SC bars ex-pres Yameen from presidential race over ineligibility concerns

The Supreme Court today ruled that the PPM presidential candidate, former President Abdulla Yameen, cannot contest the upcoming presidential election.

Yameen filed his candidacy papers to contest the presidential election on August 1. However, the Elections Commission (EC) promptly rejected Yameen's candidacy, citing that he did not meet the requirements of Article 109(f) of the Constitution.

Article 109 of the Constitution outlines the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates. It specifies that anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to a prison term exceeding 12 months cannot run for the presidency unless three years have elapsed since the completion of their sentence or the granting of a pardon. In Yameen's case, the EC's decision was grounded in his ongoing 11-year imprisonment due to a money laundering and bribery conviction.

The EC's decision was challenged by Yameen at the Supreme Court. After concluding the hearing of the case on Friday, the seven-judge bench, led by Judge Hunu-Al-Suood, unanimously upheld the EC's stance, deeming it legally sound.

The Supreme Court's judgment said as the Criminal Court had found Yameen guilty of corruption in the lease of V. Aarah and had sentenced him to 11 years in prison, Yameen does not meet the constitutional requirements for presidential eligibility.

The verdict further noted that Yameen had not paid the US$5 million (MVR 77 million) fine, which was part of his sentence. The Supreme Court judgment defined the failure to pay the fine as ordered as a failure to pay a proven debt. Article 109 of the Constitution states that a candidate is not eligible if he has proven debt.