The civil court has confirmed that the leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) Abdulla Yameen has filed a court case against Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, the recently elected leader of PA’s coalition partner, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
The court said the case was regarding ‘debt collection’, but was unable to reveal the amount being sought. The case was filed on 31 Jan and the submission fee paid today, the court stated, adding that a judge would now be assigned to the case and a hearing scheduled.
Yesterday Yameen spoke to newspaper Miadhu claiming the elections process within the DRP was “not free and fair”, and that it was undemocratic that the party’s leader should be automatically selected without an election. Miadhu noted that Yameen’s own party had elected him as leader uncontested.
Yameen said today that the court case was “a civil case with no bearing on a political arrangement”. He said he “wished the coalition well” and did not want anyone “especially the media” to politicise the matter.
In late December Yameen denied that the relationship between the two coalition parties was strained, telling Miadhu that any problems within the coalition were the “wishful thinking” of the MDP.
DRP member Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef said while he assumed the issue of the court case between the two leaders would be discussed by the party’s council, “this issue does not concern me as a DRP member.”
“The bottom line is that Yameen has filed a case against Thasmeen, not that the leader of the PA has filed a case against the leader of the DRP. It has nothing to do with the parties.”
The coalition agreement, Mundhu noted, was “a parliamentary coalition agreement, not a fully-fledged coalition.”
He said he did not expect the court case to damage the public’s perception of the coalition, an alliance which gave the two parties a working majority in the 2009 parliamentary election.
“We just heard the headline, we’re not sure where its coming from, or why they felt the need to go ahead with a court case,” Mundhu said.
When the Congress meets later this month, “Thasmeen is going to be the leader – that’s basically a fact,” he noted.
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom endorsed Thasmeen as his successor to the DRP leadership during a speech announcing his retirement from politics last week.
DRP spokesman Ibrahim Shareef said the court case “means nothing” and was furthermore “a private matter”.
Yameen’s comments regarding the fairness of the party’s selection of leadership were “his own private opinion”, Shareef stated, and as for the health of the coalition, “there are some difficulties but they are not major concerns.”
Spokesperson for the rival MDP party Ahmed Haleem Zaki speculated that the court case was “politically motivated.”
“Yameen wants to become a leader,” Haleem said. “He has a lot of experience during the last government and is a very qualified guy. He is very educated and has a good mind, and is very determined: he has played a sometimes very dirty role in politics. Thasmeen isn’t popular in the Maldives – he has 6-7 members in parliament, but a lot of financial problems.”
In November last year Thasmeen and several members of his family were questioned by police over issues raised during an audit of the Bank of Maldives (BML).
According to the report by Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem, loans totalling Rf1 billion taken out by Fonadhoo Tuna, a company owned by Thasmeen, and luxury yachting company Sultans of the Sea, connected to the party leader, had yet to see any repayments.
Together the loans accounted for 13 per cent of the total amount loaned by the bank in 2008. Naeem commented at the time that defaults on bank loans issued to “influential political players” could jeopardise the entire financial system of the country.
In early December the civil court ordered Sultans of the Seas to pay over Rf654 million (US$50 million) in unpaid loans, fines and accumulated interest to BML over the course of one year.
Thasmeen had not responded to Minivan News’ requests for comment at time of press.