Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former Maldivian President and previous leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is reportedly considering a return to active politics ahead of travelling to the Maldives campaign during the local council elections, the party’s former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer has claimed.
A number of DRP MPs, including Naseer who was dismissed from the party earlier this month, said that although Gayoom has not yet committed to standing once again as party leader and a presidential candidate in 2013, discussion on the matter remained “open”.
Naseer, who served as a deputy leader of the DRP until being dismissed on December 2 by a party disciplinary committee, claimed that he travelled to Malaysia this week with a number of party representatives to discuss both Gayoom’s and his own political future within the DRP.
DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef said the party has not sought to talk with Gayoom or contact him regarding the rival faction in the party, and added that he was not concerned over the potential involvement of the “honorary leader.”
However, Naseer told Minivan News that Gayoom had committed to begin travelling around the Maldives during the local council elections to try and win voter confidence, as well as personally backing him in the dismissal dispute.
“Mr Gayoom believes that the dismissal was illegal and he wants the party to abide by its own constitution and still believes that I hold the office,” he claimed.
Naseer added that he was confident that the Maldives’ general election commissioner would in time rule that his dismissal by the party was improper and will not stand.
“There will be nothing to renegotiate, the position is illegal and I believe this will be supported by the election commission,” he added.
Alongside trying to secure his own future in the party, Naseer said that the former president was needed to prevent defeat in local council elections taking place in February next year.
“As it stands, we have requested he should come back and take charge [of the DRP],” he said. “Without him, we might not win.”
Naseer’s sentiments appear to have changed since an interview with Al Jazeera in November 2007 alongside (now) President Mohamed Nasheed and then-Information Minister Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, where he stated that Gayoom had “failed” and urged him to step down.
“The best thing for the Maldives at the moment is for Mr Gayoom to step down,” Naseer said. “He has failed in all areas. As far as Education is concerned, he has failed. Security he has failed. Corruption, he has failed. All these areas, he has failed. He must step down,” Naseer said, as President of his own Islamic Democratic Party (IDP).
Responding to calls today by Naseer and MPs such as Ahmed Mahloof in calling for the return of the former president to lead the party, Shareef said there was no concern about the impact the meetings could have on their position.
Shareef said that DRP MPs could meet with anyone they wished, but they must abide by the rules and constitution of the party in relation to appointments and dismissals.
“Every member of the party has a right to go wherever and meet whoever they want,” he added.
Naseer’s trip to Malaysia on Friday with a number of MPs still active in the party to meet with Gayoom come amidst a war of words has escalated between the ousted Deputy and current Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.
Just last week, a meeting at the DRP headquarters resulted in violent clashes between members alleged to be loyal to Naseer and Thasmeen represented growing animosity within the party about the decision to remove the former deputy leader from his position earlier this month.
Ibrahim Shareef said that the current party leadership had not been in contact with Gayoom about the meetings with Naseer as they believe there is” nothing to be discussed” with the man he said remained the party’s “honorary leader” and did not believe a split within the party was imminent. Shareef insisted that it was ultimately not in either “the party or nation’s interest” to try and cause a split within the DRP.
Considering any potential meetings between Naseer, DRP and Gayoom over appointments and the outcome of this month’s disciplinary committee on Naseer’s political future, Shareef claimed that Naseer had been removed in accordance with the party’s rules and constitution.
“Umar Naseer was dismissed in accordance through all the relevant processes required by the party,” He said. “[Naseer] also declined from making an appeal to the committee about the appeal.”
With the dismissal of Naseer now having taken place, Shareef claimed it could not be rescinded.
Naseer was dismissed as a DRP Deputy Leader on December 2, after a disciplinary committee voted four to one in favour of removing the senior politician on a day that also saw the party headquarter’s stormed by a dozen or so of his supporters.
The exit of Naseer, who has been at the centre of an acrimonious war of words with DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, has led one party MP to claim a split may be imminent within the country’s main political opposition.
“There will be a split in the party for sure,” DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf told Minivan News following the disciplinary committee decision. “He is someone with a lot of support in the party, and to date he has done a lot of work for us. He is very loyal to the former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.”
Mahlouf also claimed that the decision to remove Naseer due to disagreements with party leadership was against DRP policy and conventions that he said required a two-thirds majority at the party’s congress to remove a serving Deputy Leader.