Pres Muizzu admits PNF, Yameen’s candidates pose ‘challenge’

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu in an exclusive interview with Sun on April 5, 2024. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Hamza)

The inception of former Maldivian leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s new party, the People’s National Front (PNF), and the fact that candidates backed by him are contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections pose a challenge, admits President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

In an exclusive interview to Sun at Mulee’aage, President Muizzu said his administration faced various challenges from opposition parties “from day one.”

When asked how much of a challenge it is not to have Yameen by his side in the upcoming elections, President Muizzu said it is a challenge, and something he admits to.

“There are challenges. The creation of PNF and the existence of President Yameen’s candidates. These are also challenges. There may be certain difficulties in some areas. But we must move forward while accepting all this, right?” he said.

President Muizzu added that Yameen has the right to endorse candidates for the elections, and that everyone reserves the right to serve the country in politics.

He said that the ruling coalition, composed of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), remains united and committed to delivering all his pledges.

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu in an exclusive interview with Sun on April 5, 2024. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Hamza)

“I believe that even through all these challenges, the people will assist me in the parliamentary elections to fully execute the responsibilities they have charged me with,” 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.

But less than a week after President Dr. Muizzu took office in November, Yameen left the PPM-PNC coalition – which he had headed - and initiated efforts to form PNF. The party has met the membership criteria and received the go-ahead to hold its inaugural meeting. The candidates endorsed by the PNF are contesting the April 21 elections as independent candidates.

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.