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#Maldives: ex-President Nasheed's Party divided on issue of his candidacy for presidency

Male', Maldives.
ex-President Mohamed Nasheed's party, Maldives Democratic Party, is internally divided on the issue of Nasheed's proposed candidacy for presidential elections. Last night, Nasheed announced he would contest on the party's ticket in an election in two months. He assured his party that Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid would hold presidential elections in the next two month. Eyewitnesses report that, immediately after the meeting, there was a heated argument between top MDP officials, the subject being the validity of Nasheed's candidacy on the party ticket in a presidential elections.

Some members of the top leadership have presidential aspirations themselves, so they want a primary first, the sources said. The MDP Party by-laws state that the party will elect its presidential candidate through a primary, and some MPs are insisting that this be followed, said one source. Others say that Nasheed has failed the party and should not be given the chance to contest again, the source said.

However, Nasheed and his closest people are against this. They say that Nasheed was elected by MDP for a 5 year term, and that till the 5 year term is finished, Nasheed should be the party candidate, another source said, asking not to be named.

Rumour is rife amongst MDP youth that Vice President Alhan Fahmy has stated his intentions to contest Nasheed in a presidential primary. Feydhoo MP Alhan Fahmy hails from Addu Atoll, which has a strong history of voting for its own people. Alhan Fahmy won his post as Vice President in a runoff against Nasheed's nominee, his then Transport Minister Mohamed Aslam.

Nasheed was nominated as the MDP candidate in 2008 after a primary, in which he contested against Dr. Muhammad Munawwar and Moosa Maniku (Reeko). However, immediately after the elections, Dr. Munawwar and his supporters alleged that the election had been rigged, and votes altered during counting. Dr. Munawwar led large numbers of MDP out of the party on the issue, and formed his own party, the Maldives Reform Movement.

Although presenting a united front at the meeting, the MDP top leadership has shown rifts on other issues relating to Nasheed's resignation on Tuesday as well. Party President Dr. Didi told media on Tuesday February 7th, that he believed that Nasheed had been removed by the people due to his constitutional violations. "We have to accept the people's decision", he told press. Dr. Didi said that the party council would consider the next steps.

Dr. Didi's statements were supported by MDP MP (Colonel) Nasheed in a separate interview to media. Both Dr. Didi and MP (Colonel) Nasheed said that corrupt senior officials of the Party had forced Nasheed to act as he did.

However, Dr. Didi told media the next day that his statements had been misinterpreted and that he believed that Nasheed was still the legitimate President of the country.

Other party officials have reportedly told local media that they too believe that violation of law and order, nepotism and corruption to have been the primary reasons for the civic opposition to Nasheed and his downfall. Unconfirmed media reports say that as many as five MPs from MDP may cross over to other political parties, prior to the opening of Parliament in March.

MDP militants on Wednesday set fire to several police stations and court houses in various strongholds of the party. This degree of violence and arson in one protest is in stark contrast to weeks of peaceful protest by other political parties against Nasheed when he was president.

President Waheed has reaffirmed his commitment to uphold the constitution and law and order in the country. He has announced that he will lead a national unity government up to the 2013 elections, and invited all parties to take part in his unity government.

MDP's response to this invitation was Nasheed's allegation that President Waheed had instigated a military coup to depose him and that he himself, not Dr. Waheed, was the legitimate president of the Maldives. Last evening this demand changed to a call for Speaker of Parliament to take over the government and hold an election within 2 months.

It is not known whether MDP has given a formal response to President Waheed's invitation to join him in a unity government.

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