The Supreme Court of the Maldives has recently completed the hearings and has scheduled the verdict for today of former President Abdulla Yameen’s appeal challenging the rejection of his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election. The case has generated significant attention as it involves the main opposition coalition’s decision to select Yameen as their candidate, despite his current incarceration on charges of corruption and money laundering.
The Elections Commission of the Maldives (ECM) had previously stated that Yameen did not meet the qualifications to run for the presidency as outlined in Article 109(f) of the Constitution. The said article dictates that an individual should not have been convicted of a criminal offense carrying a sentence exceeding 12 months, in order to be eligible for the presidential race. Additionally, if such a conviction does occur, at least three years must pass after the completion of the sentence or the pardon.
ECM’s concern is that allowing a person with pending criminal charges to contest the presidency could lead to the possibility of serious criminals holding key state offices. Furthermore, granting an extension to the main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) would require changes to the voters’ list and potentially delay the scheduled election.
During the hearings, former President Yameen acknowledged his awareness of the USD 5 million fine imposed on him, which he was ordered to pay within six months following his sentencing on November 25, 2022. However, he claimed not to be aware of the payment deadline. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) countered this claim, stating that the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) had issued a notice regarding the fine on July 3. Yameen, however, refuted receiving any such notice or signing any relevant documents.
The case was heard by a seven-judge bench at the Supreme Court, presided over by Chief Justice Ahmed Muthasim Adnan. After the conclusion of the hearings, the Chief Justice announced that the court would proceed with delivering its verdict if no further clarifications are required.
As the verdict awaits, the nation remains closely attuned to the developments in this high-profile legal battle, which could significantly impact the upcoming presidential election and the political landscape in the Maldives.