Comment: Will the real DRP please stand up?

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the main opposition party of Maldives held their last congress in February, 2010. During this congress there were two main lines of thought regarding electing their presidential candidate.

One group, led by Umar Naseer, proposed the presidential candidate should be elected through a party primary. The other group, led by the DRP council, proposed that such a primary was unnecessary and the leader of the party will be the party’s presidential candidate.

After much heated debate and talks during party meetings and local television, the issue was to be decided by the members of the party, at their upcoming congress. A vote was taken and more than 95 per cent of the attendees of the DRP congress voted in favour of the proposal made by the DRP council to make the elected leader of the party their presidential candidate.

The issue was solved. The presidential candidate of DRP would be its leader. This means Thasmeen will be the candidate from the DRP, for the 2013 presidential elections.

For a while it at least appeared to me, as an outside observer, that the debates were forgotten and everyone was working together. But as time passed, DRP started to show hints of a divide. Before long, the divide deepened and today DRP is split into two unequal parts. There is the main DRP under its leadership, and there is its “Z faction” as they now call themselves.

Z faction seems to be functioning under the leadership of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former president of the Maldives. The letter Z in the name of this faction stands for Zaeem, an affectionate reference made to Gayyoom. Zaeem is an Arabic word, translated as ‘the honorary leader’. This honorary position was awarded by the DRP leadership to Gayyoom, who played a major role in founding DRP.

Gayyoom was thought to have resigned from politics for he announced his resignation in January 2010. So people expected him to spend his time away from the local political scenario. But if he did resign at that time, he seems to have re-entered politics and is now seen as an active member of the Z faction of DRP. Some even associate him as the reason why the Z faction was born.

Z faction, as the name indicates, is a faction of DRP. But on Saturday, after returning back to Male’ from a recent trip to India, Gayyoom announced that the Z faction of DRP is “the real DRP.”

My question is can this even be a legitimate faction? I think as long as they call it a faction of DRP, it cannot be legitimate before the DRP approves of its legitimacy. I don’t think the DRP will approve of its legitimacy because no matter what the supporters of Gayoom would like to call it, Z faction is formed of a rebellious group of DRP members.

The main leadership of DRP considers the Z faction as DRP members who do not accept decisions made by the party’s councils and committees. This is except for one person – Umar Naseer, whose name has been struck off the DRP membership register. Even though Umar Naseer and others who belong to the Z faction think Umar is still a deputy leader of DRP, DRP leadership considers him one of their ex-deputy leaders.

It is also worth noting here that most relatives of Gayyoom that I have seen on televised meetings of DRP are now seen in the frontline of the meetings held by the Z faction. So the Z faction is seen mainly as Gayoom, his relatives and supporters.

Representatives of a few minor political parties can be seen in the meetings held in the name of the Z faction of DRP. Many such meetings are solely or partially supported by the People’s Alliance (PA). PA’s leader, Yameen can be seen playing an active role in most of these meetings. Because of this and based on the comments made to local newspapers, until very recently, I was under the impression that Z faction is trying to promote Yameen as their presidential candidate. Like probably everyone else, I too was speculating. But now, I am thinking maybe I was wrong. I am now speculating that Z faction wants to bring Gayoom back as the president of this country.

Z faction has their own leadership which they selected only last week. I am not aware of how they chose their leadership. I only know that they announced the names of their leaders and council members. All of Gayyoom’s children hold posts in this newly announced leadership. This is not surprising to many of us because it is also widely speculated that Gayoom wants to create a dynasty. This will not be easy to achieve in the views of many political analysts.

Last Thursday night, Z faction held a meeting at the Artificial Beach. This was to publicly announce their leadership, amongst other things. In this meeting they tell us that Z faction holds the thinking of Gayoom. They also tell us that it is a democratic organisation. I cannot understand how it can be both. From what I understood, Z faction revolves around Gayyoom. How can an organisation that revolves around someone be democratic? If they love democracy so much, why did they split from the main DRP in the first place?

According to what they said, recently some of the council members of Z faction have even met foreign diplomats in Colombo, as the leading opposition party of the Maldives. They even discussed issues that are of national interest. I wonder what the foreign diplomats will think of this group. I also wonder whether they presented themselves as those belonging to a faction of DRP. If the members of Z faction met the diplomats, as members of DRP, then yes, they are indeed the leading opposition party. If they met as members of Z faction, I disagree.

Z faction is not a registered political party. Z faction is not DRP. Yet the members of this faction claim they are the “real DRP.” If they are the real DRP, why call it Z faction? Why not just DRP? For me, it appears that the Z faction is trying to highjack DRP and then bring a coup to it.

Even though the DRP congress decided that their presidential candidate will be their leader, in the minds of those belonging to Z faction, this issue has not been solved. Z faction does not want Thasmeen to be the presidential candidate from DRP. They want their favourite person to be the DRP presidential candidate. And because, under existing party regulations, this will not be possible, they have to search for an alternative means to do this. The result is the birth of Z faction.

Legitimate or not, the creation of Z faction has hit DRP hard. The biggest opposition party has not disintegrated but is weakened. All because one man wants to fulfil his dreams?

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


11 thoughts on “Comment: Will the real DRP please stand up?”

  1. Correction: Its not Zaeem faction.
    Its Zedey faction. Its Zedey DRP.

    Stop calling him Zaeem. He is not worth it. DRP should withdraw this honorary title back from Zedey.

  2. @Robin. What appears to you or what you beleive is not of importance to DRP members. There are no Maldivian political analysts , Maldivian politicians and analysts consist of prostitutes, drug addicts, criminals, opportunists....etc. What drives them is greed and addictive behaviour.

    No need of even talking of democracy in Maldives. First do a background study of the President and observe how the most senior citizens behaves. Stoned and Drunk. President of Maldives operates out of the constitutional boundaries and that means this is not the theoretical democracy that westerners promote to achieve their interests.

    Obviously the so called Z faction will take control of DRP soon.
    Personally I don't care about democracy or DRP council. For me the country comes first and whoever works in the interest of the country will have moral authority and legitimacy within DRP.

  3. Robin, in case you might not have enough information. Let me give you a crash course in Maldivian politics.

    In the Maldives, the concept of party politics does not yet exist. However, there is a complex web of tribal relationships which represent the elite in this country. Often, these amalgamated tribes form opposing clans vying for power.

    Since Nasir's departure from politics, two clans jostled for position. One usurped the other and was forced in turn to cripple the loser.

    In due time, the British helped the former loser to bring down the rule of the victorious clan which had managed to rule supreme for 30 years. The new conquerors now hold a stranglehold over government, however, lack effective control over the Parliament and judiciary.

    The opposing clan was allowed to exist and carry out its machinations due to conceit, miscalculation, whatever. The ruling clan has however managed to infiltrate the opposing clan and buy them out by blackmail and/or bribery.

    There is no right or wrong or discussion of factionalism within political parties here. A certain section of the opposing clan, a tribe if you will, has broken off, along with their puppets, and started negotiations with the ruling clan. The window-dressing and insincere political commentary does not matter. Next time you write an opinion piece, how about some real research huh?

  4. I thought the main point the author made was vital, excellent, a schism and a political wound bcause of the ambition (selfishness) of one person.

    @Tsk tsk: Perhaps, at it's deepest level all politics is tribalism. Nietzche said that all is will to power, will to power the ontological essence of being. Justice is the expression of the will to power of the most crushed, therefore they may follow a left wing party or a fundamentalist religious party which promises justice, equality is the expression of the will to power of the middle classes, hence they may follow a liberal democratic party, and caring or loving the people is the expression of the will to power of the elite, and the elite therefore more inclined to follow a conservative political party. YET, if we look at the history of classes, it is actually, in the long run, a history of different TRIBES if we trace the origin of it WAY WAY BACK! For example, perhaps the lower, middle classes of Maldives are the descendants of the original Dravidians, where as the Sri-Lankan Kings brought Be'Fulhism? Just a thought

  5. How many MPs does Zeday have, along with PA and others?

    How many will Thasmeens' DRP have when Parliament re convenes?

    Does anybody know?

  6. Please stand up ... pls stand up .... pls stand up ... stand up ...

  7. this looks like just another comment from a reader, a very long one. the only interesting point in the whole piece is, is z-drp legal? the rest is same blabber that you hear in sai hotaas. z stands for zaeem. zaeem means honorary leader. honorary leader is gayyoom. yameen is gayyoom's half brother!!!

    personally i find gayyoom clan's cutthroat politics very interesting. one of the books i would love to read someday is 'how zaeem stole drp from it's leader'.

    this doesnt necessarily mean i agree with their politics.

    robin wrote "Like probably everyone else, I too was speculating. But now, I am thinking maybe I was wrong. I am now speculating that Z faction wants to bring Gayoom back as the president of this country."

    this is exactly the result they want. how good politics has to be to confuse political analysts and commentators (such as robin)? the reason why robin thinks gayyoom will run again is because robin's understanding of dhivehi politics is pretty much the same as their target audience: gayyoom fans who still hope to see their master back in the helm and nasheed haters who cant find anyone but gayyoom to replace him. there are the everyday mohonus and manikus who believe everything they hear is true and there are many of them in maldives.

    laugh all you want at the name zaeem drp but it has served it's purpose of bringing back gayyoom the zaeem into mainstream politics.

    i feel sorry for thasmeen and of course rozey and the rest of thas clan. they picked the wrong fight.

  8. @ Ben Plewright:

    Pulled out a Nietzsche on me huh? LOL...In some aspects you might be right. This might be the seminal stages of the growth of ideologies and the consolidation of clans into more complex power structures.

    However, the split in ideology here is not yet so stark. Both clans believe in socialism and large government. The difference however is mainly based on who gets what.

    I was merely pointing out to readers of Minivan that this online daily has selectively chosen an extremely biased and uninformed comment for publication. Glad to see other comments already reflect my observation.

    There is no right or wrong people. Choose MDP or Z-DRP or MRM or DQP. It all depends on what clan serves you best. Some youths however truly believe the hogwash these parties are selling. While the majority of this country has lost faith in party politics.

  9. @tsk tsk tsk: yes, soon as I made that comment I realized I was tired and philosophical and it did not reflect what you said. But your point is very right. Indeed, most do not care about ideologies or class movements, very few are committed to a future Maldives which looks like such and such and such, most will simply do whatever it takes to give THEM power, and because in Maldives their are extended families and you support your own house name and Grandparents names like a tribe, it is families fighting for power for their power... One guy I know supports Maumoon because he is related to someone who is married into the family. I asked him why, what does Maumoon stand for? he did not, the question was a surprise. He was surprised that I should ask, or why he should even care. There was something in it for him. Another guy is close to Ann's family, they are happy Anni is in power, why? Do they believe in what he stands for? Do they even know? Does he even stand for anything? Does anyone stand for anything but what willl give them power? No, but he will support Anni believing his family connections means he will get personal favours. I just say all that to demonstrate I got your point and it was valid.

  10. @ tsk tsk

    "There is no right or wrong or discussion of factionalism within political parties here. A certain section of the opposing clan, a tribe if you will, has broken off, along with their puppets, and started negotiations with the ruling clan."

    I am not sure about that "started negotiations with the ruling clan" bit.
    If the tribe broke off and established themselves, as a new tribe or a new clan, its fine. There will be nothing unsusal. But the thing is, they seem to be snatching DRP from its leadership.


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