As former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom begins to engage in political activities following the recent relaxation of his house arrest terms, the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress (PPM-PNC) coalition is steering through complex challenges as it addresses the dynamics of power within its leadership and questions surrounding the legality of Yameen’s involvement in political affairs.

Abdul Raheem Abdulla, standing as the interim leader of the PPM-PNC coalition, has clarified that recent absences of key leadership figures at events featuring Yameen were not indicative of internal rifts but coincided with commitments to President-elect Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s schedule. Raheem highlighted that Yameen’s endorsement was instrumental in Muizzu’s successful presidential bid, underscoring the ideological alignment and unified front presented by the two parties.

The Maldives Correctional Service eased Yameen house arrest conditions on medical grounds, subsequently allowing for expanded movement within Male’ City. These concessions have stirred controversy as the Maldives Correctional Service hinted at potential revocation due to Yameen’s active political engagement, which they had previously warned could lead to a rescinding of his house arrest privileges, granted for medical reasons under an agreement with Yameen.

The coalition leadership rebuffed suggestions of competition between the PPM and PNC, aiming for collective growth rather than individual party expansion. Raheem reassured the public of the coalition’s solidarity, despite the conspicuous absence of PPM-PNC leaders at recent PPM events where Yameen appeared. He explained that other commitments related to the transition of power and seeing off President-elect Muizzu to Singapore overlapped with these gatherings.

Additionally, Raheem dismissed the lack of a public statement from the PPM-PNC regarding the corrections department’s warning about Yameen’s house arrest terms as unnecessary, arguing that a response to a statement issued under the Prisons and Parole Act was not appropriate. He has also reiterated that the government’s actions towards Yameen were perceived as targeted oppression, and that the former presdient’s activities were in line with the advice given by the corrections department.

Yameen’s recent transfer from jail to house arrest, on 1 October, after the election victory of the PPM-PNC’s candidate Muizzu, has raised questions about the coalition’s stance towards the legal and ethical implications of Yameen’s political participation under these conditions. The former president was convicted and sentenced on 26 December 2022 to 11 years in prison with a fine of US$5 million on charges of bribery and money laundering in relation to the lease of Aarah in Vaavu Atoll.

While Yameen’s active engagement in politics following his house arrest relaxation has drawn both support and scrutiny, the PPM-PNC coalition has been firm in denying any discord within its ranks. Raheem, taking on his recent role as the PNC’s chairman, emphasised the goal of legally bolstering PNC’s membership without diminishing the PPM’s base, setting a target for the PNC to reach 10,000 members without necessitating transfers from PPM.