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Opposition gears up in protest as ex-Pres Yameen completes year in prison

Shahudha Mohamed
23 November 2020, MVT 14:27
Former President Abdulla Yameen-Criminal Court trial
Shahudha Mohamed
23 November 2020, MVT 14:27

The opposition coalition of People's National Congress (PNC) and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is gearing up to hold protests across Maldives on the one-year mark of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's incarceration.

Speaking at a press conference held by the opposition coalition on Sunday, PNC's Vice President Ibrahim Shujau stated that the coalition will not respect Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s guidelines, set in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, if the ruling coalition was not adhering to them either.

Declaring that the opposition will disregard the protective guidelines, he asserted that the parties will continue the campaign for the incoming local council elections scheduled for March, and expand it into protests across the archipelago.

"The entire Maldivian population should come out on the 28th. The events will be carried out without considering [Director General of Public Health] Maimoona [Aboobakr]", Shujau continued.

The Parliament representative of Lhaviyani Atoll's Naifaru constituency Ahmed Shiyam criticised the current administration's efforts of reforming the judiciary, stating that the judicial system has never been this corrupt.

Expressing concern over the delay in High Court's verdict, following the conclusion of the appeal hearings of Yameen's five-year prison sentence, he stated that the unjust treatment of the former President and his family exposes the failing of the system.

Shiyam further claimed that the Supreme Court's conclusion on October 8, that the state had no grounds to freeze all of the former president's accounts indicate that Yameen should be freed.

Asserting that a series of protests under the theme of "Maldives against injustice" will take place from Saturday onwards, PNC's Vice President Mohamed Nimal declared that the state had failed to ensure Yameen his rights.

Ex-President Yameen was jailed on money laundering charges linked to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC)'s embezzlement scandal which resulted in a potential loss of MVR 4 billion in state revenue.

The state charged former President Yameen over a transaction of USD 1 million to his account in Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) by SOF Pvt Ltd -- a company implicated in the MMPRC embezzlement scandal, considered the largest corruption case recorded in Maldivian history.

While Yameen had agreed to transfer the USD 1 million to a joint escrow account at Bank of Maldives (BML), which was opened with Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), it later surfaced that the money Yameen transferred to the account was not the USD 1 million he received from SOF. The funds from SOF were instead deposited in a general investment account at MIB.

Additional money laundering charges have been raised against the jailed president as he approaches the one-year mark of imprisonment, following Criminal Court's verdict announced on November 28, 2019.

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