Former Home Minister Umar Naseer who contested this year’s presidential election independently has condemned his running mate, Ahmed Saleem (Maaz)’s remarks on Thursday, which suggests there are no Indian soldiers present on Maldivian soil.
Maaz Saleem decided to back main ruling MDP’s candidate President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and announced his endorsement of the incumbent president at an MDP campaign rally in Hulhumale’ on Thursday evening.
Saleem told Sun that the biggest reason for his decision was because he stands against tyranny.
He said that he was also concerned over the influence of criminal gangs in administrations – which he said he found deeply concerning.
Commenting on Maaz Saleem’s endorsement of President Solih – Umar said it was extremely surprising to see Maaz Saleem in front of a MDP podium.
My team is surprised to see and hear this from our colleague. pic.twitter.com/DBJQP5QPr1— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerMV) September 28, 2023
“I was especially surprised because he talked in a manner which suggests there are no Indian soldiers in the Maldives,” Umar added.
The former minister said Maaz Saleem, alongside him, had participated in protests calling for the removal of Indian soldiers in the Maldives.
He described the presence of Indian soldiers in Maldives as the “reality”. Noting efforts to remove Indian soldiers in the Maldives as initiatives he started, Umar stressed he would stay true to this goal.
“I do not have to take responsibility for someone on my side switching sides, to support another. That person, himself, has to take responsibility for it,” he further said.
However, Umar offered an apology to the public for how things unfolded. Nevertheless, he reiterated he remains firm on his resolve, and pledged to continue efforts to remove Indian soldiers from the Maldives.
Umar, who contested in the first round of the presidential election held on September 9th, won 6,348 votes, amounting to approximately three percent of the total votes. He had decided against backing either candidate for the runoff.