Amid escalating tensions, leaders of the Progressive Party of the Maldives today found themselves ordered to leave the High Court by police in riot gear. Their attempt to secure a hearing date for the appeal case of President Yameen, the party's presidential candidate, met with no response from the court's administrative staff.
In December 2022, President Yameen was convicted of money laundering charges and was consequently sentenced to 11 years in prison. Since then, Yameen and his party have been battling against the clock, trying to appeal the case. An appeal was filed in February 2023, with the hearings scheduled for June 2023. However, this schedule was disrupted as two judges on the bench suddenly took leaves of absence, plunging the case into uncertainty.
The approaching deadline for candidacy filings for the upcoming September presidential elections has intensified the situation. Before he can contest in the election, Yameen needs to be cleared by the High Court. The sudden "leaves" taken by the judges and the subsequent lack of a rescheduled hearing have added a further layer of complexity and tension to the case.
Progressive Party leaders remained at the court today in a bid to obtain a response or a hearing date. However, their presence was met with silence from the court's administrative staff. In a turn of events, police in riot gear, acting on the orders of the president, entered the court and demanded the leaders vacate the premises, warning them of forced removal.
The events unfolded to the shock of many, with MP Mohammed Saeed, the vice president of the opposition coalition, taking to Twitter to express his dismay. He tweeted, "The riot police is trying to pull us out of the High Court today. All what we are asking is justice to our presidential candidate n the opp/leader PresYameen. Gov is hijacking the appeal process in fear that Solih will lose the election with embarrassing results. Today, in the name of democracy Solih is showing his real colors. A dictator who’s not even mentally fit.”