President Abdulla Yameen on Saturday broke his silence over a Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of his political opponents, including the former president Mohamed Nasheed, saying he was ready to start his re-election campaign immediately.
Yameen addressed ruling party supporters in the capital, making it his first public appearance since Thursday night’s decision was published, with his pep talk lasting around 35 minutes.
The court also reinstated the 12 MPs who were previously stripped of their seats to give the opposition coalition a majority in parliament, which has the power to impeach the president.
Yameen was flanked by First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim. He was speaking to hundreds of people, many of whom were sporting the party’s signature colour of shocking pink, and there was a heavy military presence surrounding him.
“I didn’t expect this Supreme Court ruling at all, but as they are the top court and there’s a ruling, the state and all relevant authorities have to do a lot of work to see how to implement it,” he told supporters.
“God willing the work is going well, we’ve started dialogue and talks with the Supreme Court. We’ve sat and started talking about difficulties or concerns the state has, Attorney General Mohammed Anil has already shared this, he’s the person working as the lead on this.
“We’re working on making sure we can respect the Supreme Court order in a way that doesn’t cause any difficulties to people,” he said.
Presidential elections are due to be held months from now but Yameen, who appeared relaxed and happy, challenged the opposition.
“If they need to see who has support now, if it takes holding elections early I would do that,” he told the crowd, to cheers and applause.
He scoffed at the opposition alliance’s chances of beating him at the ballot box, saying the Supreme Court ruling had effectively split the coalition.
“Until yesterday the MUO (Maldives United Opposition) were deciding who to field as a single candidate, but Nasheed just said as the Supreme Court released him he would now not consider rival leaders opinions over this,” said Yameen, referring to Nasheed’s declaration to run for office.