MP Ahmed Mahlouf of the split main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP’s) faction loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom called on the party’s supporters today not to attend a rally planned for Thursday night by DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s faction, and new coalition partner Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).
At a press conference held by the ‘Gayoom faction’ today, DRP’s Youth Wing President Mahlouf insisted that tomorrow night’s event was not organised by the party, urging members who support the former President to stay away from the rally at Kalaafanu School.
“That is not a rally held by DRP,” Mahlouf claimed. “We urge anyone who supports [the Gayoom faction] not to participate in that rally or even go there to watch the show. They are trying to test something. That is, [to find out] how much support they have.”
The ‘Gayoom faction’ has meanwhile moved its rally, originally planned for the same night, to Friday night.
Earlier in the day, MP Rozaina Adam, sister-in-law of the embattled DRP Leader, stressed at a separate press conference at the DRP office that the purpose of the rally was not to “hit back at others within the party, quarrel with them and call each other names.”
DQP Secretary General Abdulla Ameen told press that tomorrow night’s rally would mark the beginning of “renewed efforts to hold the government accountable,” adding that internal disputes since the end of last month’s local council elections had weakened the opposition.
The rally will be the first joint event by the two parties since a coalition agreement was signed on February 14.
Following the controversial dismissal of Deputy Leader Umar Naseer in December, the worsening factional split within DRP led the party’s founder and ‘Honorary Leader’ Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to officially withdraw his endorsement of Thasmeen for the presidency in 2013.
While Gayoom accused his former running mate of running the party “dictatorially” to protect and advance personal interests, Thasmeen contends that a few members within DRP’s leadership are pursuing “an internal campaign” to discredit and replace him on the DRP presidential ticket.
At a rally held last Thursday night by the Gayoom faction – attended by a number of DRP MPs along with minority opposition People’s Alliance MPs and senior ministers in Gayoom’s cabinet – Umar Naseer read out letters purportedly from DRP branches in the atolls retracting support for Thasmeen.
Umar called on those within the DRP’s front ranks who are “indebted to the government” to “go to the back seat.”
Former President Gayoom addressed the crowd through Umar’s phone – which was held up to the mic – offering gratitude and a vote of thanks to the speakers at the rally.
Also at the rally, Mahlouf’s calls for Thasmeen’s resignation was echoed back by the crowd gathered at the tsunami memorial area; Mahlouf called on the beleaguered leader to either resign or “step aside and pave the way for a primary so that we can have a new leader.”
Mahlouf asserted that he purposely broke the DRP’s three-line whip in last week’s vote on approving members to the Broadcasting Commission “to teach Thasmeen a lesson.”
The DRP MP for Galolhu South claimed that he does not have to follow instructions from a leader he does not recognise as legitimate.
Moreover, Mahlouf warned that Thasmeen would be “more dictatorial than President [Mohamed] Nasheed” should he win the presidential election in 2013, adding that the current DRP Leader would “pursue personal vendettas and target opponents.”
The country would go “into a slumber” under Thasmeen’s presidency, Mahlouf continued, as “even now when he’s trying to win power he spends four days a week at an island in Vaavu Atoll.”