Members of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) are claimed to be throwing their weight behind current leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali after he last week came under criticism from the family of his predecessor and former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Press reports in the Maldivian media have continued to focus on the impacts of a DhiTV interview with Gayoom’s daughter Yumna Maumoon on Thursday, accusing Thasmeen of “spreading” autocratic rule.
Haveeru has reported that the party has sided with Thasmeen, although none of the MPs have publicly criticised the party’s ‘Honorary Leader’.
Yumna Maumoon said Thursday evening that DRP members were concerned that Thasmeen was ruling the party dictatorially, as well as failing to properly oppose the government of President Mohamed Nasheed.
The criticisms have added further weight to a split within the party down factional lines between various MPs.
In a statement, the DRP said that all policy decisions adopted by the party were made by majority decision agreed upon by an internal council.
“Therefore, the leader is required to execute any decision made by the council. This party does not believe that this is part of spreading the leader’s dictatorial ways within the party,” the statement read. “This party also does not believe that the leader should follow the instructions of a specific person in such a way that it contradicts with the spirit of the charter.”
DRP MP Rozaina Adam told Minivan News that according to the party’s rules, former President Gayoom’s position as ‘Honorary Leader’ and did not give him a say in the political running of the party.
“The political leader of the party is Thasmeen. He is the one who is legally responsible for the actions of the party. It is the DRP Council that votes on a course of action, not former President Gayoom,” Rozaina said.
She speculated that much of the tension within the party revolved around the Council’s decision last year to send former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer to the party’s disciplinary committee, which made the decision to remove Naseer from the DRP.
“It was the Council that voted to send Umar Naseer to the disciplinary committee, which made a decision regarding the issue, not Thasmeen himself,” Rozaina said, adding that it was doubtful whether Thasmeen even had the authority to change the decision of the committee.
The DRP had a review committee, Rozaina said, “but Umar did not even apply for that. Instead he went and complained like a little boy to Mr Gayoom, to try and get him to change the decision.”
A split was looking inevitable, she suggested.
“Right now it looks like we are heading towards that. A lot of members in the Gayoom faction have been talking about creating a new party. It probably will split – I don’t see us getting along or working together.”
Even in the event of a split, Rozaina said it was unlikely that the opposition’s parliamentary majority would be threatened. While there were five DRP MPs on Gayoom’s side, both sides were still working against the ruling MDP, she said.
The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), led by former Attorney General Hassan Saeed, has already joined Thasmeen’s side of the DRP as a new coalition partner.
Rozaina said the party’s other coalition partner, the People’s Alliance, had been leaning in support of Gayoom’s side.
“There’s been a lot of rumours that [PA Leader and half brother of Gayoom] Abdulla Yameen is behind all this, and that this is something he has been planning from within,” Rozaina suggested.
DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News that while he had no comment on any specific allegations, he was “very happy” with the democratic processes within the party.
“Every decision is made in a democratic manner,” he said.
Speaking to Minivan News last month, DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that the current antagonism between factions loyal to Thasmeen and dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer had made the party very susceptible to rumour and damaging gossip.
However, he said at the time that the party would remain unified and that gossip that the party could be split into individual political groups loyal to either Thasmeen, Gayoom or other MPs was inaccurate.
However, the party has continued to be rocked by reports of literal infighting with DRP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef claiming in February that factions within the party were trying to “stifle freedom of expression” in a bid to seize leadership.
Reports of factions within the DRP have circulated since Naseer’s departure last December, leading to violent confrontations at an official party meeting held the same month that required police intervention after the dismissed deputy leader attempted to gain entry to the event.
The disturbance was linked to a growing war of words between Thasmeen and Naseer, with the latter still choosing to campaign with his former party ahead of local month’s local council elections alongside Gayoom himself.
Various MPs including Thasmeen, Ahmed Mahlouf and dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer were unavailable for comment when contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press.