Opposition gathers 10,000 signatures for petition calling for ex-pres' release

The opposition has revealed that over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of jailed former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.

The former president was sentenced to five years in jail last month for money laundering.

In a press conference held by the PPM-PNC coalition, Deputy President of Peoples' National Congress (PNC) Hussain 'Mundhu' Shareef said the opposition has been collecting signatures for a petition calling for the release of President Yameen since Saturday.

Mundhu said the petition was prepared as the former president was jailed unjustly, and because the international community is concerned due to his jailing.

'Already, over 10,000 people from across the country have signed the petition, and efforts [to collect signatures] are ongoing with enthusiasm. Arrangements have been made at the party [PPM]'s office to collect signatures. All you have to do is come to the party office and give your signature,' he said.

Mudhu said the coalition aims to grant the opportunity for maximum number of people to give their signature to the petition. Arrangements are being made to make the petition available at islands in the atolls, said Mundhu.

'We hope by the time we close collection of signatures, all those who wish well for President Yameen and all who believe he was jailed unjustly will sign the petition. We hope to submit the petition to the relevant authorities by next Islamic month,' Mundhu added.

Mundhu added that the petition will be sent to President Ibrahim MOhamed Solih, relevant government authorities and international organizations.

The opposition coalition earlier revealed that the international community is concerned with the unfair and unjust jailing of president Yameen. Members of the opposition recently travelled to neighbouring Sri Lanka to bring the issue to the attention of the international community.

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 US$ 1 million 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 having moved 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, although its proceedings have not yet been started by the 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.