While many view Dr Mohamed Muizzu, the Malé City Mayor and presidential hopeful, as the main opposition candidate against incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in this year’s election, Minister for Economic Development and Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) Chairman, Fayyaz Ismail, has painted Muizzu as the “candidate of extremist groups.” Muizzu is the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)-endorsed People’s National Congress (PNC) presidential candidate.

Speaking at an MDP rally in Malé on Friday night, Fayyaz also accused the Malé Mayor of having links to criminal networks.

“He is linked to the extremist groups that have emerged in this country, not to mention the criminal networks in this country,” Fayyaz alleged. “This should be talked about, and such a candidate should not be given the chance [to lead the country].”

Fayyaz’s accusations come at a time when Solih’s Minister for Islamic Affairs, and leader of the religious Adhaalath Party (AP), Imran Abdulla had cast doubt on loyalties within the PPM/PNC leadership camp by insinuating that Muizzu was not loyal to Yameen and would not work to free the former president from prison upon coming to power. Muizzu is not loyal to anyone and has always been greedy for positions, Imran said.