Some top PPM-PNC officials remain hesitant to back Muizzu

A capture from a press conference previously held by opposition PPM-PNC coalition. (Photo/PPM)

Some of the top officials within the leadership of the opposition coalition, composed of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), remain hesitant to endorse Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, who filed his candidacy on the PNC presidential ticket, on Monday.

While many of the officials have publicly announced their support for the Male’ city mayor, especially after PPM’s leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, changed his stance and endorsed his candidacy, some prominent officials have yet to do so.

This includes PNC’s deputy leader and top lawmaker Adam Shareef Umar, who lost the party’s ticket to Muizzu by a slim margin of two votes, and PPM’s deputy leader Ahmed Shiyam, and PNC’s deputy leader Ibrahim Shujau.

Shiyam said that he would respect PPM’s decision, but did not provide a clear answer when asked if he supports Muizzu.

Neither Adam Shareef, nor Shujau responded to texts seeking a comment.

PPM’s advisor, former president Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik – who had previously interested in running for office himself – said he would announce his decision regarding endorsing Muizzu’s candidacy, later.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison for money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.

Despite his imprisonment, he submitted his candidacy for the September 9 election last week.

The Elections Commission (EC) rejected Yameen’s candidacy due to his conviction, citing Article 109 (f) of the Constitution, which disqualifies candidates who have been sentenced to over 12 months in prison for a crime, unless it has been at least three years since they have completed their sentence or have been pardoned.

He contested the decision with the Supreme Court, which ruled on Sunday that the EC was right to declare the opposition leader ineligible to contest the election.

Following his unsuccessful attempt to have EC’s decision to reject his candidacy revoked, Yameen sent a note, instructing the PPM-PNC leadership to consider boycotting the election.

However, the leadership convened for an emergency meeting to discuss the instruction, and decided to put the matter to the vote of the joint senate.

The senate decided against boycotting the election with a vote of 67-45.

On Sunday night, Yameen communicated through his spouse, Fathimath Ibrahim that the opposition leader did not accept the senate’s decision.

Muizzu filed his candidacy with the EC on Monday morning, shortly after which Yameen’s top attorney, former vice president Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, announced that the former president had decided to accept the senate’s decision.

Jameel, PNC’s leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla, Guraidhoo MP Ghassan Maumoon, and nearly all members of the senate have congratulated Muizzu on the senate’s WhatsApp group.