Ex-pres Yameen endorses Muizzu’s candidacy

PPM's leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom (L) and PNC's presidential candidate, Male' City Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu (R). (Photo/Avas)

The opposition leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom endorsed People’s National Congress (PNC)’s candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu at the last minute on Monday, a day after he called on the opposition coalition, composed of Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and PNC, to boycott the upcoming presidential election.

The former president’s decision was announced by his top attorney, former vice president Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

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 Elections Commission (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 that the EC was right to declare the opposition leader ineligible to contest the election.

Following his unsuccessful attempt to have EC’s decision to reject his candidacy revoked, Yameen sent a note, instructing the PPM-PNC leadership to consider boycotting the election.

However, the leadership convened for an emergency meeting to discuss the instruction, and decided to put the matter to the vote of the joint senate.

The senate decided against boycotting the election with a vote of 67-45.

On Sunday night, Yameen communicated through his spouse, Fathimath Ibrahim that the opposition leader did not accept the senate’s decision.

Muizzu filed his candidacy with the EC on Monday morning.

Shortly after he filed his candidacy, Jameel announced that Yameen has decided to accept the senate’s decision.

“President Yameen has changed his mind in line with the decision of the senate. You have my full support,” he said.

In addition to contesting the EC’s decision with the Supreme Court, Yameen had also 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 Muizzu won against PNC’s deputy leader, Madduvari MP Adam Shareef Umar with a slim margin of 25-23.

Muizzu has picked Faresmaathoda MP Hussain Mohamed Latheef (Sembe) as his running mate.