The Elections Commission (EC) has officially registered the People’s National Front (PNF), spearheaded by interim leader Zeine Abdulla Yameen, son of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in the political party registry.

The party’s interim Secretary-General Mohamed Maleeh Jamal announced the registration of PNF as a political party in a post on X. Despite the significant challenges encountered, including the police obstruction of the party’s inaugural congress, Jamal affirmed the party’s commitment to move forward.

On 9 April, the party planned to hold its inaugural congress with 300 members at Ghiyasuddin International School. However, the event was obstructed by riot police, who barricaded the school’s gate. A Maldives Police Service (MPS) spokesperson stated that the Education Ministry had requested police intervention to prevent an unauthorised gathering at the school to protect the premises.

The party held the inaugural congress later that evening at the Raalhugandu area in eastern Malé, near the old Newport restaurant. Jamal claimed that the Mohamed Muizzu administration was responsible for the disruption of the electricity supply at Ghiyasuddin School, the initial venue for the congress. In a bid to prevent the proceedings, police also resorted to using tear gas against party members to obstruct the democratic process, he further alleged.

Despite its official registration, PNF will not have any representation in the incoming 20th parliament. Although the party was unable to field any candidates under its name in the parliamentary elections, 35 candidates endorsed by President Yameen vied for parliamentary seats but failed to win any of them.

The relationship between President Yameen and current President Muizzu has remained strained since the inauguration of the new People’s National Congress (PNC) and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)-led government.

President Yameen, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay US$5 million fine after being convicted of bribery and money laundering in December 2022, was transferred to house arrest after President Muizzu’s election victory in September 2023. His conviction was overturned by the High Court a week ago, following an appeal process which concluded in November 2023.

Following his release, President Yameen claimed that the 11-year jail sentence had deprived him of numerous rights and alleged that the Muizzu administration had unlawfully attempted to delay his appeal.