Yameen sees Pres Muizzu’s hope for his acquittal as ‘warning sign’

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 he sees President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s remark that he hopes to see him get acquitted on Thursday as a warning sign.

Yameen 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. The High Court is scheduled to deliver its verdict on Thursday afternoon, after a months-long pause in the appeal proceedings.

At a campaign rally held by the People’s National Front (PNF) on Wednesday night, Yameen said that he thanks President Muizzu, if his expression of well wishes for him are sincere.

But he said that he doubts the High Court hearing slated for 01:15 pm on Thursday will be held as scheduled.

“I have been summoned to the court. But will all three members of the bench be there tomorrow? Or will they call in sick as some of them have done in the past? If the full bench fails to show up, then there’s something suspicious going on,” he said.

At a campaign rally earlier on Wednesday, President Muizzu said that while he is happy the High Court has scheduled the sentencing hearing in Yameen case, he questions the timing. He noted that the scheduling of sentencing comes mere days after Speaker Mohamed Aslam – a top politician from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – threatened to lodge a case with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) regarding the delay in Yameen’s appeal. He said that it proves MDP’s influence over the judiciary.

Referring to these remarks, Yameen asserted that President Muizzu is unhappy the court is finally issuing its judgement. He alleged that there was another reason behind it – that top state officials had guaranteed the president that he would not regain his freedom ahead of the parliamentary elections on Sunday.

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

“Therefore, the comfort Muizzu has is that some top officials have assured him that it will not happen. The hearing was suddenly scheduled for tomorrow amid this,” he said.

Yameen said that President Muizzu does not call or text him, and that saying otherwise would be a lie. He said that the president’s remarks bring to his mind the tweet former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom posted ahead of the controversial Supreme Court ruling on February 1, 2018.

“Looking at the current situation, wasn’t it was the night before the Supreme Court issued its order of the dangerous coup d’etat in 2018 that a former president said that a major eclipse was coming? This message tonight reminds me of that eclipse,” said Yameen, referring to the later rescinded court order to free political detainees.

Yameen was transferred home on October 1, 2023 – a day after President Muizzu won the presidential election.

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

He has also grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of President Muizzu’s administration, has repeatedly alleged that President Muizzu and other members of the PPM-PNC leadership had never wanted him freed.