Former Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s top attorney, Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said on Sunday that they lost Supreme Court case over the rejection of the opposition leader’s candidacy due to the stall in the appeal of his 11-year sentence, describing it as a denial of his rights.
Yameen, the leader of the main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), was sentenced to 11 years in prison for money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.
Despite his imprisonment, he submitted his candidacy for the September 9 election last week.
The EC rejected Yameen’s candidacy due to his conviction, citing Article 109 (f) of the Constitution, which disqualifies candidates who have been sentenced to over 12 months in prison for a crime, unless it has been at least three years since they have completed their sentence or have been pardoned.
He contested the decision with the Supreme Court, which ruled on Sunday morning that the EC was right to declare the opposition leader ineligible to contest the election.
Speaking to press outside the Supreme Court, Jameel, Yameen’s former vice president and his choice for a running mate for this year’s election, said that the appeal of the conviction had been deliberately stalled.
He said that it has led to Yameen being denied his electoral rights, trapping him within the system.
“Yameen says that he has been denied his rights using the judiciary, and using administrative justice,” he said.
Jameel said the Criminal Court ruling against Yameen involved “major wrongs.”
The High Court hearings in the case have been stalled at the very last stage.
The court previously said it hadn’t been able to schedule a new hearing because one of the judges on the bench was on leave.
“President Yameen’s message to the Maldives is that he has been denied the right to appeal guaranteed to him under Article 56 of the Constitution, and that he has been denied his fundamental rights,” said Jameel.
Jameel said that “the fight is on”, despite the loss at the Supreme Court.
He said that they will not stop the fight to free Yameen, and elect him back to office.
The opposition PPM-PNC declined to comment on the court’s decision.
In addition to contesting the EC’s decision with the Supreme Court, Yameen had instructed PPM’s coalition partner, the People’s National Congress (PNC) to produce its own presidential candidate as a “backup.”
The PNC’s senate took a vote to decide its presidential candidate on Thursday, which was won by the Male’ City mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.
However, the joint PPM-PNC leadership now say that PPM will produce an alternative candidate, and that supporting PNC’s candidate is a “third choice.”
PPM is expected to announce its new presidential candidate soon.