Gayoom opts out of presidential running

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 26, 2013 14:50 hrs

Colombo, Feb 26 (IANS) Former longtime ruler of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said Tuesday he will not contest the upcoming presidential elections, ending months of speculation.

The 75-year-old releasing a statement expressing the belief that the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has people capable of leading it in the presidential election, Xinhua reported.

He pledged his support for the candidate who wins the party's presidential primary.

He vowed to work to strengthen the party and thanked everyone who had requested him to contest in the primary, according to local media reports.

The deadline for interested candidates will expire Thursday.

However, PPM's parliamentary group leader and Gayoom's brother Abdulla Yamin and Umar Nazeer, deputy leader of the opposition Dhivehi Raithunge Party, have announced their intention to run for president in September.

Gayoom ruled the Maldives for 30 years before he was ousted by the country's first democratic elections in 2008.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed was forced out of power early last year leading to a contentious standoff between prominent political factions in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

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