Rejection of Yameen’s candidacy appealed to Supreme Court

Submission of PPM's presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's candidacy form to the Elections Commission on August 1, 2023. (Sun Photo/Abdulla Shaathiu)

Jailed presidential candidate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom has appealed the Elections Commission (EC)’s decision to reject his candidacy form for the upcoming presidential elections to the Supreme Court of Maldives.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison for money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.

However, Yameen has signed his candidacy from behind bars, with assistance from Maldives Correctional Service.

The form was handed over to EC’s Chairman Fuad Thaufeeq by Yameen’s election agent, PPM’s Secretary General Mohamed Tholal on Tuesday morning during a small-scale ceremony held for the purpose at EC’s focal point for the presidential elections established at Dharubaaruge.

EC, later in the day, decided against accepting Yameen’s candidacy form citing he was presently serving an 11-year prison sentence which makes him an ineligible presidential candidate under Article 109 (f) of the Maldivian constitution which bars individuals who have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison over a criminal offense from contesting the elections.

EC’s decision was submitted for appeal by Yameen on Wednesday morning.

The court has yet to make a decision on whether to accept or reject the appeal.

Yameen’s running mate Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who also serves as the head of his legal team, confirmed the submission of the appeal via a tweet on Wednesday morning. In his tweet, Jameel, citing they were working to restore Yameen’s rights, accused the government of using undue influence to deprive Yameen of his rights.

Yameen, in case his candidacy form gets rejected, had instructed the opposition coalition’s leadership to produce a PNC candidate for the elections. The leadership decided to bestow Yameen the power to choose a candidate. Yameen, however, refused to unilaterally make the decision and requested PNC’s senate to choose a candidate.