Yameen's lawyer Dr. Mohamed Jameel talking at a recent PPM meeting. Photo/PPM

Opposition grills senators for doubts over Yameen's candidacy

Instead of formally looking into the issue, the aim was to summon the concerned persons and explain things to them, a PPM source had said.

3 June 2023

By Mohamed Muzayyin Nazim

Opposition has initiated an investigation into PPM-PNC senators, who had raised doubts on social media about the possibility of jailed opposition presidential candidate, former president Abdulla Yameen, contesting the upcoming presidential elections.

Yameen's 11-year prison sentence last year for money laundering and accepting a bribe has presented obstacles for him to contest in the September 9 presidential election. 

Although lawyers and the leadership of the opposition coalition have assured Yameen that he will be free in the appeal process and will run for office, there are concerns among senate members about it.

The issue was compounded by a tweet by the party's former secretary general and current senate member Mohamed Shakeel on Thursday afternoon and comments made by other senate members on the tweet.

Shakeel, who served as a member of the Elections Commission in Yameen's government and later minister of state for economic development, tweeted that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was "a manipulator, deceitful and a tyrant".

He raised question on whether President Solih would allow Yameen to be freed through the courts. Shakeel expressed concern over the fact that PPM was not giving a second thought to the presidential ticket.

"Should we sit back and watch the charades played through the courts, believing that President Yameen will be allowed to contest?" he asked in the tweet, which was later deleted.

"It's nearly impossible to believe if you think reasonably. We need to think further if we don't want to lose 2023 [presidential election] the way we lost the parliamentary elections," Senator Fathimath Rukshana said in a comment on Shakeel's tweet.

Yameen was in detention when the parliamentary elections were held in 2019. Therefore, some senators still believe that this is one of the reasons why PPM lost the election.

Besides Rukshana, Senator Fathimath Fazla also commented on Shakeel's tweet in a similar vein, recalling what happened during the parliamentary elections.

A reliable source told Atoll  Times on Friday that the party leadership had initiated an inquiry into the tweets. 

"A three-member committee has been formed and people have been summoned for questioning," said a senate member who did not wish to be named.

Adam Shareef denied the report. However, when asked further, he did not want to comment on the matter.

The committee looking into the matter consists of:

  • PNC President Abdul Raheem Abdulla

  • Party vice-president Ahmed Shiyam

  • Adam Shareef

A senior party leader told Atoll Times that some senators were questioning the possibility of a situation where Yameen would not be able to contest the elections. Instead of formally looking into the issue, the aim was to summon the concerned persons and explain things to them, he said.

Former Vice President Dr Mohammad Jameel Ahmed also recently encouraged party members not to worry about the issue.

With nearly three months to go for the presidential elections, the rift within the party is growing. Similar cases have been reported in the past when the decision to investigate the senators was taken up. 

This is because some members of the leadership are trying to get the ticket since Yameen is unable to apply. One of the accused is party vice-president and Male mayor Dr Mohamed Muizz.

Muizz denied this, but PPM looked into it, saying people close to him were trying to do so.