Male: Maldives` former long-time ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Monday decided not to contest the upcoming Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential primary, ending months of speculation whether he would be in the race for the country`s presidential election in September.
In a statement explaining his decision, 75-year-old Gayoom expressed belief that PPM has people capable of leading the party to the presidential election. He also pledged his support for the candidate who wins the party`s presidential primary.
He also assured that he would work to strengthen the party and thanked everyone who had requested him to contest in the primary, Haveeru daily reported.
PPM`s elections committee member Mohamed Tholal said no candidate has expressed interest in contesting the primary thus far. The deadline for interested candidates will expire on Thursday.
However, PPM`s Parliamentary group leader and Gayoom`s brother Abdulla Yamin along with Umar Naseer have publicly announced intentions to contest in the primary and have already kick started their respective campaigns.
Gayoom ruled Maldives for 30 years as President before he was voted out in the country`s first democratic elections in 2008.
Mohamed Nasheed became the President after the elections but was forced to resign last year due to series of protests by the locals and sections of the police and the military.