Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has used his return to the Maldives today to criticise the current leadership of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), instead playing up the recently formed Z-DRP faction of the country’s main opposition amidst ongoing internal disputes between certain members.
Speaking to assembled journalists at Male’ International Airport this afternoon, Gayoom was quoted by Haveeru as claiming that the Z-DRP – formed amidst increasingly bitter disputes between certain opposition MPs – served as a “reform movement” that promoted the true ideologies of the DRP.
Formed amidst an ongoing dispute between serving DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and his predecessor Gayoom, the Z-DRP aims to represent the former national leader and his supporters.
The Z-DRP has been particularly critical of Thasmeen and his role in opposing the government of President Mohamed Nasheed, announcing earlier this week that it intended to put forward its own presidential candidate for the 2013 general election at a congress to be held next year.
The Z-DRP faction, which is linked to serving DRP MPs including Ahmed Mahlouf and its dismissed deputy leader Umar Naseer, has been conversely attacked by the heads of its parent party – the DRP – over claims its members have acted undemocratically and against regulations.
However, upon arriving in Male’ today on a flight from India, Gayoom said that amidst the ongoing factional infighting, he believed that the Z-DRP was the true spiritual successor to the party he formed and ran for five years from 2005. Gayoom did not comment on his own future presidential ambitions with the faction though.
“The real DRP is the faction that calls itself Zaeem DRP. It is an initiative that began to achieve the objectives that the party was founded on,” Haveeru reported Gayoom as saying. “The DRP recently took a turn towards another way; it took decisions against the charter and the Maldivian people observed [failure] from the DRP in taking its responsibility of holding the government accountable. The Maldivian people were disappointed with DRP.”
When questioned on his possible intentions to form an entirely new party, the former president said that the party was founded on democratic principles and therefore had room for members sharing different beliefs. He was reported to claim that he did not have any intention of forming a new party.
However, reconciliation between the DRP and its recently formed Gayoom supported-faction appeared unlikely earlier this week when serving party Deputy Leader Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef said legal action was being considered against the Z-DRP to an attempt to protect its name and logo.
Shareef claimed that the DRP council had given Thasmeen the authority to possibly seek court action against the Z-DRP members over claims they had infringed on the party’s own name, as well as potentially confusing voters over the party’s serving leadership.
He added 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, DRP party heads were now considering how to deal with what they see as dissent in the ranks
Shareef nonetheless denied that the announcement of a separate Z-DRP presidential candidate standing for election in 2013 would be a concern to the country’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.”