Maldives SC bars Yameen from contesting September presidential polls 

Convicted for corruption and money laundering, the leader faces a 11 year-jail term

Published - August 06, 2023 07:12 pm IST - COLOMBO

Abdulla Yameen

Abdulla Yameen | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Maldives Supreme Court on Sunday barred the jailed former President Abdulla Yameen from contesting the island nation’s presidential election in September, citing his conviction by a criminal court.

Also read: Abdulla Yameen | An anti-India hardliner 

Last December, Mr. Yameen, who leads the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), was sentenced to a 11-year jail sentence after he was pronounced guilty of corruption and money-laundering charges. However, his party had nominated him as its candidate for the island nation’s presidential race scheduled on September 9, in which incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is seeking a second term.

Prior to his jail sentence Mr. Yameen, 64, had relaunched his political campaign on an anti-India platform, spearheading the ‘India Out’ campaign across the Indian Ocean archipelago. When Mr. Yameen filed his nomination papers on August 1, the Elections Commission rejected his candidacy, pointing to ineligibility owing to the conviction. When the PPM challenged this legally, the country’s top court held that two constitutional provisions prohibit a criminal convict serving jail time from standing for public office.

It remains to be seen if the PPM would nominate another candidate before Monday, the last day for filing nomination papers. Meanwhile, hours after the Supreme Court ruling, Mr. Yameen urged his party to boycott the elections, but his demand was voted out. A majority from the joint senate of his PPM and its coalition partner People’s National Congress (PNC) voted against boycotting the presidential election, according to local news publication The Edition.

Earlier this year, President Solih’s ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) split after members loyal to Parliamentary Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed broke away, to form a new party named ‘The Democrats’. Mr. Nasheed announced his decision to quit the MDP in June this year, fuelling speculation that he might run against his former colleague. But, young parliamentarian Ilyas Labeeb on Sunday submitted his nomination as the candidate of The Democrats.

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