Opposition voted for the 2020 budget on ex-pres' instruction: Ghassan

Jailed former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's nephew Ghassan Maumoon has revealed that the opposition voted to approve the budget proposed by the government for 2020 on his uncle's instruction.

While speaking at an opposition rally held Friday night, the son of former Maldives strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom said although the opposition has several reservations regarding the proposed budget, they were urged to up vote the budget by President Yameen who is currently jailed at Maafushi Prison for money laundering.

"We voted to approve the budget to align with the example demonstrated to us by President Yameen as the opposition, and what he practiced while President, and the decisions he sealed while behind bars," said Ghassan.

Ghassan said these are trying times for the PPM-PNC coalition and supporters of President Yameen. However, the former president's resolve cannot be shaken, said the MP. He would continue to stand behind President Yameen despite any threats posed by the current government, he added.

"I do not care if I am jailed for 40 years, I will come out and continue to rally behind President Yameen. Our resolve cannot be shaken, our determination cannot be compromised, and we will not tire from our efforts. We will continue to march forward in advocating for the country and President Yameen," said Ghassan.

The Guraidhoo MP said the opposition coalition's vision was to free their leader from jail, and present him as a candidate in the 2023 presidential election. President Yameen is a protector of Islam, and turned around the country's economy, and would defend the country's independence with his life, said Ghassan about his uncle.

The Criminal Court late last month found Yameen guilty of money laundering and sentenced him to five years in jail, ordering him to pay the state an amount of US$ 5 million within six months.

He was accused of defying the agreement between himself and the Anti-Corruption Commission, which stipulated the former president to move funds in his Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) account that are suspected of having been laundered, into an escrow account set up between the two parties. Failing to do so, and moving the funds in question into an investment account, the former president deposited funds from another source into the escrow account.

The verdict has now been appealed at the High Court.

The opposition continues to protest the verdict every night by gathering in front of the PPM Office in capital Male'. The party has stated that they will not cease their protests until the former president is freed.