Under-fire Thasmeen won’t shift 2012 congress amidst DRP reconciliation attempts

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has questioned calls to bring forward the party’s 2012 congress amidst initiatives designed to end infighting between his own supporters and those of his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Amidst an escalating tensions between Thasmeen and former President Gayoom – the DRP’s honorary leader – a group of party councillors have moved to form committees to try and reconcile divisions that have occurred between the two figures.

Party members critical of Thasmeen’s leadership have said they hope that any potential reconciliation will resolve concerns regarding what they see as the serving DRP head’s failure to adhere to the party’s charter on a number of issues such as dismissing former party member Umar Naseer.

Thasmeen told Minivan News today that from his perspective, he welcomed the possibility of dialogue that served to “strengthen” the party, having nominated three persons to represent him as a committee. The DRP leader added that Gayoom had appointed representatives of his own to take part in the ongoing discussions, which he claimed remained at an early stage and had yet to deal with the key “issues” that had led to divides in the party.

“The talks have not gone far, yet if any good can come of them [for the party], I would welcome that,” he said. “It is too early to say what sort of outcome we are expecting and we would like to see how talks proceed before we make any prejudgments in the media.”

The DRP head added that despite welcoming the talks, he would not concede to calls from some MPs to bring forward the party’s scheduled 2012 congress or hold an extraordinary meeting concerning topics like his leadership. In the last party congress held back in 2010, Thasmeen was anointed by Gayoom as party leader and elected unopposed – the honorary leader’s support has since been revoked on the back of apparent professional animosity between the two men.

“President Gayoom has suggested bringing forward the party congress. Now I have my opinions on this, but I would rather not say them right now,” he said. “The DRP constitution says that a congress should be held in 2012, so why is there a need for this to happen sooner?”

Thasmeen claimed additionally that certain party members had been using the media to attack and cause further divisions within the party and that he wished to avoid making any comments that exacerbated the present situation.

Thasmeen criticism

Ahmed Nihan, a DRP MP allied to a spin-off faction of the party known as the Zaeem-DRP (Z-DRP), which supports Gayoom and dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer in their criticism of Thameen’s leadership, said that a “lot of effort” was taken by general members and councillors to try and bridge divisions within the party.

Nihan said that he rejected the label of the Z-DRP and its description as a political faction as a media invention, adding that initiatives were being taken to resolve differences within the party between Thasmeen and Gayoom, including ending a boycott of DRP council meetings.

“We are still members of the DRP and I have the same rights as anyone else to speak my mind. We are a democratic party,” he said. “As of last night, we have agreed to attend the party’s council for the first time in months and sit down with [Thasmeen].”

According to Nihan, the key objectives for supporters of the so-called Z-DRP movement were to call on Thasmeen to run the party under the rules outlined under the DRP’s charter, something he alleged has not been the case at a time. He claimed this was unfortunate at a time when opposition parties needed to be working closer together to oppose the government.

In outlining areas about Thasmeen’s leadership that concerned him, Nihan claimed that not all had been bought to the attention of the public as yet.

“There are a lot of things Thasmeen has done that we haven’t revealed to the media. These relate not only to Umar [Naseer’s] dismissal, but actions taken afterwards,” he said. “He has tried to expel members of the party who do not agree with his rule. Being the leader he should think of the wellbeing of the party.@