Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has called for supporters of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to unite behind presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, claiming there was no room for division among its members.
Gayoom’s comments were published in local media yesterday (April 8 ) after he officially presented the PPM presidential ticket to his half-brother Yameen.
Yameen last month secured his spot in presidential elections scheduled for September this year, winning the PPM primary with 63 percent of the vote in a two-way contest against the party’s Deputy Leader Umar Naseer.
Following the primary, Naseer alleged that the PPM primary had been rigged in favour of Yameen. Naseer’s comments, as well as a subsequent refusal to retract them, have since resulted in the PPM’s disciplinary committee accepting a case against him.
“United and resolute”
However, speaking yesterday at a function to unveil Yameen as the PPM’s presidential candidate, former President Gayoom called for any rifts in the party to cease.
“We have to stand united and resolute on that belief. Now is the time for all of us to express one thought. Speak in one voice. Stand firm on one objective. There is no room for division among us after the presidential ticket has been presented,” Gayoom was quoted as saying in local newspaper Haveeru.
“In this party there should not be people who only support Maumoon or Yameen or anyone else. Everyone must be PPM members. Members must be sincere to this party,” Gayoom said.
After losing the PPM Primary, Umar Naseer held a rally and declared that despite admitting defeat, the party’s internal election had involved discrepancies including the influencing of voters, vote buying and intimidation of his supporters.
He also alleged that many of his supporters were denied the right to vote, claiming that their names had not been on the lists.
“Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s children were with Yameen, the largest gangsters in the country were with Yameen, all the drug cartels in the country were with Yameen, the most corrupted people were with Yameen, the whole elections committee was with Yameen and a large chunk of PPM’s parliament members gathered around Yameen.
“We came out knowing that the referee, the linesman and even the match commissioner along with his 11 players were playing on his side. Our team had the poor and the middle class players,” Naseer said at the rally.
“We even witnessed that those who are heavily involved in drug trafficking were present at the polling station wearing Yameen’s campaign caps,” he said. “Not only did they exert undue influence, they travelled to islands with stashes of black money and attempted to turn the votes. In fact they even did turn some votes.”
In September 2010, Umar Naseer was the Deputy Leader of Dhivehi Rayyiithunge Party (DRP), the DRP Council in a meeting decided to file a case against Umar at the Disciplinary Committee for forging a press release and for causing division in the party.
Later in December 2010, Umar Naseer was dismissed from the party – an incident that eventually led to a splintering of the DRP into a new party under Gayoom, the PPM.
PPM MPs Ahmed Mahloof and Ilham Ahmed were not responding to calls at time of press.