War of words escalate between rival opposition factions

Main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem has accused coalition partner People’s Alliance (PA) Leader Abdulla Yameen of “trying to destroy the DRP”, claiming that his opposition to the government is motivated by a desire to conceal an alleged illegal oil trade worth US$800 million.

At a DRP Galolhu centre opening on Monday night that saw the war of words escalate between the rival opposition factions, the DRP MP for Maafanu West called on Yameen to swear off claiming to hold the government responsible, because “you are more ruthless and a much bigger thief than that.”

“I will dare to say this, you are a much more ruthless and Jewish person,” he continued. “Don’t come in front of us again and say ‘hold the government accountable,’ we know that behind those devious plans lies the matter of that illegal oil trade.”

DRP Deputy Leader Ali Waheed meanwhile told supporters that they “should not run around forever considering any of our political leaders a god.”

“We don’t believe in a tribe, we believe in principle,” said Waheed, adding that origins or family descent did not matter in “today’s political reality”.

The DRP MP for Thoddoo went on to say that people came out to vote in appreciation of Gayoom’s contribution to the nation, “but it does not mean that [Gayoom] should come back, or that you should endorse your brother [Abdulla Yameen].”

In an appearance on private broadcaster Villa TV this week, Yameen defended his party against complaints of PA using the DRP’s name to organise rallies to promote his bid for the presidency.

“If by holding rallies there, Yameen is being promoted, if they accept that reality, then Thasmeen is free to hold rallies every night,” he suggested.

DRP Secretary General Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told press on Monday that the party has officially requested the Maldives Police Service, Male’ City Council and the Elections Commission (EC) to disallow activities held without official approval.

The move comes after the Gayoom faction organised a rally Saturday night in defiance of a council resolution requiring authorisation before using the party’s logo or seal.

Nafiz warned that the party would have to take the matter to court if the authorities proved unable to resolve the dispute.

In a statement from ‘Honorary Leader’ Maumoon Abdul Gayoom read out at the rally, the former President called on the DRP council – which the ‘Gayoom faction’ has boycotted in protest of Thasmeen’s “dictatorial” leadership – to retract its decision to recommend MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, Ahmed Ilham and Gayoom’s lawyer Mohamed Waheed for disciplinary action.

Faced with similar charges that saw Deputy Leader Umar Naseer dismissed in December, Ilham however contends that “a Deputy Leader can be dismissed only if a third of the party’s congress votes to dismiss him.”

At the ‘Thasmeen faction’ rally, Waheed, one of four Deputy Leaders elected at DRP’s third congress last year, derided his former colleagues claiming that “not even ten people in our rival faction’s front rank possess A’ Level certificates, how can they run the country?”

Spilling over

Meanwhile at Monday’s parliament sitting, MPs of the rival factions exchanged heated words and accusations during the debate on an amendment to the Clemency Act.

DRP MP for Mid-Henveiru Ali Azim accused PA MPs of “using another party’s name and its flag” to hold rallies to attack and undermine the DRP leadership.

Azim was cut off by Deputy Speaker Nazim – presiding over the sitting in the absence of Speaker Abdulla Shahid – who advised the MP to stick to the topic.

Picking up where Azim left off, Ali Waheed raised the issue of appointing a new Auditor General, a post that has remained vacant for a year.

“Are you afraid [to appoint an Auditor General]? What are you afraid of?” Waheed asked the PA Deputy Leader. “Shouldn’t you appoint one [by now] if you’re not afraid of the US$800 million oil and the flags?”

In March 2010, Nazim pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the former Ministry of Atolls Development.

Waheed went on to criticise opposition leaders for being “obsessed with winning power” and “completely lacking sincerity” for solving national problems.

“Opposition parties are attacking Kenereege Mohamed Nasheed. But matters amongst us are worse than Kenereege Mohamed Nasheed, Honourable Speaker,” he said.

Echoing Waheed’s sentiments, Abdulla Abdul Raheem asserted that “you can’t do things in this country anymore the way US$800 million of oil was illegally traded using STO.”


“I am majority leader now”: Reeko Moosa

The fractured main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is no longer the majority party in parliament with its coalition with minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) on the verge of collapsing, claims ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group Leader “Reeko” Moosa Manik.

“I am very sad that they have broken the coalition,” Moosa told reporters outside parliament today. “They [DRP MPs] have said as much in the media. But they are hesitant to show that in the Majlis registry. They are still waiting. If so, [DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali] won’t be Majority Leader anymore. I am the parliament’s Majority Leader now.”

Of the 77 MPs in parliament, the MDP currently has 33 MPs to the DRP’s 27 and PA’s seven.

The MDP MP for Hulhu-Henveiru suggested that his party’s new majority was evident in this week’s vote on ministerial appointees after Home Minister Hassan Afeef was narrowly approved in spite of the DRP declaring that it would reject three nominees.

Meanwhile PA Leader Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, revealed on private broadcaster DhiTV last week that the party would be reviewing its coalition agreement with the DRP – which “exists only in name” – in light of recent events.

In a move that strained the relationship further, PA Deputy Leader Ahmed Nazim recently sued DRP Leader Thasmeen in Civil Court to recover almost Rf2 million (US$155,000) allegedly owed to him.

Internecine strife

Moosa’s remarks today come a day after DRP Deputy Leader Ali Waheed publicly called upon the party’s council not to “maintain a coalition [with PA] only in name.”

Referring to yesterday’s vote on approving members to the Broadcasting Commission, Waheed alleged that the PA together with the ‘Gayoom faction’ MPs struck a deal with the MDP to vote through an agreed upon list.

Moosa however denied the allegations of collusion with the PA, claiming that “the only deal we will make them is an agreement for a [formal] coalition.”

Yesterday’s parliament sitting grew heated during the vote on members to the Broadcasting Commission when DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf broke the party’s three-line whip on the fifth nominee, prompting Waheed to raise a point of order demanding to know whether the voting machines were malfunctioning.

After repeatedly advising the Thohdhoo MP to take his seat and then ordering him out, Speaker Abdulla Shahid called a short recess when Waheed refused to leave the chamber.

Waheed revealed afterward that three nominees chosen by the DRP were defeated in yesterday’s vote.

The intensifying allegations and counter-allegations highlight the growing distrust between the rival opposition factions, split between supporters of DRP Leader Thasmeen and loyalists of former President Gayoom.

Earlier this week, DRP MP Ali Azim accused the PA and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim of conspiring to send two DRP MPs abroad ahead of Monday’s vote on cabinet appointments.

Gasim told newspaper Haveeru yesterday that he was not obliged to follow the DRP’s whip line, putting the accusations down to “failure to digest their internal problems,” adding that “those feelings are now exploding like a bomb.”

The former presidential candidate asserted that “if we elect a government it should also have a cabinet.”

Gasim had abstained in the vote on Hassan Afeef while he had voted for Transport Minister Adil Saleem.


Parliament approves members to Broadcasting Commission

Parliament approved seven members to the newly-instituted Maldives Broadcasting Commission yesterday, after voting on nominees put forward by President Mohamed Nasheed.

The seven members approved to the commission were Badr Naseer, Aishath Hana, Mohamed Shaheeb, Mariyam Shaugy, Ibrahim Ashraf, Moomina Adam and Abdulla Shujau.