The Supreme Court has commenced hearing a petition filed by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) presidential candidate, seeking to overturn the Elections Commission’s rejection of his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election.

The apex court is expected to deliver a verdict on the case on Saturday.

The electoral body rejected Yameen’s candidacy on Tuesday, citing Article 109(f) of the Constitution as the basis for its decision. The constitutional provision states that a presidential candidate should not have been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months unless a period of three years has elapsed since their release or pardon for the offense in question.

Yameen, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for charges of bribery and money laundering, failed to meet the eligibility criteria set forth in the constitution, according to the Elections Commission (EC).

The top court issued a directive to the EC to respond to the case by 3 p.m. on Thursday.

As Yameen’s candidacy has been rejected by the EC, the People’s National Congress (PNC), PPM’s coalition partner, has chosen Male’ City Mayor Dr Mohamed Muizzu as his replacement, pending the outcome of the case currently under consideration by the Supreme Court.

The deadline for filing nominations for the upcoming presidential elections is Monday, 7 August.