Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has reignited the “India Out” campaign, casting a shadow of accusation over the current administration for what he perceives as cowardice in handling relations with India. 

Despite legal constraints tied to his conviction on charges of money laundering and bribery, Yameen has taken an active role in the political arena, leveraging his support for the nascent People’s National Front (PNF) to voice his criticisms.

During a political gathering to drum up support for PNF’s parliamentary candidates, Yameen spared no criticism of senior officials within the incumbent administration, whom he alleges have become too intimidated to continue the “India Out” advocacy they once championed in opposition. He boldly asserted the ongoing presence of Indian military personnel in the Maldives, challenging government claims to the contrary and demanding transparency regarding their numbers.

Yameen’s criticism extends to the preservation of a presidential decree issued by his successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, which effectively banned the “India Out” campaign. He questions the government’s apparent paralysis on the issue, expressing bafflement at their hesitance to address a matter that has significantly impacted Maldivian national sentiment.

Highlighting what he considers acts of aggression by India, including the alleged storming of Maldivian vessels in national waters, Yameen frames these incidents as clear instances of bullying. He contrasts this with the government’s muted response and points to derogatory terms used by senior government officials against India and its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, as indicative of a reciprocal bullying that has gone unaddressed by the administration.

Despite the risks associated with his political engagement, given his legal and correctional constraints, Yameen’s outspokenness has yet to attract reprisals, signalling a potential tacit allowance of his political activities.

As Yameen’s political activities gain momentum, the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) has announced a review of the leniency previously granted to the former president, citing repeated violations of the agreement between Yameen and the correctional authority.