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Opposition shifts stance, seeks aid from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to free Ex President

29 January 2021, MVT 21:05
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom (on the right), during a state-held gathering. PHOTO: MIHAARU
29 January 2021, MVT 21:05

Former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel, acting on behalf of the legal team for Ex-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Thursday evening, called on neighbouring nations India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to aid the party’s efforts to free the Maldives’ former leader.

Ex-President Yameen is currently serving a 13-year jail sentence for charges of money laundering, 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.

Although the party has set its sights on making an international appeal to free Yameen, during his tenure as President relations between Maldives’ long term diplomatically India was fraught with tension, with anti-India sentiments spouted by government officials on multiple occasions, often whilst speaking in favour of more China-friendly policies.

However, the Maldives-India relationship seems to have drastically improved since the incumbent Solih administration took reigns, signified by the latter’s generous financial aid and several visits between important dignitaries, including two by PM Modi.

Last week, on January 21, the High Court sustained the Criminal Court's earlier verdict to sentence former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, convicted of money laundering charges, to five years in prison.

Tagging Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Pakistani Premier Imran Khan in his tweet, Dr Jameel urged the countries to “help avoid catastrophic civil unrest” caused by “dubious and fabricated charges” upheld by an, according to him, 'politically driven' Judicial Service Commission.

This is not the opposing alliance's first about-turn on previously expressed sentiments regarding collaboration with South Asian nations. Leaders from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC), two leading factions within the opposition coalition, have on previous occasions, sought audience with various high ranking dignitaries from the Indian subcontinent, to help further their cause.

The most recent such effort took place on November 11, 2020 when the opposition coalition met with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to discuss concerns regarding Yameen's allegedly deteriorating condition, under imprisonment.

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