Maldives' Nasheed To Be Presidential Candidate

Former Maldivian leader Mohamed Nasheed, who claims he was ousted in a military coup earlier this year, secured his party's nomination Sunday to be its presidential candidate, the party said.

Maldives' Nasheed To Be Presidential Candidate

Former Maldivian leader Mohamed Nasheed, who claims he was ousted in a military coup earlier this year, secured his party's nomination Sunday to be its presidential candidate, the party said.

Nasheed stood unopposed in Saturday's vote but Maldivian Democratic Party rules required him to get the endorsement of at least 10 percent of the 48,000-strong membership.

The former Maldivian leader had gained more than 22,000 votes with half of them counted on Sunday, organiser Ibrahim Waheed told reporters.

"With the ballots counted so far, Nasheed received 22,375 votes endorsing him while 210 rejected him," Waheed said, adding that the former president had clearly won the party's nomination for the next presidential vote.

The 45-year-old Nasheed insists he was forced to resign after 300 soldiers backed by Islamic radicals and local businessmen staged a mutiny that capped three weeks of anti-government protests in February.

The European Union as well as the United States and neighbouring India have called for early elections to end the political turmoil in the Indian Ocean archipelago which is best known for its tourism.

However, the new administration of President Mohamed Waheed has ruled out snap polls and said the earliest elections could be held under their constitution was by July next year.

Nasheed became the first democratically elected leader in the Maldives following multi-party elections in October 2008.

President Waheed told parliament earlier in March that riots following Nasheed's "resignation" cost the atoll nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims an estimated 180 million rufiyaa ($11.8 million).

The 54-member Commonwealth has voiced "disappointment and deep concern" over the failure of Maldivian parties to reach a political settlement that would pave the way for polls this year.