On December 25 last year, the Criminal Court convicted and jailed former President Yameen Abdulla Gayoom, opposition leader, on unsubstantiated charges of corruption and money laundering. It is clear to the public that this is a blatant political witch hunt against former President Yameen to prevent him from entering the list of candidates for the Presidential election.
With the election approaching, in order to increase the possibility of winning the election, Solih government deliberately delay former President Yameen’s appeal process, and interfere with judicial procedures, which completely violates the principle of election fairness and is a blatant manipulation of the election.
Justice delayed is justice denied
In V Aarah case, the former vice president Ahmed Adeeb’s testimony is key to Yameen’s conviction. Adeeb was tried in 15 cases. In seven of these cases, charges were dropped by the trial court, while he was convicted in eight cases and sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, Adeeb was transferred to house arrest shortly after testifying in the Yameen’s case. Recently, Adeeb was granted special permission to go to Singapore for medical treatment. In exchange for his testimony, the government converted imprisonment to house arrest and allowed Adheeb to leave the Maldives for medical treatment in the run-up to the election, which is an manifestation of the Solih government’s interference with the judicial process of Yameen.
A hearing in V. Aarah Case was held in June, and former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb and the ex-Managing director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) appeared as witnesses. During the hearing, Yameen, who suffers from back pain and other health-related issues, was denied both adjournment of the trail to a later date and regular bathroom breaks.
More worryingly, the High court has repeatedly blocked hearings on the grounds that judges in charge of Aarah Case are on the leave. According to the High Court, Judge Huzaifa was on medical leave on July 11, while Judge Saleem is on leave starting July 15. All these have raised suspicions that the government is deliberately delaying Yameen’s appeal process, and raised concerns among people that whether Yameen can win the case and run in the upcoming election.
A rigged election
“It was another rigged election, with President Solih snuffing out all the candidates who posed a threat to him in advance.”, Voters discuss the race on social media.
In January, Speaker Nasheed publicly accused President Solih of manipulating the MDP primary and removing 39,000 of his supporters from the party. In June, MDP’s parliamentary group submitted the no-confidence motion against Nasheed. Shortly after, Nasheed posted his handwritten letter on social media and officially announced his decision to quite the MDP. After launching the MDP, Nasheed also publicly criticized the government for deliberately delaying the trial of Yameen.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by former President Abdulla Yameen, which sought to restore his right to contest the upcoming presidential election. In the Maldives, politics has taken precedence over the judiciary and the independence of the judiciary has apparently become a hollow phrase.
The increasing politicization of the judicial system has led to criticism from all walks of life at home and abroad, and the election has gradually become a contest for personal power.