Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef has said the party is best served by current leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali as a force to unite its members rather than turning to a “conqueror” focused on self-interest, following the dismissal of Umar Naseer.
The senior DRP spokesperson said today that following last week’s dismissal of Naseer, the party does not fear a bitter split of its members, yet it accepts it will almost certainly be hindered in upcoming local council elections and in its role as the main parliamentary opposition.
Shareef accepted that the party now faces a serious challenge in light of losing the Deputy Leader, and that it remains impossible to predict whether the party could lose any experienced MPs due to potential discontent with the Naseer decision.
After being dismissed from the party amidst growing animosity with party leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali over an ‘unapproved’ protest, news reports have circulated that suggest Naseer’s departure may have come against the wishes of former president and party’s ‘Supreme Leader’, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf last week told Minivan News that he believes a split within the party could be imminent following the disciplinary committee decision against Naseer.
“[Naseer] is someone with a lot of support in the party, and to date he has done a lot of work for us,” Mahlouf said. “He is very loyal to the former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.”
Umar Naseer was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
Shareef said that although the termination of Naseer’s party membership had “been within the DRP’s constitutional rules”, it was still likely to create difficulties that the party would rather not have to face given the upcoming elections and ongoing opposition within the Majlis to cabinet appointments.
Yet, in Thasmeen, Shareef added that the party had “a quiet, peaceful leader” that he said would put national interest ahead of self interest instead of acting “like a conqueror”.
“We need a man who is president of a country, not just a party,” he added.
Shareef accepted that Naseer, who was removed from his position of DRP Deputy Leader on Thursday after the party disciplinary committee ruled against him during a day that saw its headquarters invaded by a dozen or so civilians, has many supporters within the party.
Shareef said that while Naseer’s popularity was expected to create “some difficulties and setbacks” for the party, the party was well known for is resilience and would continue to serve as the Maldives’ primary political opposition group.
“Despite these many setbacks and difficulties, the DRP is now the only hope for Maldivians,” he claimed. “People have lost hope in the MDP.”
Several MDP MPs contacted by Minivan News said they did not wish to discuss “the internal workings of the DRP”.