Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has formally petitioned the High Court to delay his 11-year prison sentence on bribery and money laundering conviction. Yameen’s appeal to stay the sentence was predicated on the High Court’s failure to hear his appeal despite repeated requests. This latest move follows a recent setback for Yameen, as the Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Elections Commission (EC) to disqualify his presidential candidacy based on constitutional eligibility criteria.

According to Yameen’s legal team, the delay in the High Court appeal hearing, coupled with the lack of action on the stay order, has hindered his ability to navigate the legal process effectively. However, High Court media officials have countered this claim, stating that Yameen had not previously sought a stay order in accordance with established court procedures.

The protracted delay in hearing the appeal has raised questions about the handling of Yameen’s case within the High Court. As a high profile political figure, Yameen’s legal proceedings have drawn considerable attention. The delay has fueled speculation about potential underlying factors influencing the progress of the appeal.

The EC’s reliance on Article 109(f) of the Constitution, which bars individuals with criminal convictions carrying sentences exceeding twelve months from contesting the presidential election, has ignited legal interpretations and discussions.

Yameen’s legal defence centered on interpreting Article 109(f) as requiring the conclusion of appeal process in criminal convictions. Despite this argument, Justice Husnu Al Suood, one of the seven justices on the Supreme Court bench, asserted in his opinion that Yameen’s ongoing appeal process did not exempt him from the criteria outlined in Article 109(f). Consequently, Yameen’s 11-year prison sentence and fine remain enforceable until a higher court overturns the lower court’s verdict.

The unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court justices underscores the constitutional underpinning of the EC’s decision and confirms its alignment with the stipulations set forth in Article 109(f).

Analysts say Yameen’s attempt to postpone his prison sentence reflects his determination to navigate the intricate legal issues while striving to maintain his political relevance.