Pres Solih says PPM should pick a candidate and begin campaign soon

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih speaks to press during a campaign visit to HDh. Hanimaadhoo on August 2, 2023. (Photo/MDP)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said on Wednesday that the main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – which he has repeatedly said is his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s only real competition – should pick a presidential candidate and begin their campaign soon.

President Solih made the remark while speaking to press during a campaign visit to HDh. Hanimaadhoo on Wednesday.

The president said that all parties must be represented in the upcoming presidential election in order to promote fairness.

But he said that PPM does not pose a challenge to his chances of getting re-elected for a second term.

“I ask that PPM select a candidate and begin their campaign without delay,” he said.

President Solih said that he has seen nothing put “green signals” during his tour of the atolls.

“I don’t see any other party running a campaign of this scale. What the people want most during an election is for candidates to come to them and fulfill their desires,” he said.

President Solih said he will submit his candidacy either Thursday or Friday.

But he has yet to select a running mate.

“I have not yet decided on a running mate. It may be someone new… There’s also a chance its [current vice president] Faisal [Naseem],” he said.

The president said he will make his decision after talks with MDP’s coalition partners Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and Adhaalath Party (AP).

President Solih’s comments regarding PPM comes a day after the Elections Commission (EC) rejected the candidacy of the party’s leader, former Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison for money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.

The EC rejected Yameen’s candidacy due to his conviction, citing Article 109 (f) of the Constitution, which disqualifies candidates who have been sentenced to over 12 months in prison for a crime.

Yameen has contested the EC’s decision with the Supreme Court, and has asked the People’s National Congress (PNC) – PPM’s coalition partner - to produce its own presidential candidate as a “backup.”