Yameen: Clear from ‘lackluster’ protests that PPM-PNC leadership never wanted me free

Former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom greets supporters gather outside his residence on October 1, 2023. (Sun Photo/Maahil Athif)

Former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom says that the leadership of the ruling PPM-PNC coalition – which he once headed – never wanted him to be free, adding that it was clear from the “lackluster” protests held in the past demanding his freedom.

The former PPM-PNC leader made the remark at a campaign rally for one of the parliamentary candidates his new party, the People’s National Front (PNF), which has yet to officially register, is backing.

Addressing Sunday night’s rally, Yameen, whose appeal of a money laundering conviction remains thwarted, said he had monitored the protests calling for his freedom.

He called the protests “lackluster”, and said that the PPM-PNC leadership, if they had really wanted to free him, would not act in that manner.

Yameen said that some of the leaders failed to attend the protest, while others would show up one night and be absent the next.

Dr. Mohamed Muizzu (R) and Abdul Raheem Abdulla (C) attend a 'Free Yameen' rally. (Sun Photo/Naail Hussain)

“One PPM-PNC leader even summoned some of the protestors, fulfilled one of their wishes, and then asked them not to join the protest,” he said.

Yameen said that there will also be people with political ambition, and that it is not a bad thing.

But it is a problem when some of these leaders want to further their political ambitions by keeping me behind bars, he said.

“But instead, if I had been freed and if they had an honest talk with me, then wouldn’t they too have the chance to win in a competitive election?” he said.

Yameen, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2022 on charges of bribery and money laundering in connection to the sale of V. Aarah, was transferred home on October 1, 2023 – a day after President Muizzu won the presidential election.

Former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is transferred to home confinement on October 1, 2023. (Sun Photo/Alim Abdul Latheef)

But less than a week after President Dr. Muizzu took office in November, Yameen left the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – People’s National Congress (PNC) coalition – and initiated efforts to form PNF.

Yameen has appealed his conviction with the High Court. While the appellant court wrapped up its hearings months back, it has yet to deliver a verdict.

Despite the law prohibiting him from engaging in active politics due to his conviction, Yameen continues to be heavily involved in PNF’s activities, even attending party meetings and campaign events.

He has also grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of President Muizzu’s administration.