The senate of the main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was forced to suspend its meeting on Sunday, ahead of a key vote to decide whether the party will boycott the upcoming presidential election, as suggested by the party’s leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
Yameen 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.
Yameen has reportedly sent a note, instructing the PPM-PNC leadership to consider boycotting the election.
The leadership convened for an emergency meeting to discuss its next step, and decided to hold a vote to make the decision.
But chaos ensued, after ordinary members of the PPM were asked to leave the party office for the vote.
The police were deployed in response.
In addition to contesting the EC’s decision with the Supreme Court, Yameen had instructed 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 later said that PPM will produce an alternative candidate, and that supporting PNC’s candidate is a “third choice.”