Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom decided to form a new party because “particular individuals” were not elected to leadership posts at the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Congress in March 2010, and “because they failed to gain control of the party”, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told press today.
Flanked by DRP council members and leaders of coalition partner Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) at a press conference this afternoon, Thasmeen denied the former President’s claim that he was forced to quit the DRP because of a lack of internal democracy and inadequate efforts to hold the government accountable.
The breakaway Z-faction opted to form a new party after “they failed to influence the different organs of DRP,” Thasmeen said, accusing the ‘Zaeem faction’ of undermining the DRP leadership with “baseless allegations.”
“They have not provided any reason for the Maldivian people to believe the allegations made over the past year or so,” he said. “I have definitely never voted against the DRP whip since the party was formed. I have never failed to attend a vote in Majlis for any reason. And I have never failed to say what I must when the current government does something that is detrimental to the people.”
After months of factional strife and a litany of grievances aired in the media, Gayoom withdrew his endorsement of Thasmeen in March this year, accusing his successor of “acting dictatorially” and violating the party’s charter in the controversial dismissal of Deputy Leader Umar Naseer.
On allegations made by Umar Naseer that Thasmeen accepted a US$1 million bribe from Indian infrastructure giant GMR – which took over management of the Male’ International Airport under a concessional agreement last year – the DRP leader noted that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had “investigated thoroughly” and cleared both Thasmeen and Speaker Abdulla Shahid of any wrong-doing.
Thasmeen argued that there was “no reason to accept” the Progressive Party’s claim of “being an exemplary democratic party” as the Z-faction had disregarded the DRP’s charter, openly refused to accept decisions by the party’s organs and “worked in a way detrimental to the party that was worse than our political enemies.”
The minority leader of parliament also noted that the Z-faction had been functioning independently “as a separate party with a separate council, with a separate parliamentary group lately.”
“There’s no reason to believe they can do something they failed to do over the past year with just the name of a political party,” he said, adding that the Z-faction MPs had not informed the public about the shortcomings of the government’s proposed economic reforms.
Thasmeen insisted that “a substantial number of members” would not leave DRP for the Progressive Party: “We are calling the party’s leadership in the islands, the party’s councillors and heads of island branches,” he said. “Based on information we are getting, we are certain that a substantial number of people from DRP will not go to this new party.”
Local daily Haveeru reported today that 500 members have so far applied to leave the party. Thasmeen however expressed confidence that the DRP would remain the largest opposition party.
The DRP leader revealed that the party would conduct internal elections “in the next three months” for DRP island branches or chapters. The elections were last held in 2006.