The Maldives Supreme Court announced on Sunday that imprisoned former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is barred from running in the country’s presidential election in September.
The ruling is another setback for the Maldives’ Progressive Party (PPM), which declared Yameen its candidate before his December conviction for corruption and money laundering in connection with bribes from a private enterprise while he was president.
The party last week challenged the Election Commission’s block on his candidacy because he is serving an 11-year jail sentence, arguing the commission had misinterpreted the constitutional prerequisites for presidential candidates.
The commission’s decision “that Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is ineligible as he doesn’t meet the conditions stipulated under article 109 is the correct decision,” Justice Husnu Al Suood ruled.
Yameen, the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was seeking a comeback in the South Asian archipelago after losing power in 2018. He campaigned against Indian influence in Maldives, raising concerns in New Delhi.
Close to strategic shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is a focal point of competition between India and China for influence in the region.
The PPM’s coalition partner, the Progressive National Congress, has said it would field a candidate if the Supreme Court declared Yameen ineligible.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is seeking a second term despite his Maldivian Democratic Party splitting in June after a public fallout between Solih and another former president, Mohamed Nasheed.
Nasheed, after losing the party’s president primary to Solih, formed a party called The Democrats, which has announced its own candidate.