Veteran administrator and politician Mustafa Lutfi is running mate of Mohamed Nasheed

The largest political party in Maldives, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), chose veteran administrator and politician Mustafa Lutfi as running mate to its presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed, signalling a period of vigorous campaigning ahead of the September 7 elections.

Dr. Lutfi, Tourism Minister in Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s last Cabinet from 2004, was also Minister for Education after Mr. Nasheed was elected President in the first multi-party elections in 2008. An academic who gave direction to Maldivian National University during a period of political stress (2008-2012), Mr. Lutfi was also the brain behind a master plan for the development of higher education in Maldives.

The two other major contenders, the Progressive Party of the Maldives, and President Mohamed Waheed’s rainbow coalition of parties, have already announced their candidates and have been in full campaign mode.

PPM, founded by Mr. Gayoom, had named Maldivian Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as running mate to presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen. Mr. Jameel, deputy leader of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party, accepted the offer. Soon after this, he was dismissed from the Cabinet by Mr. Waheed citing “conflict of interest”

Dr. Waheed had declared himself candidate, and has managed to get the support of some smaller parties. His main support is from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the second largest party in the Maldives when it was formed in 2005. DRP’s decline began after its founder Mr. Gayoom, came back to Maldives, after a brief period abroad during Mr. Nasheed’s presidency. Mr. Gayoom, who had expected his confidant Ahmed Tasmeen Ali to handover the reigns to him, was forced to float another party when this did not happen. In return for DRP’s support, Dr. Waheed has named Mr. Tasmeen his running mate.

There are at least two other influential persons in the fray, Jumhoree Party’s boss and businessman Gasim Ibrahim, and Dr. Mohamed Saud, who has been both with Mr. Gayoom and Mr. Nasheed.

While these two leaders are not serious contenders for the post, they are likely to cut into vote banks and short-circuit calculations of the bigger parties.

The article has been updated to correct an editorial error.

>>A sentence in “Campaign hots up in Maldives” (July 17, 2013, International) read: “An academic who gave direction to MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] during a period of political stress (2008-2012), Mr. Lutfi … in Maldives.” Actually, Mr. Lufti gave direction to Maldivian National University.