Maldives. At the beginning of the year, President Abdulla Yamin’s grip on power seemed to be tightening. Admittedly, in February, the Supreme Court (HD) rejected the judgments against former President Mohamed Nashid, former Vice President Ahmed Ahib Abdul Ghafur and eight other opposition politicians. According to the court, the trials had violated the constitution and international law. At the same time, HD declared that the twelve politicians who lost their parliamentary seats when they left Yamin’s party and went to the opposition would regain their seats. This would mean a majority in the parliament for the opposition. Nashid went into exile and received political asylum in the UK since he was sentenced in 2015 to 13 years in prison for terrorist offenses. Among those released through the decision in HD were also Ahmed Adib, who was convicted of attempted murder at Yamin 2015.
However, the government did not give up without a fight. First the national police chief was fired after he said that the imprisoned politicians would be released. Thereafter, the parliamentary meetings were postponed indefinitely. Apparently, Yamin did not dare risk the opposition to dismiss him. One week after HD’s verdict, the courthouse was stormed and Chief Judge Abdulla Said and another high ranking judge arrested by security forces. The day after, the three remaining judges revoked the decision to annul the lawsuits and a week later the decision to reinstate the twelve MPs was withdrawn.
According to Countryaah.com, Male is the capital city of Maldives, a country located in Southern Asia. President Yamin introduced a 15-day emergency permit (which was later extended) in February and Maumun Abdul Gayum, who was president from 1978-2008, was arrested. Gayum is half brother to Yamin but had chosen to stand on the opposition’s side. In March, Gayum was indicted, two judges at the Supreme Court and several government officials for terrorism and coup attempts. In June, Gayum was sentenced to 19 months in prison for attempting to prevent the investigation into an alleged conspiracy against President Yamin.
Earlier in June, Yamin had announced presidential elections until September. Nashid expressed his ambition to stand but his candidacy was rejected by the Election Commission. Instead, large parts of the opposition launched Ibrahim Muhamed Solih as their joint candidate. Despite the regime’s repressive measures against the opposition and the media, Solih won a clear victory in the elections. The victory margin – 58.3% of the vote against 41.7% for Yamin – was the largest since the introduction of democracy in 2008.
Yamin first said he accepted the loss, but in October appealed the election results to the Supreme Court, claiming that there were cheats with the ballots. However, HD approved the election and Solih could be sworn in as president in November. By that time, Gayum had been released and his sentence against him was revoked. HD had also withdrawn the arrest warrant against Mohamed Nashid and the president could thus return to the Maldives.