The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has stated that it will nominate an alternative candidate if given the opportunity.
PPM made this announcement following the conclusion of former President Abdulla Yameen's candidacy appeal hearing at the Supreme Court on Friday, August 4.
PPM said that if the Supreme Court does not grant Yameen the opportunity to compete in the presidential election, the party will nominate an alternative candidate.
Earlier, the Elections Commission (EC) rejected Yameen's candidacy, citing his constitutional ineligibility according to Article 109 of the Maldives Constitution. This article specifies that a candidate must not have a criminal sentence exceeding 12 months, unless three years have elapsed since their release or pardon.
Yameen is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence due to his convictions for money laundering and graft related to the Vaavu atoll Aarah case. Although the case has been appealed to the High Court, its proceedings have been delayed for some time.
PPM's coalition partner, the People's National Congress (PNC), has put forth Malé City Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu as their presidential candidate. Dr. Muizzu had previously held the position of vice leader within PPM until Thursday, after which he signed with PNC in order to secure their presidential ticket.
PPM said that Dr. Muizzu will be the "Plan C" for the coalition. The party revealed that their "Plan A" involved nominating Yameen while their "Plan B" would be PPM putting forth their own alternative candidate if the Supreme Court approves.
PPM's vice leader, Ahmed Shiyam, said that Yameen would prefer the alternative candidate to be from the party itself, considering PPM's larger size within the coalition.
"This has always been our Plan B, we just did not disclose it since the issue is currently at the court. If Yameen cannot contend, he would want the alternative candidate to come from PPM," Shiyam said.
Shiyam said that PPM had prepared for Plan C in case the party does not receive permission from the top court.
"Plan B will be activated if the Supreme Court allows us to nominate a different candidate if Yameen is denied candidacy. If not, we will go ahead with Plan C," Shiyam said.
Shiyam added that the PNC presidential candidate was informed about the coalition's plan in advance, but Dr. Muizzu had expressed his interest in seeking the party's ticket to compete.
"This was a calculated move on Muizzu's part; he was already aware of the situation, but he decided to compete for Plan C," Shiyam said.
He further said that if Plan B is approved, Muizzu will have the opportunity to join PPM and compete for the party's nomination.
"PPM would need to revise its regulations in such a scenario, similar to the way PNC has done," Shiyam said.
Shiyam said that the presidential election would lack fairness and transparency if PPM, as the largest opposition party, is denied the opportunity to participate. He also expressed optimism that Yameen's Supreme Court appeal would be successful, enabling him to run in the election.
During the ceremony organized by PNC to officially nominate Dr. Muizzu as its presidential candidate, the party's leader, Abdul Raheem Abdulla, declared that PNC would withdraw from the election if Yameen is granted the opportunity to contest. Dr. Muizzu echoed this sentiment and expressed his desire for Yameen to participate in the election.
Yameen's candidacy appeal hearing took place on Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The proceedings concluded after both sides presented their arguments, and the Chief Justice announced that the case would proceed to the verdict.