Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has levelled pointed criticisms at the leadership of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – People’s National Congress (PPM-PNC) coalition, accusing them of half-hearted efforts towards securing his release. 

The comments were made during a campaign rally for a parliamentary candidate of the yet-to-be officially registered People’s National Front (PNF), a political movement spearheaded by Yameen following his departure from PPM-PNC.

Yameen, who is appealing a conviction for money laundering, scrutinised the vigour of past protests demanding his freedom, labelling them as “burned-out”. He insinuated that the tepid nature of these protests reflected a lack of genuine desire from the PPM-PNC leadership for his release. 

According to Yameen, inconsistencies in the participation of key leaders in these protests, alongside allegations that one leader dissuaded protestors from further participation after fulfilling a request, highlight a strategic suppression of support for him, potentially to further their own political ambitions.

Yameen’s comments underscore a deepening rift within the Maldivian political fabric, suggesting that some within the leadership ranks may perceive his continued detainment as advantageous for their political trajectories. He provocatively suggested that a sincere dialogue and his subsequent freedom could foster a more competitive electoral environment, contrasting sharply with the actions of some leaders who he implies prefer to see him remain behind bars.

The backdrop to these remarks is Yameen’s ongoing legal battle against a conviction handed down in December 2022, related to bribery and money laundering charges connected to the lease of Aarah in Vaavu Atoll for tourism development. 

Despite his transfer to house arrest a day after President Muizzu’s election victory, Yameen’s departure from the PPM-PNC coalition to form the PNF marks a significant realignment in Maldivian politics, further complicated by the High Court’s delay in delivering a verdict on his appeal.

Yameen’s active participation in the PNF’s campaign activities, despite legal restrictions against his involvement in politics due to his conviction, signals a defiance that is increasingly putting him at odds with the current administration.