The parliament on Monday approved an amendment to the Privileges and Protection for Former Presidents Act, which will grant privileges and protection to any former presidents convicted of a criminal offence once they complete their sentences.
The bill, which was lobbied by Kanditheemu MP Abdul Shaheem Abdul Hakeem of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was passed with 58 votes in its favour. Two lawmakers voted against the bill.
The Act currently in effect bars convicted former presidents and their spouses from the privileges and protection accorded to former leaders. The Act was amended as such during the administration of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, receiving much criticism from the then-opposition who accused that it was targeting former presidents, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed.
The parliamentary Committee on National Security and Foreign Relations, which reviewed MP Shaheem's bill, amended it to cut off the privileges and protection granted to a president and their spouse, either during their tenure or post term, should they be convicted of a criminal offence. The protection and privileges would resume once the convicted president or former president finished serving their sentence.
Presently, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has been found guilty of money laundering, with the Criminal Court sentencing him to five years of imprisonment along with a USD 5 million fine. Should the newly approved amendment be ratified, Yameen will be deprived of his presidential privileges and protection until the end of his sentence.