Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has openly accused the government of manipulating the Elections Commission (EC) to obstruct the registration of his new political party, the People’s National Front (PNF).

Currently serving an 11-year sentence under house arrest for bribery and money laundering, Yameen made these accusations at a PNF campaign rally – an action deemed a violation of the terms of his house arrest.

He criticised the EC’s requirement that membership forms must include the member’s mother’s name and her national ID number, labelling it a deliberate barrier created by the government to delay and obstruct the formalisation of the PNF. This requirement, introduced last year to purportedly prevent forgery and unauthorised submissions of membership forms, faced significant backlash, leading to its amendment in June 2023 to make maternal information optional.

Despite these changes, the PNF has encountered another setback with the EC’s refusal to allow the use of the PNF logo on ballot papers in the upcoming parliamentary elections. EC Secretary General Hassan Zakariyya explained that this decision was due to logistical issues, as the printing of ballot papers had already started. 

Zakariyya also indicated that while the PNF has been authorised to register, its official recognition as a political party awaits the verification of necessary membership signatures and the holding of its inaugural congress. Candidates supported by Yameen are contesting for seats in 40 constituencies.

As Yameen continues to defy the terms of his house arrest, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has stated that a review of Yameen’s privileges is underway. However, no action has so far been taken against him.