MDP files no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker of the Parliament

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have filed a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker of Parliament and People’s Alliance (PA) MP, Ahmed Nazim.

MDP Parliamentary Group’s Spokesperson MP Mohamed Shifaz confirmed that MDP had filed the motion today.

‘’We have finished all the documentation work and today we handed it to the parliament,’’ said Shifaz.

Shifaz said the party there were many issues with Deputy Speaker Nazim.

‘’First of all, he has many legal cases filed against him in the courts, and there are many issues regarding his integrity,’’ Shifaz said. ‘’Most of the MPs believe that he has to be dismissed. If that happens, it will benefit the work the government is doing to ensure the independence of the judiciary.’’

Shifaz accused Nazim of deliberately delaying work sent to the parliamentary committees in which he has influence.

In retaliation, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) filed no-confidence motions against Home Minister Hassan Afeed and Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz.

Shifaz claimed that although the opposition filed no-confidence motions against the cabinet ministers, they would not be able to get the numbers required to dismiss them.

”They are dreaming if they think they can dismiss any of the ministers,” he claims..

DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf meanwhile said that if parliamentarians continued working like this, the parliament would prove dysfunctional.

‘’We can’t work like this. One day MDP will file a no-confidence motion against the Speaker, the next day the opposition will file a no-confidence motion against a cabinet minister and if it continues like this, parliament’s responsibilities will be left undone,’’ said Mahlouf. ‘’I have decided to speak with the political parties myself to let them know that it is not right.’’

Mahlouf acknowledged that during the recent protests over the economy, some MPs including Mahlouf himself had signed a no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Inaz.

Nazim did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


MDP condemns PA Shareef’s appointment to Elections Commission

)The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has today issued a statement condemning the Elections Commission (EC)’s decision to appoint former Peoples Alliance Party (PA) Secretary General and Spokesperson Ahmed Shareef as the Secretary General of the EC.

‘’MDP believe that anyone appointed for any position at the Elections Commission shall be a person away from influence, independent, fair and a person that would not protect the interest of a specific person,’’ said MDP in the statement.

MDP said it regretted that the commission would appoint a political figure to the commission and condemned the action “in strongest possible terms.”

Former Spokesperson of MDP Ahmed Haleem told Minivan News that ‘’as long as Shareef is in that position, this country can never hold free and fair elections.’’

Haleem said if he remained in the post, it will cause to “violence following future elections as people to question the fairness of the elections.”

‘’He is a person definitely adapted to a political idea and he will have his own interest,’’ Haleem claimed. ‘’The Elections Commission is the commission that has to be most fair and independent.’’

He also said the new President of MDP Dr Ibrahim Didi “will do anything that he has to, to solve this issue.”

Secretary General of EC Ibrahim Shareef told Minvan News that he had resigned from his post in the PA earlier this month and “resigned from politics.”

‘’My position in PA then was not also a political position, it was more an administrative position and it was my job then, I worked there as an employee,’’ Shareef said. ‘’Now I am in a non-political position and I will work independently.’’

Shareef said he was “very confident” that his actions would not be those claimed by the MDP.

‘’I assure the people that my actions will not be like that,’’ he said. ‘’I will follow the EC rules and regulations as well as the constitution and other laws and continue my work sincerely.’’

President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq did not respond to Minivan News at times of press.


Finance Minister walks out of negotiations with “politically influenced” youth

Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz yesterda  walked out of a meeting with several young people claiming to represent the ‘concerned youth’ behind the recent week of violent protests in the capital Male’.

Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) Fazeel Najeeb also attended the meeting.

The faction of the opposition party loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom have maintained that the protests over rising commodity prices were “youth-led”.

‘’I waited in the meeting until we could address the real issues, but they kept on criticising the government policy and some of the government projects,’’ Inaz told Minivan News. ‘’I did not want to have a heated political debate – we went there to negotiate with the youth regarding the dollar issues, not for a political debate.’’

Inaz claimed that the youth delegation included leader of the opposition-allied People’s Alliance (PA) sports wing, and two others he claimed were ‘’new political figures’’ created by senior party officials.

Inaz explained that government needs to find ways to increase its revenue.

‘’Currently 75 percent of the government’s revenue is spent on salaries. The government did try to decrease the salaries but other state institutions did not support the decision,’’ he said. ‘’There are other necessary things to do such as providing electricity, fix sewerage systems and supply water to those in need.’’

Spokesperson from the youth delegation, Mohamed Ahsan, said the delegation was unable to clarify information from the Finance Ministry as the minister left the meeting.

‘’However, the MMA officials were very cooperative,” he said. “We found out that the government have not been implementing the MMA’s suggestions to its full extent,’’ said Ahsan. ‘’The MMA clarified almost all the information we required.’’

He also said the finance minister “took it politically” because a PA member was present at the meeting.

‘’We have decided to recommence the protests, but due to exams we have temporarily delayed it,’’ he said. ‘’Once the examinations are over we will restart the protests.’’

A first round of negotiations held last week were described as “very upsetting” by the opposition’s Gayoom faction after the delegation accused President’s Office represenative Shauna Aminath of stating that the “political solution” to the country’s economic woes was the arrest for the former President.

Shauna did not comment on whether she had suggested Gayoom be arrested, and said the government was unable to officially respond to the delegation because it was unclear who they officially represented.

“We met with four people who claimed to represent youth,” she said. “They presented a piece of paper they said was a youth proposal, but there was almost no discussion of what was on it.

“They talked a little about youth unemployment, and the rising price of milk, cooking oil and petrol. They said that young people did not have enough money to pay for coffees or petrol for their motorbikes.”


PA Secretary General appointed to Elections Commission

The Secretary General of the People’s Alliance (PA), the party of the former President’s half brother Abdulla Yameen, has been appointed the General Secretary of the Elections Commission (EC).

Ahmed Shareef Adam was appointed to the post out of 25 applicants who applied.

“Only five applicants fit the criteria devised by the commission. Out of them, one did not fit the criteria already set under the regulation of the commission and another application was withdrawn. So we interviewed only three applications, out of whom Shareef scored the highest and got the job,” the EC’s Executive Director Ismail Habeeb told newspaper Haveeru.

The PA announced that Shareef was resigning from his post at the party following his appointment.


Shops vandalised, police station damaged in third night of violent protests

A third night of violent protests in Male’ ended around 4:00am this morning after the windowpanes of a police station were smashed, shops vandalised and fires started across the city.

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd gathered at the intersection of Male’s main street Majeedee Magu and the tourist strip Chaandhanee Magu, the focal point of the protests so far, after a group of MDP activists arrived and clashed with opposition protesters and young people around 11:30pm.

The two sides were separated by police but continued attacking each other with bricks and bottles. Police appealed for people to leave the area and eventually dispersed the crowd at 12am using tear gas.

“Police dispersed the two crowds using tear gas to minimise the amount of force that would need to be applied,” Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News.

Police, he said, had noticed that “once the criminal activity starts most people leave the protest.”

A group of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists then gathered outside the house of the former President’s half brother, Abdulla Yameen, before being moved on by police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Meanwhile, anti-government protesters gathered outside the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building.

“The opposition [demonstrators] gathered in the area for 1-2 hours and started several fires in the road before they were dispersed with teargas,” Shiyam said. “ Later they attacked a police building in Maafaanu and a police vehicle, vandalised the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) headquarters and set several more fires. They also smashed the window of the STO Home Improvement store. The opposition MPs who had gathered at the MMA building left when vandalism began.”

The remaining crowd kept moving, Shiyam said. “Most of those involved were people known by police to be involved in criminal activities.”

More than 30 people were eventually arrested. Some police officers were injured and police property was also damaged.

“We saw some protesters [hurt] but we received no reports of serious injuries,” Shiyam said.

Of the 52 people arrested for violence the previous evening, whom police claimed were connected to various gangs in Male’, most were subsequently released by the Criminal Court while “12-15” remain in police custody.

The opposition has maintained that the demonstrations against the government’s decision to implement a managed float of the rufiya are led by youth unhappy with rising commodity prices, despite the active involvement of dismissed opposition Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, and MPs Ilham Ahmed, Ahmed Mahlouf, Ali Waheed, and Ahmed Nihan.

The government has meanwhile accused former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s faction of the opposition of instigating and organising the protests.

“The government understands that many people are concerned about the economy and recent price rises and we are doing everything possible to ease the situation,” the President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said in a statement.

“Peaceful protest is legal and welcome in the Maldives’ new democracy. But former President Gayoom is taking advantage of economic situation to cause violence in the streets. These protests are more to do with Gayoom trying to shore up his position in the opposition, than the state of the economy,” he claimed.

“In the Middle East, you have democrats on the streets bringing down dictatorships. Ironically, in the Maldives, the remnants of the former dictatorship are trying to bring down democracy.”

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) meanwhile issued a press release urging people not to misuse the right to protest “and obstruct the media.”

The commission said that protesting late at night in densely populated areas “violates the right of many others.”

”We call on the police not to disperse the protests by using methods that harm the protesters and civilians,” HRCM said.

At a press conference today, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan said protests would be restricted to the artificial beach and the tsunami monument areas in Male’, unless prior permission was given by police or Male’ City Council.

The government meanwhile defended its decision to float the currency within 20 percent of the pegged rate of Rf12.85 “as part of a package of measures introduced on the advice of the central bank, International Monetary Fund and other multi lateral organisations, in order to reduce the country’s budget deficit and stabilise the economy.

“According to the World Bank, in late 2008 the Maldives was in the worst economic situation of any country undergoing democratic reforms since 1950s. The budget deficit stood at 31 percent of GDP, inflation stood at 12 percent and the economy was reeling from a massive fiscal expansion which saw the government wage bill increase by almost 400 percent between 2004 and 2009.

“Since coming into office, the Nasheed administration has reduced the budget deficit from 31 percent to 16 percent of GDP, helped ease the chronic dollar shortage through a managed float of the Ruffiya and brought the economy from recession to 4 percent growth this year,” the President’s Office said in a statement.

The IMF has pressured the government to cut back on its disproportionate public sector wage bill, however austerity measures attempted last year ended up in a political stalemate and the government instead embarked on a program of corporatisation, allowing it to hire and fire while circumventing what it claimed was the opposition-driven machinations of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Opposition spokesman Ibrahim Shareef has accused the MDP of financial mismanagement and recklessly increasing spending, without investing “in productive resources that ensure future revenue for the country, and reducing expenditure in areas that do not affect the people – such as foreign missions.”

“They need not reduce the civil service, because these are the lowest paid government employees and reducing their numbers would have not tangible effect. But the top players in government – the political positions – and positions in the paper companies created by the government are many areas [that can be reduced],” Shareef claimed.

The government recently announced an incentive programme to encourage public sector employees as young as 18 to leave the civil service, offering lump sum payments of between Rf 150,000 – Rf 200,000, which was positively received by the CSC.


Deputy speaker would “welcome” heightened transparency in the Majlis

Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Ahmed Nazim has claimed that he would welcome moves to promote transparency in the People’s Majlis, such as revealing the financial assets of MPs to the public, but added similar commitments would also be needed from the country’s judiciary and executive.

Speaking to Minivan News earlier this week, Nazim, who is also a serving member of the People’s Alliance (PA) party and the Majlis’ Public Accounts Committee, said he would “fully support” any initiative to improve the image of parliament such as providing details of the property and assets of MPs. However, the deputy speaker said he believed that the appointment of an auditor general, a position that has been vacant since March 2010 when Ibrahim Naeem lost a parliamentary no-confidence motion by 43 votes to 28, was needed to oversee such a process.

The claims were made as debate over whether MPs should publicly declare details of their assets and income was found to have reached an impasse, with opinion divided in the Majlis over whether doing so was a constitutional necessity.

The issue had also been raised by the political NGO, Transparency Maldives, which claimed that it was having difficulties in getting details on the assets and financial status of MPs despite parliament showing a generally more open attitude to supplying information.

The NGO, which operates a project called Parliament Watch alongside the Maldivian Democracy Network, believes that the right of the public to know the financial details of their elected representatives in the Majlis was “in the spirit” of the constitution. Transparency Maldives added that it believed that transparency within the actions and decision making of parliament had nonetheless improved in recent years despite possible concerns about MP finances.

Although the decision for public declarations of MPs’ financial statements was rejected this week, parliament also failed to agree to two additional recommendations that financial statements should be released only under a court order or to the public upon investigations by state institutions.

On Tuesday (April 19), Nazim in his capacity as deputy speaker of the Majlis, said the matter had been declared “void” on the basis that neither proposal was accepted by MPs, but he added that parliament’s Secretary General had sought counsel on the matter and would go ahead according to the “rules of procedure”.

Speaking before the vote, Nazim said that the issue had been sent to parliament by the Majlis’ secretary general over concerns about an isolated issue raised by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in requiring the financial statements of one unidentified MP.

Under present standing orders that outline parliament procedure, the deputy speaker claimed that sitting MPs were required to provide information to the Majlis by the end of October each year detailing their annual finances between the twelve months from May 29 to May 28.

Nazim said that amidst the ensuing debate over whether these statements should be made freely available to the public, the decision to do would definitely serve to “improve the image of parliament.”

While provisionally welcoming the initiative, Nazim claimed that he believed the Majlis would only public release details of their financial status alongside a similar commitment by judges and senior cabinet ministers.

“It would be for the auditor general to collect this [financial] information from cabinet ministers, judges and government members,” he said, accepting that the position had been vacant for more than 12 months.

“No [financial] information has been put into the public domain, once this happens the Majlis would consider following suit.”

Presidential Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News that ultimately, the decision on whether to make the financial statements of MPs available to the public was down to parliament itself and not related to the government.

“It all depends on how transparent they [parliament] wish to be,” he claimed. “There are opportunities to be accountable, yet holding back on these details might lead to allegations [of possible corruption].

When asked whether cabinet member were themselves considering or already required to reveal details of their earnings and assets, Zuhair added that the issue related to a very different kind of social contract that they were bound to.

“Government employees are banned from working in the public sector or within any positions that might create a conflict of interest,” he added.

Aiman Rasheed, Projects Coordinator for NGO Transparency Maldives, claimedthat MPs were generally operating in a much more transparent manner during the current parliament.  However, he added that while parliamentarians were not required to supply their financial statements to the public, choosing to do so would be more in the spirit of the constitution.

Through its work on the Parliament Watch project, Rasheed claimed that at present NGOs like Transparency Maldives were finding it very difficult to know which MPs submitted their financial statements to the Majlis by the required deadline of October, with requests for a detailed list of members still not being met.

“There is obviously a lot of discomfort about this in the Majlis,” he said. “But for the most part, documents [relating to MPs] are available. As far as we are concerned this parliament is really open.”

Despite welcoming possible improvements in the transparency of the Majlis, Rasheed said that the Parliament Watch project would be releasing a report in the next few months detailing its findings in trying to bring greater scrutiny to parliamentary records in relation to members’ attendances and work rates.

However, amidst the debates over public accountability in the Majlis, a number of MPs have raised criticisms of the role of media in shaping public perceptions of parliament and its work.

(Maldivian Democratic Party) MP “Reeko” Moosa Manik said this week that while he agreed with the constitutional principle of publicly declaring assets and wealth, it was not an advisable time to do so in “today’s political atmosphere.”

The MDP parliamentary group leader remains embroiled in an acrimonious feud with private broadcaster DhiTV, owned by business magnate “Champa” Mohamed Moosa.

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed concurred with Moosa, claiming that parliament should be concerned about concerted efforts by some media outlets to “disgrace and humiliate MPs.”

“This is not being done by DhiTV’s owner or its management, we know that now,” he said. “But previously we believed that it was planned and carried out by the management there. But that is not the case.”

Echoing a claim made by several MPs in past weeks, Riyaz alleged that unsuccessful candidates for parliament and their family members or associates were behind hostile media coverage of parliament.

“In truth, when the financial status of MPs is made known, some MPs will be worried and others will embarrassed,” said minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur.

“That is, those who have a lot of money might be very worried and those who do not will be embarrassed. Therefore, at a time when our status is being revealed in the media, I don’t accept at all that these facts should be available to just anyone.”

Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile argued that MPs should not shirk from their constitutional responsibilities by blaming the media. “We will answer in the media to the things said in the media,” he said.

Along with debates over accountability, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom claimed yesterday that despite the cancellation of a scheduled meeting in the Majlis’ main chamber , work was still ongoing in the parliament, which he believed was playing its part in pushing legislation to allow law enforcement officials to deal with violent crimes, despite certain “public perceptions” to the contrary.

The opposition party MP claimed that parliament was stepping up its workload to ensure the government, as the country’s executive branch, had the right powers and capabilities to uphold the law.


PA now welcoming DRP supporters to its ranks

The People’s Alliance (PA) has said it would welcome registered members from fellow opposition groups like coalition partner the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – currently embroiled in factional infighting – as it seeks to boost its support-base over the next year.

Party registrar Hiyaly Mohamed Rasheed told Minivan News that after agreeing though a council meeting back in 2009 to not take members from the DRP due to a coalition agreement between them, the group was now looking to bolster its current tally of 2,751 registered supporters from “all across the Maldives”.  He claimed this membership drive would now also include members from the DRP, which is the country’s main opposition party and headed by MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

The DRP has in recent months become embroiled in a bitter war of words between serving leader Thasmeen and his predecessor and former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The split between the two men and their respective supporters is reportedly linked to the party’s dismissal of former deputy leader Umar Naseer by its disciplinary committee last December.

Just last week, the DRP’s Council announced it had take the decision to forward a number of party members including DRP MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, DRP Deputy leader MP Ilham Ahmed and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s lawyer Mohamed Waheed to the party’s disciplinary committee.

The decision against the three men was taken over allegations that they had misled the public over the work and reputation of Thasmeen to further the interests of the so-called  Z-DRP faction said to support Gayoom.

MP Ilham claimed at the time that the DRP charter did not allow the party’s leader to dismiss anyone who criticises them.

”The charter states that a deputy leader can be dismissed only if a third of the party’s congress votes to dismiss him,” Ilham said. ”There will be internal disputes in political parties, but this is not how to solve it.”

Thasmeen was unavailable for comment when contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press.

DRP “Problems”

Howver, the PA registrar claimed that the reports of DRP infighting had the potential to negatively set back wider political opposition in the country.

“I was once in the DRP,” Rasheed said. “Yet now the DRP has itself decided that there are two factions in the party, that means that it currently has problems,” he added.

The claims have been made as the PA announced that more than 100 people were registered as party members on Friday (April 15) as part of attempts to overtake the religious Adhaalath Party as the country’s third most supported political group. The PA is led by Abdulla Yamin, half brother of former President Gayoom.

Speaking to Haveeru yesterday, Mohamed Rasheed claimed that the PA was now working to almost double its membership base to 5,000 people by next month. Rasheed said he hoped the drive would bring the PA closer to matching the Adhaalath Party in terms of the size of support, which it estimates amounts to about 6000 members at present.


MDP dismisses rumours of DRP MP Mahlouf defecting to MDP

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi has denied that leader of the opposition’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Youth Wing, MP Ahmed Mahlouf, has signed to join MDP, after rumours to that effect began circulating yesterday.

Mahlouf yesterday broke the three line whip of his party and voted with MDP, sparking rumors that Mahlouf had signed with the ruling party. Former DRP MP Alhan Fahmy controversially switched to the MDP last year prior to facing his party’s disciplinary committee over voting against the party line on the dismissal of then Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmed Shaheed.

The Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) yesterday reported that Mahlouf had signed to MDP, after the incident.

MDP’s official website quoted Mariya as saying that the rumor was spread by DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s faction after Mahlouf broke the party’s three line whip in a vote taken by the parliamentarians to appoint members for the Broadcasting Commission.

”Mahlouf has always had a close relationship with some of the senior members of the MDP. But the news that he had signed to join MDP is just a rumor,” Mariya said according to MDP website.

Mariya said that Mahlouf broke the three-line whip during the vote to appoint his aunt for the Broadcasting Commission, whose name was proposed to the parliament and supported by MDP.

Mahlouf has told Haveeru that he will join MDP only if former President Maummon Abdul Gayoom joined MDP.

After yesterday’s parliament session speaking to the press outside the parliament DRP Deputy Leader MP Ali Waheed has called on DRP Council to terminate the coalition agreement with Peoples Alliance Party (PA).

Waheed claimed that during all the recent votes PA had discussed with the government and voted according to how it will benefit both the government and the PA, ignoring DRP’s side.

He also heavily criticized Mahlouf for voting on MDP’s side.


PA to stick with DRP coalition “for time being” despite internal strife

The People’s Alliance (PA) party has today said it will not look to break from its coalition agreement with the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) as internal divides between its current leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and his predecessor former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom continue to escalate.

The comments were made as newspaper Haveeru today reported that Gayoom had confirmed that under the position of “honorary leader” for the DRP, he would be withdrawing his support for Thasmeen to stand as its 2013 Presidential candidate.

PA Secretary General Ahmed Shareef told Minivan News that reports that the party, led by Gayoom’s half-brother Abdullah Yameen, were set to leave a coalition formed with the DRP were not true, at least for “the time being”.

Shareef confirmed that Yameen had been interviewed on television yesterday evening to state his belief that there were concerns among the party’s members about current developments with its coalition partner.

However, after the DRP last month announced it would also be forming a coalition agreement with the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) following local council elections, the PA had said it expected continue to collaborate with the party on opposition issues.

Neither DRP leader Thasmeen or representatives for Gayoom were able to confirm reports that Gayoom would no longer be supporting the serving leader to become Maldivian president in 2013.

However, one serving MP said that Gayoom’s reported snub of the current party leader was not surprising in light of divides within the DRP between supporters of the current and former party leaders.

Gayoom had originally appointed Thasmeen as his successor following his retirement from active politics last year, however both men have since become aparent figureheads for two different factions that have formed in the party.

This split between Thasmeen and a faction consisting of dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and a number of serving party members has engulfed the party since December.

However, despite being dismissed from the DRP, Umar Naseer and a number of party MPs said to support him campaigned alongside former President Gayoom during a tour of a number of islands ahead of last month’s local council elections.

The last few weeks have seen this in-party feuding extended to a war of words between Thasmeen and Gayoom himself, with the former president last week putting his name to a twelve page document attacking his sucsesor for ruling in a “dictatorial” manner.

A number of DRP members contacted by Minivan News today either refused to comment on the media reports concernings Gayoom’s comments, or said they had not as yet been made officially aware of a statement on Thasmeen’s presidential ambitions, beyond what had been reported in Haveeru.

Speaking to Minivan News today, DRP MP Ahmed Nihan that he had not received any confirmation of whether Gayoom had retracted his support of Thasmeen possibly succeeding President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to lead the country. Nihan added though that he did not believe it was out of the question.

“I have not heard anything about what has been said outside of the meida. Given recent circumstances in the party this is expected though,” he claimed.

According to Nihan, core supporters of the DRP had been taken the issue of leadership to the media over concerns said to relate to Thameen’s questioning of the role Gayoom played in the party under the title of its ‘honorary leader’.

The DRP MP added that the reported end of Gayoom’s support for Thameen’s potential future presidential ambitions was “an outcome” of people trying to downplay and even omit the role Gayoom held as the party’s founding figure and one time leader.

“Some people are suggesting that Maumoon [Gayoom] only holds a symbolic position in the party,” he said. “Anyone who knows the DRP knows it was created on the basis of gayoom’s work and ideas. He is the DRP’s founder.”

Nihan claimed that the burden now lay on general members of the party to air their dissatisfaction against the party’s current leadership where possible to show support for Gayoom’s position within the party.

“I don’t think any DRP member would have expected this [divides in the party] to have happened a few years ago,” he said. “But, I think a large proportion of the party, perhaps some 80 or 90 percent of DRP members would be in support of Maumoon.”

Nihan last week said that he believed the DRP in its current form was “disintegrating” and was almost certain to split into different political bodies.

However, DRP MP Rozaina Adam said at the time that according to the party’s rules, former President Gayoom’s position as ‘Honorary Leader’ did not give him a say in the political running of the party.

“The political leader of the party is Thasmeen. He is the one who is legally responsible for the actions of the party. It is the DRP Council that votes on a course of action, not former President Gayoom,” Rozaina said.

She speculated that much of the tension within the party revolved around the Council’s decision last year to send former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer to the party’s disciplinary committee, which made the decision to remove Naseer from the DRP.

“It was the Council that voted to send Umar Naseer to the disciplinary committee, which made a decision regarding the issue, not Thasmeen himself,” Rozaina said, adding that it was doubtful whether Thasmeen even had the authority to change the decision of the committee.

The DRP had a review committee, Rozaina said, “but Umar did not even apply for that. Instead he went and complained like a little boy to Mr Gayoom, to try and get him to change the decision.”

A split was looking inevitable, she suggested.

“Right now it looks like we are heading towards that. A lot of members in the Gayoom faction have been talking about creating a new party. It probably will split – I don’t see us getting along or working together.”