Opposition split to MDP’s benefit: Eurasia Review

Knowing very well that the skeletons in the ‘cupboard’ would be dug out, [former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] did the right thing in seeking a deal so that he was left out of harm’s way, writes Dr S Chandrasekharan for the Eurasia Review.

“President Nasheed despite pressure from his colleagues in the MDP did leave Gayoom alone. Yet Gayoom, overtaken by greed for power or perhaps pressure from his relatives, returned to Maldives hurriedly to campaign for the DRP candidates in the local elections conducted recently.

“There is no doubt that Gayoom could claim credit for the smooth transition to democracy and no ‘Jasmine Revolution’ was needed. He had let the tourism industry to flourish despite objections from some of the religious extremists and more importantly kept the Islamists under control. Having provided a good constitution, he should have remained as a great “Patriarch,” keep away from politics and at the same time ensure smooth and peaceful transition.

“He could have as well attended to more critical social and environmental problems confronting the country in his retirement and remembered in history as the maker of modern Maldives. But he chose to stand for presidential elections. He did not do badly either though he lost in the “run off.”

“Now old skeletons are being dug up. The “Week” of 20th February from India, has extensively written about the family of Gayoom of having indulged in an illegal oil deal with Myanmar worth over $800 million and a report is now said to be submitted to the current President Nasheed by a Singapore Consultancy firm Grant Thornton.

“It was just eleven months ago that Gayoom personally handpicked his successor Thasmeen Ali to lead his party DRP and the latter was unanimously elected. Differences have been brewing between the ‘Supreme leader’ Gayoom and the President of the party Thasmeen Ali for some time now, ever since the deputy leader of the party Umar Naseer was sacked from the party. Gayoom’s family members openly alleged that Thasmeen was ‘ill-treating Gayoom’.

“The net result is that the DRP, which is a formidable opposition is in the brink of splitting up into two or more parties. The coalition partner PA led by Gayoom’s half brother Abdulla Yameen is alleged to be behind the split and yet he declared a few days ago that his party for the present will stick with DRP.

“The advantage as of now thanks to the re-entry of Gayoom is with MDP which has been making steady gains ever since it failed to get a majority in the parliamentary elections and has been facing stiff opposition on every issue including the appointment of cabinet ministers till now.”

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