A pro-government news website said on Sunday Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Waheed would contest the presidential elections later this year but his spokesperson insisted that the President had made no such commitment.

Dr. Waheed had earlier told The Hindu that he was considering running, but this depended on a host of factors. He hopes to emerge as a consensus candidate for the front that opposes the former President, Mohamed Nasheed. Mr. Nasheed’s party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has a membership of about a sixth of the population.

A senior functionary of Dr. Waheed’s party Qaumee Ihthihad Party (QIP) was quoted by Haveeru Online as saying he had decided to compete in the elections and that the QIP was making arrangements to inaugurate a party camp in Male to launch its campaign.

“QIP deputy President Mohamed ‘Nazaki’ Zaki on Sunday said the President had announced his decision in a recent meeting with his supporters. However he is yet to decide whether he would compete in the election as an individual candidate or by forming a coalition with another party,” said Haveeru.

But presidential spokesperson Masood Imad said many speakers at the party meeting had stressed that Dr. Waheed should contest. “A certain amount of ground work is being done [ahead of Dr. Waheed announcing his candidature]. It is not easy. He has to consider the situation,” said Mr. Imad over the phone, from Male, when asked if he has decided to contest. Dr.Waheed was talking to stakeholders to firm up his plans, Mr. Imad added.

As elections near, Mr. Imad said there were many who sought to malign the President and the Maldivian government. Discounting reports of rupture of relations with India, he said there was “no pressure from anyone” on the President, and relations with India were “normal”. This year, no meeting was sought with Indian External Affairs Minister or the Prime Minister, he said and added that the Foreign Minister had not visited New Delhi this year.

Meanwhile, one of the strident voices against India in the Maldives, Defence and Acting Transport Minister Mohamed Nazim said the HDH Hanimaadhoo airport would begin its international operations from February 2. “Arrangements will soon be made to issue Indian visa in Hanimaadhoo for travel to India from Hanimaadhoo,” he announced on twitter, signifying that relations were normal. Mr. Nazim had visited China soon after Maldives threw out its Male Airport operator, GMR.

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