Voting at DRP congress was rigged at island-level, claims formative party member

Delegates travelling to Male’ to vote in the third congress of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) “were bought before they even got here”, claimed Dr Faathin Hameed, one of the DRP’s formative members and niece of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the party’s Honorary Leader.

Faathin alleged the elections held during the party’s congress “were not free and fair”, because the island-level elections of delegates were compromised by vested interests.

“There were a lot of complaints from the islands lodged directly at the DRP office,” Faathin said. “I made a point of writing to the committee in charge of the congress, headed by the [Parliamentary] Speaker Abdulla Shahid, reporting the complaints I was receiving and requesting action in order to ensure a transparent, free and fair democratic process.”

Members complained they were deliberately excluded from participating in island-level meetings, that island-level meetings were not announced or held in secrecy, that agendas were not announced in advance and that candidates were not given the opportunity to put themselves forward. There were also disputes over vote counting.

“There is a procedure for electing delegates,” Faathin explained. “At least 48 hours notice must be given to all DRP members on the island; the date, venue and agenda have to be publicly announced, along with the number of delegates to be elected; and members have to be given fair and equal opportunity to submit their names. This procedure was not followed, and on some islands DRP members did not even know the meeting was being held.

“I was involved in the formative meeting of the party and in each of the three congresses, and in each one these the issue of delegate elections has been very problematic.”

Vote buying

In the absence of party procedure, Faathin claimed “there were delegations from Male’ who went to the islands to ‘assist’ in holding the elections – teams sent by people with vested interests.”

She claimed the DRP’s “failure to fund its grassroot groups” had made the party dependent on outside financial support at the island-level.

“It costs about Rf1000 just to hold a meeting [to elect] a delegate,” she explained. “Renting the hall, the speaker system, the chairs – it is usually funded by a well-to-do person on the island or externally (from Male’) by an ‘interested’ person.”

Furthermore the party did not adequately provide for the logistics of bringing so many delegates to Male for the three day congress, Faathin explained.

“It’s an expensive thing to come and stay in Male’ for three days,” she said, “and the party said it did not have funding. Congress participation was structured so that every delegate got Rf600, for three and a half days, which is not enough for accommodation and food. The transport cost was also supposed to be paid by the delegate, to be refunded by the party when they got to Male’, but again some people don’t have that sort of [upfront] money to buy an Island Aviation ticket or get on the boat.”

The delegates from the islands were thus “dependent on handouts”, Faathin explained.

“The party was considering limiting the number of delegates. But then it got ‘well-wishers’ who were willing to fund delegates travelling from certain atolls. That structure led to delegates depending on any handouts that were given.”

When delegates arrived at the congress, Faathin said, “they were met by certain candidates’ campaign groups, taken to their campaign headquarters and given tea and the handout. Almost all delegates got that.”

Guest houses were “also booked in advance by these campaign offices, and gifted to delegation leaders and key delegations. You’re looking at an influx 800 people, and no way can that number be easily accommodated – people who arrived in Male’ at the last minute were running around trying to find accommodation.”

Election rigged?

Faathin was one of eight candidates for the DRP’s four deputy leader positions. The new vice presidents were Ibrahim Shareef (642 votes), MP Ali Waheed (645 votes), MP Ahmed Ilham (593 votes) and Umar Naseer, former president of the Islamic Democratic Party (502 votes).

The other candidates were Abdullah Mausoom (383 votes), Afrashim Ali (288 votes), Mohamed Saleem (239 votes) and Faathin, with 210 votes.

Faathin acknowledged she would likely face accusations of being a ‘sore loser’, “but the issues I am raising are not related to my winning or losing. I raised these same issues in writing much earlier, at the beginning of February when we started getting complaints. I have no issue with the vote counting, I believe it was done in a very proper way.”

Of primary concern

More important than the alleged rigging of the election process, Faathin stated, “was the then-council trying to undemocratically influence delegate voting on amendments to party regulations, particularly around the issue of [holding] primaries for the election of the party’s presidential candidate.”

She criticised the DRP council’s decision to appoint a three member committee to review amendments and make official recommendations, noting that one of these members was a rival candidate for the deputy leadership.

“There was ample opportunity for sabotage and the council really scuttled my candidacy,” she claimed.

“I myself submitted six major amendments, all of which were targeted at making the party’s internal processes more democractic, more transparent and make the DRP more accountable to its members,” she said. “I also focused on reversing the neglect of the island wings by the party’s leadership.

“The official congress paper on amendments circulated to all delegates contained the council’s directive on each amendment proposed by an individual member. On each amendment to be voted on there was a paragraph on how the council felt about the amendment,” she said.

“This is what every delegate was looking at when voting. What do you think the delegate is going to be thinking? Vote against the party leader?”

“Each delegate got that council paper the night before the congress began. The next day a lot of us protested, and a motion was even put forward that this paper be discarded and reprinted without the council recommendations, so that fair chance might given to us to present our reasoning. But the chair (Abdullah Shahid) ruled this could not be done because there was no space for motions.

“The party’s regulations say any party member can put forward a motion at the congress. It was very upsetting – this type of thing is detrimental to the whole party.”

Need for internal democracy

Faathin said she felt the outcome of the congress was “very negative”, as beyond the elections “we lost the chance to fully democratise the party.”

“I believe [democratisation] is very important if we are going to be competitive in the upcoming presidential elections,” she said. “The leadership has to be elected through a democratic process. It is not democratic to have an automatic process [of selecting a presidential candidate]. That’s an autocratic way of looking at it and one that this country has outgrown.”

“The voter base for any party to win the elections is not only its members – the members can be very loyal to the party but they are only about 30,000 strong. To win, we need the support of sympathisers and people who believe in what the party stands for. Without showing internal democracy and strength in that respect, it will be very difficult to win any election.”

Faathin said she feared the lack of internal democracy and focus on parliament at the expense of the party’s wings would alienate the party’s professional support base and lead to “dissatisfaction at the grassroots level.”

“If you look at DRP’s beginning, when we began we had a very wide membership – a lot of educated and experienced people and a very solid front line, even at the island and youth level,” she explained. “A respectable membership of people working in business, government – there was competence within the party.

“But as we have progressed, this has evolved into something different, and now if you look at the party you do not see a party frontline that gives confidence that it can form an alternative government. What is difference between MDP and DRP now?”

The DRP risks running for election having lost the support and experience of those who worked in the previous government, and the promise of an alternative, she claimed, noting that ‘lack of experience’ was one of the main charges levelled at the MDP when it came into power.

“It was a new team,” she said. “It had a lot going for it when it came into power. 30 years is a long time – anywhere, in any country – especially for youth. It was a negative the DRP could not counter. But now MDP is in power, when we come to 2013, DRP will not have that working for it. Any government as time goes by will find its footing, will learn from its own mistakes, and I’m sure MDP will also do that.”

When the elections are called, “all the DRP [will have going for it] is the MDP will not have performed,” Faathin predicted. “What the DRP has to present is a viable alternative – more experience, better planning, a team – and build confidence that it can run a better government. Right now we’re coming up to midterm and DRP doesn’t have that. Why would people want to take a risk? Why would a normal citizen vote for just another new team?”

New thinking, old models

MDP was struggling to to change its image from that of “radical street activism” to a “respectable governing party”, Faathin observed.

“They are having a difficult time at it, when same faces are there. But I don’t think modelling DRP on pre-election MDP is the solution – that model worked for MDP because the MDP activists at the time had the fundamental commitment from their own self-grievances, and that gives a lot more commitment than someone who is just trying to overthrow the government because they don’t like the party who’s running it. It’s a massive difference in mental outlook.”

Faathin said she felt that with its parliamentary focus and preoccupation with the civil service salary issue and the provinces bill, the DRP had missed a lot of chances to capitalise on MDP’s mistakes and address people’s issues.

“[The salaries and the provinces] are the two things the DRP leadership has been talking about, but they are not key issues for people in the islands,” Faathin said. “Their issues are the revisions to education system and the social sectors, health insurance, what is happening to their pensions, medicines, cost of health services and the issue of utilities companies hijacking their property. They are tackling these issues on their own right now, and there’s quite a lot of dissatisfaction at the lack of party assistance and advice. DRP is losing very good opportunities to build its support base.”


Speaker and DRP MP Abdulla Shahid dismissed Faathin’s claim that the delegates attending the DRP congress had relied on handouts from vested interests to make the journey.

“The party paid the transport and provided pocket money for the delegates while they were in Male’,” he said, but would not comment on whether he considered the Rf600 a reasonable amount for three days in Male’, only noting that “party finances are limited.”

On the subject of the complaints about the island-level elections he deferred to the DRP’s Secretary General Dr Abdulla Mausoom, but suggested that such complaints were common after an election: “The voting was very transparent.”

Shahid also said the DRP council’s practice of commenting on all amendments was appropriate because of their unique “view of the totality”.

“That is why DRP’s council has always reviewed amendments,” he said.

Regarding the party’s internal democracy and the subject of primaries, he noted that the same question had been put to him as chairman of the congress organising committee, “and I managed not to comment on it then.”

Mausoom, who like Faathin also ran unsuccessfully for the party’s deputy leadership, said no complaints regarding the party’s election procedures had been referred to him by the party’s internal election bureau.

“As a candidate I was 100 per cent happy with the whole election. I don’t think any party could have held them more perfectly,” he said.

As for Faathin’s claim that limited funding compelled delegates to accept handouts to attend the congress, Mausoom said that “all DRP members took part in the conference on their own initiative. Any financial support from DRP was a gesture of goodwill.”

Claims that grassroots support for the party was slipping were unfounded, he said, noting that in his own constituency of Kelaa Dhaairaa 27 people had recently joined the party in a single evening.

“The population at large is unhappy with the present government,” he observed.

Mausoom also dismissed Faathin’s concern that the council had influenced votes by publishing directives on the amendment papers, commenting that DRP members could think for themselves “as they are highly educated.”

Furthermore, he said, the correlation made between holding primaries and the party’s internal democracy was unsubstantiated.

“People attending the congress choose the leader who becomes the presidential candidate, not a nominee. All members can vote,” he said.


30 thoughts on “Voting at DRP congress was rigged at island-level, claims formative party member”

  1. When Fathin says 'The issues I am raising are not related to my winning or losing' I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. The hell its not related.. Why didn't she raise the lack of internal democracy (or any democracy for the matter) when she was pampered during her uncle's rule while there were so many qualified people.

    Now portraying herself as Mother Theresa, shows that women is either delusional beyond cure or very clever in compartmentalize things in her mind..

  2. In certain circumstances, may be even vote rigging is justified for greater good of public. Radiation is usually harmful, but may be useful in treating cancer.

    This is one of the rare instances of win-win for DRP, MDP and for the public.

  3. Faathin Hameed is extremely brave to openly discuss the problems with internal party governance in the Maldives. Democratic development has to be extended to every faucet of our lives so that we can throw down the yolk of our legacy of autocracy.

    Faathin will deal with a huge fall out because of her vocal action against the party structure. DRP is based on loyalty, power, and influence - and to go and sound a siren, as a party insider, is the highest act of betrayal. To go there takes courage.

    I do not know her and because I do not, I question whether this the lacking party structure, the elitism, and the oligarchic tendencies would have been exposed - though I do trust she would have tried to address it at least.

    A politician in Maldives needs to know when to take someone out to tea, or help him/her stay in a hotel, or go to Trivandrum for a medical check up or to visit family. We all know this to be true. Faathin's ideals are out of place when the Third World Politics of our country is so rough, so raw, and so ruthless.

    The really sad thing about this story is that no one admitted to a lacking party structure or transparency. Instead we saw pure denial, which means things may never be fixed within the party.

  4. Dear Mausoom, I so wish you will not start acting like another Mundhu, Ali Waheed or Umar Naseer (eventhough their style is proven to be a winner within DRP). By making statements like “As a candidate I was 100 per cent happy with the whole election. I don’t think any party could have held them more perfectly,” you are not only becoming irrelevant but you are losing credibility of everything else you say as well. Anyone with any common sense knows there are issues with the DRP congress that could have been improved and hence you could not be 100 percent happy for that means there was no room for improvement. Your response on this I'm afraid is a non-thinking persons response and I wish you will restraint yourself from this sort of talk and actually have some substance behind what you have to say.

  5. Fathin its time for you to accept Maumoon, your uncle is no longer the President neither he has the power which you all enjoyed for over 3 decades as untouchables and above the law. Whether its DRP or MDP none of you any power any more its a fact now, you need to learn to digest that.

  6. I beg to differ, AGAIN. The DRP leadership is dominated by reminnance of Gayyoom. Hardly the new strong democratic leadership required to challenge MDP. Great for MDP though.

  7. 1 to 1 program interview with Fathin was good. What she said came deep within her. She said what she believed in. I fet bad when a woman said she was absent from DRP for a long time and came back for the election. U cannot judge people without knowing facts. She is a mother and she was going through so much. Anyway DRP not having any woman as Vice Leader shows how much women's development is of interest to them. They have plenty of ladies with potential and the party use them to promote the men in the party. Cheers for Dr. Fathin, Uz. Azima. Aisha, Aishath Shiham,Duniya. Keep up the goood work.

  8. every election will have such issues but then again, it was evident that DRP does not really support a democratic system. i mean, DRP now have 4 deputy presidents, for God's sake and that shows DRP is all about leadership. the more leaders it has the more merry DRP is. it is sickening! and about women with potential being ignored, u said it @mariyam. however, i find it so amusing the "spiritual" leader of DRP bragged about how he promotes women's rights.

  9. A good start for open conversation within the DRP. However Mausoom's responses are weak. 100% is what Saddam or Kim jong il would say.

  10. Ah Mausoom always with the low standards. The guy seem to swallow everything shot at him. 3 day minister...., failed but Secretary general and naib Zaeem canditate...come on less votes than Umar even funnier Neuron

  11. It is very interesting to read that Fathin can now fathom figures' All these did they did not care where the money came from as long as they got what they wanted. God only knows how many people were deprived of scholarships because someone from Gayooms' immediate or extended family had to repeat a university year or do a PHD.

    It is also interesting that they still cannot fathom defeat. May it be DRP vice chair or even a school's band leadership they have to win otherwise it is not fair.

  12. It is Dr. Fathin's father who had been master mind behind rigging votes for Maumoon for the past 25 years or so!

    But Maumoon have not spared the daughter when it came for having his way to elect loud voices like Ali Waheed etc. etc.! Poor Hameed!

    DRP will know nothing other than rigging when it comes for voting!

  13. We have seen her showing the middle finger in front of Majlis. We seen her with a mega phone in Jumhooree Maidhan.

    Its ironic that she is complaining when she has to taste the bitter poison that her family fed to others.

    This woman's got real balls.

  14. Deefeated clan of Meenaz family will be out of politics soon or later. DRP people in islands has suffered numerous damages because of Abdullah Hameed and his Family. It is almost confirmed that meenaaz clan or hameed clan never understand the politics of the country which has been changing since 2004. Today opposition is being led by someone who has always been tourtured during maumoon and Nasir Regime. I dont think fathin should even speak of democractic values. She have always kept family in politics eventhough people of maldives wanted them out. Next is the race to decide whether there assets will be taken or sold on auction. hahahaahahah..

  15. Methinks there's foul play (and smell) plenty afoot when one sees some of these comments. Perhaps "comment" is not the word. Mayhap it's more snide remarking of cowards skulking behind the bushes than anything else. Obviously someone/some ppl out there has/have got a vindictive J streak in him/her/they.

  16. btw wud sum1 plz check wtf for da Chaandany thug broz bought their seats on da drp council?? i mean wot r those apes gonna do on da about wot? politics? societal issues? community values? awww cmon giv us a break!!!

  17. dear Ahmed Nanny (18th, 10:48).
    u kno wats more amusin? havin watched u cry "frigged" for almost 3 decades... kekekekekek

  18. Truly, I have not heard such passionate responses to those programs like 1 to 1 before Dr Fathin Hameedh's. And I must say, hats (and burkas) off to you, madam! You've said it like it is. I'm one of many such who've had a bit too much of the blatant lying and coverups behind these so-called "democratic" parties. I do believe that most of what's been recounted in the article in question spells out the sad and pitiful state of affairs in the DRP. And judging from the comments by readers, I daresay that it's fast being accepted as the "norm" for all political parties and activists. My heart weeps for our poor poor country. May Allah save us from these selfish people.

  19. aha! someone didnt have a happy life in the school band now, did they?? Wanted to be leader, eh?? Couldnt blow a note, eh?? Didnt get, eh??? too too bad... prrrrrrrrpppppp!! hahahahaha.

  20. Shtill waiting to shee what Mishter "Evvesh shuvaaleh neiy" Ahmed T Ali is going to do for the DRP, shince the famous Leadership-on-a-Thabah debacle. Sho far sheen nothing but crying about how much he'sh shpent on the party boohoohoo nobody lovesh me boo hoo hoo hoooooooo

  21. This article sucks.

    There, I've commented. Now who do I call to collect the money I was promised for doing this? Dr Mausoom? Ali Waheed?

  22. Confucius he say: Man who tell others not to speak of democratic values himself has diminished his own value.

  23. Who's the idiot who thinks we r still the opposition? ..hassan sappey where were u when we won? busily mudslinging? u make me embarassed to be a hassan. i think u r actually ali waheed

  24. @Gomez: Good one man! was the prrrrp emitting from shomebody while he tried out for the band? kekekekkekeke

  25. I applaud Faathin. Of course, she would have deliberated the political consequence of making the above public statement but she is a woman of tremendous intelligence, which from my viewpoint, was never really acknowledged at certain policy-level discussions within the DRP. The DRP lacks internal democracy, a clear and unambiguous set of views and ideals for its supporters to espouse and a commitment towards democracy. There is no doubt that Fathin would be aware of and expecting the eventual fallout with the party. What remains to be seen is what move she plans to make next.

  26. no matter how sum ppl shout and distort facts...fact is, maumoon got over 90% every time for 6 terms... even annie who rigged the last votes cudnt get even close hahahahahahahahaha....learn the trade man, learn the trade....hahahahahahaha


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