The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s National Council has unanimously decided to boycott presidential elections if a court ruling bars former President Mohamed Nasheed from competing.
Nasheed was elected the party’s presidential candidate following the results of internal elections held last month.
Despite being the party’s sole candidate, following the final count of the 258 ballot boxes Nasheed recorded 31,798 votes in favour to 269 against his being the party’s presidential candidate, after more than two-thirds of the party’s membership turned out to vote.
The MDP’s current membership stands at 48,181 according the Election Commission (EC)’s figures, giving it the largest membership of any party in the country.
However, earlier this week the Prosecutor General forwarded a case against the former President to the Hulhumale magistrate court, concerning his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his final days in office. Nasheed’s government had accused the judge of “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist”.
If sentenced, Nasheed would potentially be barred from competing in a presidential election. The matter appears temporarily stalled after the Hulhumale Court yesterday rejected the case as falling outside its jurisdiction, returning it the Prosecutor General.
“This is our candidate, and if they are going to stop him from seeking election, then we are not going to play by their rules,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
“We have experienced 30 years under [former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom]. His trials have always been politically motivated, and this is a politically motivated trial”, he aded.
“The MDP votes that elected Nasheed [as its presidential candidate] represent twice the registration of the entire Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), and more than 4000 votes than the total membership of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP),” Ghafoor noted.
“Gayoom is on the back foot. The moment Gayoom said he would not attend talks to negotiate, he isolated himself. His rhetoric and utterances about leaving the Commonwealth are not understood by the democratic international community – we see this man going against the majority. We will not stop seeking early elections, and will continue direct action.”
President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said he felt the issue was an “internal matter for the MDP. It is not for the government to comment.”
“I don’t think affect it will affect the legitimacy of the elections,” he said. “Without a congress the decisions of the MDP National Council do not reflect the will of the party’s members.”