'No circumstance yet that prevents Yameen from contesting election'

The main opposition, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), has said there is no circumstance yet that prevents former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom from contesting the 2023 presidential election.

The Criminal Court on Sunday found the former president guilty of money laundering and bribery charges in the Aarah corruption case, leaving the door closed for him to contest the upcoming presidential election until a higher court quashes the verdict. The court sentenced him to a total of 11 years in prison, along with a US$ 5 million fine.

Speaking to the press following the guilty verdict, the opposition said the current circumstance does not prevent Yameen from contesting the election and that the party would not consider another presidential candidate.

PNC President Abdul Raheem Abdulla, who is in charge of running the opposition coalition, said the opposition coalition would not consider a second candidate for the election as the appeal process is still pending. With many days left before the presidential election, the people of the Maldives will see President Yameen contesting the election, he said.

"I am stressing that President Yameen will contest the presidential election, and he will win it," he said.

Abdul Raheem said that despite President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's government and the Indian government wanting to imprison President Yameen, he believed that Yameen would get justice because there are judges in the Maldives who would give justice. Even if some want to imprison President Yameen, they cannot change fate, and what is written in destiny, he said.

When asked by reporters who would be the PPM presidential candidate in the absence of President Yameen, Abdul Raheem said there would be no other presidential candidate from the PPM and PNC. There is no one who would want the presidential ticket while President Yameen is in the PPM and PNC, he said. His answer remained the same even when journalists repeated the question several times.

The opposition coalition has previously criticized some of the upper courts' judges. However, today, Abdul Raheem said he trusts the Supreme Court, and there are judges who are ready to rule for justice.