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?
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