The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has raised the possibility of legal action against the Zaeem-DRP (Z-DRP) faction formed by some of its members last month, claiming it had infringed opposition party’s rights to its name and logo and threatened to “confuse” supporters ahead of the 2013 election.
DRP Deputy Leader and spokesperson Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef told Minivan News that although he believed the Z-DRP had acted in a manner that would put off voters looking for a change to the current government, he was concerned about possible confusion among voters over the identity of the opposition’s leadership.
He claimed that after repeated requests to try and require party members aligned to the Z-DRP to work within the main party’s constitution and avoid criticising and attacking its leadership, party heads were now considering how to deal with what they see as dissent in the ranks.
Formed amidst an ongoing dispute between serving DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and his predecessor and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the Z-DRP aims to represent the former national leader and his supporters. The faction includes serving MPs including Ahmed Mahlouf and dismissed deputy leader Umar Naseer, who led seven days of protests in the capital last week.
The Z-DRP and its supporters have been critical of Thasmeen and his role in opposing the government of President Mohamed Nasheed.
Referring particularly to what he said were party concerns about the by the Z-DRP of the party’s name and imagery, Shareef said he did not rule out the possibility of legal action being taken against registered party members belonging to the faction backing former President Gayoom over allegations they were infringing on the DRP’s image.
“The DRP council has recently met and passed legislation to give authority to the party’s leader [Thasmeen] to deal with the situation and protect the party’s name,” he said. “If it is deemed that matters warrant legal action then we will take it through the courts.”
Umar Naseer and the Z-DRP leadership had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.
After officially beginning work as the Z-DRP last month, Umar Naseer who is a prominent figure in the factional group, was yesterday reported claiming the faction was near to announcing its own presidential candidate for general elections scheduled for 2013, according to the Miadhu newspaper.
Speaking yesterday to assembled journalists, Naseer was reported to have said that the faction represented the “real DRP” for party supporters and had a strong chance of winning the presidential elections in two years time.
Along with working to try and form a parliamentary council under the Z-DRP banner, Naseer claimed that the faction would reveal its presidential candidate following a primary he expected to be held at a congress next year.
Shareef denied that the announcement of a Z-DRP presidential candidate would be a concern to the coutnry’s main opposition party, claiming the public were now becoming used to democratic processes. However, he accepted that there was a danger that some people were becoming confused as to who the DRP’s leader actually was.
“I don’t believe [a Z-DRP presidential candidate] is a concern. After what will be five years of democracy in the country, I believe people are more aware and will not vote for people who are unable to follow their own party’s constitution,” he claimed. “I don’t think we have to fear about the impact of the Z-DRP.”
Speaking earlier this year regarding a possible split between different factions in the DRP, MP Ahmed Nihan, who is among the members of the Z-DRP, said that he had been the designer of the DRP’s sailboat logo and under recently passed intellectual property laws, he held the rights to the image.
“I designed the logo, which received over 700 votes to be adopted as the symbol of the party on 21 July 2005,” he said. “If anyone tries to make a big deal of the issue then we can claim it. They have never paid me for the use of [the logo].”