For years opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has insisted that its de-facto leader, former President Mohamed Nasheed will be its candidate for the 2018 presidential elections. So much work has been put in to ensure this, including work both domestically and internationally.
Furthermore, a party primary was held on May 30 and was won by the former president, the only person to have run. However, he did not merely win the ticket. He did so with over 46,000 votes, despite the government attempts to halt the elections. MDP has a total of 52,806 members.
Now, with the elections looming on us- September 23 is the big day- Nasheed has decided to withdraw from the race. While the former president was sentenced to 13 years in prison on March 2015, authorities have informed that he will not be allowed to run for this very reason. He was found guilty on terror charges after a trial deemed as "arbitrary" and "solely motivated to suppress his critical voice" by both the local and international community.
It did not take long for supporters of incumbent President Abdulla Yameen and the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to begin their gloating, with people like its parliamentary group leader pointing out that "we repeatedly told them Nasheed's name will not be on the ballot paper".
The party's vice president accused Nasheed of "lying yet again", saying that he in not withdrawing from the race, but that he is "not eligible to contest".
Some MDP members seem to already be mourning the former president, with people such as Galohu-North constituency MP Eva Abdulla saying that her wish is that the country does justice to this "great man".
So, has the island president finally accepted defeat to incumbent President Abdulla Yameen and authoritarian rule? Or, as always, is Nasheed being the bigger person?
He became the country's fourth president, the first to have been elected democratically, in November 2008 after defeating the man that ruled for 30 years i.e. Asia's longest-serving dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Nasheed's first and last decision as leader showed his character and love for the people.
- One of his first decisions: Despite popular belief, Nasheed chose not to take any action against his predecessor and made sure that he was given all the privileges and benefits guaranteed to him.
- Last decision: former President Nasheed's decision to resign in 2012 was solely to avoid bloodshed. According to Nasheed, had he not resigned that day "there would have been violence and bloodshed", something he did not want at any cost.
When authorities started looking for him in early 2015- he was abroad at that time and confirmed reports said that he would be arrested if he returned to the country- Nasheed did not "flee". He returned to Malé and showed the entire the world how the Maldives' judiciary has been hijacked and somehow seemed to gain even more popularity, both at home and abroad.
After looking into his character, it is easy to understand his decision to withdraw from the presidential race.
So, while some people may call it "accepting defeat", his reason for doing so is to ensure that Maldivians will finally have victory over tyranny.
This does not, in anyway, diminish the support and love he has from the people. And there is no question that how loved he really is, even if we look at the past two presidential elections the country has seen. He won the 2008 presidential election with 54.52 percent of the votes and got 96,764 votes in the first round of the 2013 presidential elections, without any coalitions.
Let's also not forget, he was front and center at President Yameen's swearing in ceremony, with then nemesis Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
As Abraham Lincoln said, "character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing".