islands.

The by-election is expected to be hotly contested amid heightened political tension following the jailing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as the alleged unfair targeting of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests.