The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) was to hold two concurrent protests this evening after the ‘For Sale’ protest organised by the party’s Deputy Leader Umar Naseer for Friday was delayed due to weather.
However continuing poor weather led to the cancellation of both protests, which would have coincided at the Artificial Beach this evening at 9pm.
Naseer told Minivan News that both protests “were planned to take place as one.”
The outspoken and uncompromising critic of the government’s privatisation of state assets issued a press statement this week announcing the ‘For Sale’ protest, without the apparent approval of the party’s secretariat.
The party’s council voted 16-11 in favour of bringing Naseer before the party’s disciplinary committee over the matter, leading Naseer on Wednesday to publicly question the sincerity of DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and allege that senior officials in the party “are known to be involved in secret deals with the government.”
In support of Naseer, DRP MPs Ilham Ahmed and Ahmed Mahlouf condemned the council’s decision as characteristic of a “dictatorship.”
The DRP Council meanwhile announced a protest for this evening at 9pm at the Artifical Beach, coinciding with Umar Naseer’s protest until the cancellation of both.
Factional rumblings within the DRP became noticeable during its last congress, when the party voted against holding primary elections to determine the party’s presidential candidate, and instead opted for the leader to automatically become the candidate. Thasmeen was then elected to leadership unopposed, after prior public endorsement by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Naseer, who had resigned from and attempted to disband his own Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) to pursue higher political ambitions, was a vocal critic of the decision to not hold primaries.
Following the congress Faathin Hameed, one of the DRP’s formative members and niece of the former President, told Minivan News that the voting itself was suspect because delegates “were bought before they even got [to Male’].”
“There were a lot of complaints from the islands lodged directly at the DRP office,” Faathin told Minivan News in March. “I made a point of writing to the committee in charge of the congress, headed by the [Parliamentary] Speaker Abdulla Shahid, reporting the complaints I was receiving and requesting action in order to ensure a transparent, free and fair democratic process.”
Faathin claimed the DRP’s “failure to fund its grass-root groups” had made the party dependent on outside financial support at the island-level, which had resulted in delegations from Male’ travelling to went to the islands “to ‘assist’ in holding the elections – teams sent by people with vested interests.”
Among the complaints shown to Minivan News were allegations from party members that they had been deliberately excluded from participating in island-level meetings, that island-level meetings were not announced or held in secrecy, that agendas were not announced in advance, and that candidates were not given the opportunity to put themselves forward. There were also disputes over vote counting.
Despite apparent tension over the issue of holding primaries, the party continued to insisted it was united even as a subsequent court case related to US$100,000 in debts was levelled at then-DRP leader elect Thasmeen by Abdulla Yameen, the former President’s half-brother and leader of the DRP’s coalition partner the People’s Alliance (PA).
Yameen contended at the time that that court case was “a civil case with no bearing on a political arrangement”.