Tensions are bubbling within the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC) coalition as President-elect Dr Mohamed Muizzu and former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom diverge in their approach towards securing Yameen’s release.

In a recent gathering at his residence, Yameen directly challenged President-elect Muizzu’s request for his supporters to refrain from street protests. Muizzu had earlier made a plea to allow him the diplomatic space to work towards Yameen’s release, citing concerns about potential chaos and civil unrest. 

Yameen, however, emphasised that the ordinary people, rather than the political elite, have shown the most dedication towards his cause.

“The people should not hesitate to come out onto the streets when the leader who did the greatest work for the country is arrested. You must have that courage,” Yameen proclaimed.

Adam Shareef Umar, PNC vice-president and a member of the Maldivian parliament, responded to Yameen’s comments. Shareef, who was Defence Minister in Yameen’s cabinet, disclosed that he had been arrested twice for actively participating in demonstrations calling for Yameen’s release.

“Yes sir. When President Yameen was in jail, we organised and participated in all the demonstrations held by the PPM-PNC and supporters. I was arrested twice by the police,” Shareef wrote.

President-elect Muizzu, who won the presidency with Yameen’s last-minute support, clarified his stance in an interview to local media. Muizzu assured that he was committed to freeing Yameen and insisted that his approach would be diplomatic and lawful.

“I have full confidence in that. The first phase, it has already been successful [transferring Yameen home]. Let me do the job,” Muizzu expressed. He further stated, “I will not see any such conflict or allow any space that encourages conflict. I want peace to come to Male’ and Maldives.”

While Muizzu claimed he saw no scope for a rift between him and Yameen, there are questions about the long-term unity of the PPM-PNC coalition. The party’s recent electoral victory was achieved amid an 11-year jail sentence handed to Yameen in an MMPRC corruption scandal case, making him ineligible to contest the presidential election. Muizzu stepped in as the candidate, ultimately defeating the incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

With Muizzu slated to be sworn in next month, the pressure is mounting to keep the coalition intact while managing the varying expectations from within the party and the public at large. The situation recalls the recent divisions in the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that resulted in a split and the formation of a new party.