The People’s Alliance (PA) party has today said it will not look to break from its coalition agreement with the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) as internal divides between its current leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and his predecessor former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom continue to escalate.
The comments were made as newspaper Haveeru today reported that Gayoom had confirmed that under the position of “honorary leader” for the DRP, he would be withdrawing his support for Thasmeen to stand as its 2013 Presidential candidate.
PA Secretary General Ahmed Shareef told Minivan News that reports that the party, led by Gayoom’s half-brother Abdullah Yameen, were set to leave a coalition formed with the DRP were not true, at least for “the time being”.
Shareef confirmed that Yameen had been interviewed on television yesterday evening to state his belief that there were concerns among the party’s members about current developments with its coalition partner.
However, after the DRP last month announced it would also be forming a coalition agreement with the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) following local council elections, the PA had said it expected continue to collaborate with the party on opposition issues.
Neither DRP leader Thasmeen or representatives for Gayoom were able to confirm reports that Gayoom would no longer be supporting the serving leader to become Maldivian president in 2013.
However, one serving MP said that Gayoom’s reported snub of the current party leader was not surprising in light of divides within the DRP between supporters of the current and former party leaders.
Gayoom had originally appointed Thasmeen as his successor following his retirement from active politics last year, however both men have since become aparent figureheads for two different factions that have formed in the party.
This split between Thasmeen and a faction consisting of dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and a number of serving party members has engulfed the party since December.
However, despite being dismissed from the DRP, Umar Naseer and a number of party MPs said to support him campaigned alongside former President Gayoom during a tour of a number of islands ahead of last month’s local council elections.
The last few weeks have seen this in-party feuding extended to a war of words between Thasmeen and Gayoom himself, with the former president last week putting his name to a twelve page document attacking his sucsesor for ruling in a “dictatorial” manner.
A number of DRP members contacted by Minivan News today either refused to comment on the media reports concernings Gayoom’s comments, or said they had not as yet been made officially aware of a statement on Thasmeen’s presidential ambitions, beyond what had been reported in Haveeru.
Speaking to Minivan News today, DRP MP Ahmed Nihan that he had not received any confirmation of whether Gayoom had retracted his support of Thasmeen possibly succeeding President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to lead the country. Nihan added though that he did not believe it was out of the question.
“I have not heard anything about what has been said outside of the meida. Given recent circumstances in the party this is expected though,” he claimed.
According to Nihan, core supporters of the DRP had been taken the issue of leadership to the media over concerns said to relate to Thameen’s questioning of the role Gayoom played in the party under the title of its ‘honorary leader’.
The DRP MP added that the reported end of Gayoom’s support for Thameen’s potential future presidential ambitions was “an outcome” of people trying to downplay and even omit the role Gayoom held as the party’s founding figure and one time leader.
“Some people are suggesting that Maumoon [Gayoom] only holds a symbolic position in the party,” he said. “Anyone who knows the DRP knows it was created on the basis of gayoom’s work and ideas. He is the DRP’s founder.”
Nihan claimed that the burden now lay on general members of the party to air their dissatisfaction against the party’s current leadership where possible to show support for Gayoom’s position within the party.
“I don’t think any DRP member would have expected this [divides in the party] to have happened a few years ago,” he said. “But, I think a large proportion of the party, perhaps some 80 or 90 percent of DRP members would be in support of Maumoon.”
Nihan last week said that he believed the DRP in its current form was “disintegrating” and was almost certain to split into different political bodies.
However, DRP MP Rozaina Adam said at the time that according to the party’s rules, former President Gayoom’s position as ‘Honorary Leader’ 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.”