CMAG call for CNI review based on incomplete information: Thasmeen

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s calls to review the composition of the Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) are based on incomplete information, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has claimed.

Thasmeen’s comments were made last night during an interview aired on private TV station DhiTV.  During the interview the DRP head also claimed that the CNI investigation into the transfer of power on February 7 needed to be completed before early elections could be held.

CMAG stated Monday it would consider taking “further and stronger measures” against the Maldives government unless it reviewed the CNI composition and mandate within four weeks.  The Commonwealth body also repeated its call for early elections to be held in 2012.

The government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan later responded that although it would work with the Commonwealth over its concerns, it could not constitutionally hold elections until July 2013.  The President’s Office added that further clarification was also required on the nature of the Commonwealth’s concerns relating to the impartiality of the CNI – the body set up to assess the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power on February 7.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which alleges that former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a coup d’état, has rejected the government’s claims.

Ahead of national protests scheduled for tomorrow, the now opposition MDP has claimed that elections could be held within two months without constitutional changes should President Waheed step down.

However, responding in local media to CMAG’s calls, DRP chief Thasmeen alleged that the Commonwealth had failed to conduct proper research before issuing its statement this week.

Thasmeen reportedly added during the televised interview that CMAG had decided the CNI inquiry commission did not have public support having only spoken to select groups of people.

“I was surprised that CMAG said so. How could they assess what the people of the Maldives think? Talking to a select few on their visits is not enough to determine that,” Haveeru reported the DRP leader as saying.

The CMAG must also provide further details on the measures the government is to take to ensure CNI’s independence, Thasmeen added.

“We don’t understand what they want to convey. They point out that the inquiry commission is not independent but they don’t specify what needs to be done to make it more independent,” Thasmeen claimed.

Moreover, no organisation can call for early elections until the investigation into the transfer of power is complete, he contended.  Thasmeen added that CMAG could only press for early elections if Commonwealth values had indeed been violated in the transfer of power, but such a conclusion had not yet been established through an investigation, Thasmeen added.

“They cannot set the terms on such requests, and even if they do, it is not on the hands of the government to organise an early election.  An early presidential election can only be held after revising the constitution,” he said.

When contacted by Minivan News, Thasmeen said he was unable to comment further at the time.

Resignation calls

In addressing both the DRP and government response to CMAG’s calls, MDP spokesperson MP Imthiaz Fahmy said early elections were possible without constitutional amendments.

Famhy claimed that under the constitution, if President Waheed resigned, Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid would become head of state, a development requiring fresh elections to be held within two months.

Otherwise, “political parties will need to come to an arrangement to agree that a 2012 election will elect the president for a five-year term,” Fahmy added.

“We are asking them for a date. Once a target date is set, then we can make all the necessary arrangements. A date is the test of their sincerity” he said.


“Whenever I started something you guys obstructed me”: resort owner Shiyam argues with Gasim in leaked audio

Local newspaper Haveeru has published an audio recording on its website of a dispute between Independent MP Ahmed ‘Sun’ Shiyam and leader of the Jumhoory Party (JP) ‘Burma’ Gasim Ibrahim, both also resort owners.

In the audio clip, Shiyam alleges that whenever he started a business, Gasim and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, when they were in cabinet, obstructed him.

Shiyam also alleges that all the rights to do business were given to Gasim and Thasmeen at the time, and complains that he did not have similar rights.

He also reminds Gasim of the things former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had done to Gasim. However, Gasim replies that he only accepted the position of finance minister under Gayoom after the former president begged him to accept it.

Ahmed Shiyam: If Maumoon has done the things that he did to Gasim to me, today also I would have been behind him.

Gasim Ibrahim: Shiyam is going crazy. What has Maumoon done for me?

Shiyam: What hasn’t he done for you? He let you sign the Maldivian currency, he appointed you as the Finance Minister.  So what hasn’t he done for you?

Gasim: That’s what you think.

Shiyam: He made you the Speaker of the Special Majlis.

Gasim: Hey let me tell you, only those who know it knows it Shiyam. Although you were near [Gayoom], you do not know it right.

Third voice: He [Gasim] was jailed [by Gayoom].

Shiyam: Why was [he] jailed? Because he brought the 12th and 13th [Black Friday, a crackdown on a protest in 2004 by the National Security Service].

Gasim: Who was it that brought the 12th and 13th? Shiyam you are not ready to come out and talk about politics. [People laugh]

Gasim: I did everything for Maumoon after he begged me. He took me to the President’s Office for five days in July 2005. Ask that Mohamed Hussain how many times [Gayoom] called me to offer the [finance] minister’s position on July 26, independence day?

But I said ‘no, no I don’t want it’. [He offered me] the minister’s position. I said I did not want it, I did not want itat all. That was after I came out of jail. I said I did not want it, I wanted to work for reform.

After I returned Dr Hassan Saeed [then Attorney General], Dr Ahmed Shaheed [then Foreign Minister] and Justice Mohamed Jameel [then Justice Minister] were always around me. The President’s two [sons or daughters] came to my house and waited for four or five hours on different days to talk to me. When I couldn’t get rid of them I said I had two obligations for them: one was to continue the reform. I knew they wouldn’t spare me and even if I got a little bit away from it they would get rid of me.

I know it because I know who they are. So I said there are two conditions: one is to continue the reform agenda and that if they stopped it, I would leave them immediately. The other is to keep all the staff of the Finance Ministry without moving them elsewhere, as I know how their agenda will be. So [I told them] if it went to the worst case I am not a well-educated person so I will need educated people and I have a brain so I know how to do it.

I told them that the staffs should be there the way I want, and after they pledged to fulfill the both conditions I said all right, I will accept your offer. My friends at the that time told me not to do it, the country’s situation is like this and that but I did not listen to them. Two of my friends told me like that but I did not listen to them. Why did I go? I did not join them because I wanted to do many things, there would be nothing that I did when I was there or nothing that I gained.

Shiyam: I believe that when you people were in the cabinet, while Gasim and Thasmeen was in the cabinet, the rights given to citizens to do business was given all to them and whenever I started something you guys obstructed me.

Gasim: You have such a crooked mind Shiyam.

Shiyam: No this is just experience.

Gasim (furious): We don’t care about you man. You know we don’t care about you. Who are you? This man always comes up with something like this. You can’t do everything you want, there are laws and principles.

Shiyam: You did not do everything according to the laws and principles. You did not have your lands and things according to the laws and principles.


Protests to continue until date given for early elections: Nasheed

Yesterday’s large anti-government protests ended peacefully in the early hours of the morning, and look set to continue for a second day.

Demonstrators danced into the night as a bodu beru band played, and were joined by a number of elderly women. Police kept a low profile.

Amid the yellow banners, capes, badges and bandanas of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters, were a noticeably large number of the formerly politically un-engaged, most of them young. Many said they were joining or had already joined the MDP, and there were reports that the party had temporarily run out of application forms.

“We never used to discuss politics around the dinner table,” one yellow-shirted demonstrator, previously unaffiliated with any political party, told Minivan News. “But after I was beaten [by police] on Wednesday, my whole family – sisters, cousins – have joined the MDP.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed took the podium shortly after midnight, stating that all-party talks were scheduled for Sunday to decide a date for an early presidential election. He said he was confident a date would be set before Parliament resumed on March 1.

Nasheed – who said he was forced to resign under duress in a bloodless police and military coup d’état February 7 – said people had stood up against the 30 year regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom because of the inhumane treatment people suffered at its hands and had witnessed, a day after the first democratically-elected government was overthrown, a brutal police crackdown on the people who protested against the coup.

“I was repeatedly asked to unlock the arsenal and if so the mutinous police officers would have been easily arrested. But I was not elected to hurt the people of this country,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed explained that for a while after the coup he was “unable to get out of Muleeage [the President’s residence]” and was not able to call anyone to explain what had happened.

“The international community had not received word of the coup as I was unable to leave Muleeage,” he said. “It took some time for them to realised that the information they had been receiving was not genuine, and by then some had urged us to join this illegal government. But I have now informed them of the real situation.

“The coup leaders did not conceive of or anticipate the people’s reaction to the change in government,” Nasheed added.

They believed, he said, that they could consolidate their hold on power “by arresting me after the coup and beating members of the MDP and the Maldivian people into submission.”

He added the public, who had been “nurturing the country on the path to freedom”, were not willing to recognise as legitimate a government they did not elect.

The “peaceful political activity” would continue until a date for early elections was announced, Nasheed said, urging people to return the following day.

“People can swim, play sports, music and give political speeches here. Our aim is to gather people from all over the nation,” he said.

Following talks with India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Thursday, Nasheed said Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government was supposed to announce early elections on Friday night, after which other parties, MDP and Nasheed were to welcome it.

The announcement did not come, except for a vague press conference by new Attorney General Azima Shukoor. The all-party discussions have been set for Sunday.

MDP’s President, former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, said that Maldivians had voted for the MDP’s manifesto for five years, “and hence the rule of this party should remain even now. That is why we are pressing for an election and by the grace of God it will be achieved.”

Dr Didi claimed that Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DRP), the second largest party in the Maldives and the subject of an acrimonious split with Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) last year, had “given the green light” for early elections.

A statement on the DRP website said the party “welcomes and supports this important initiative because we value the importance of strengthening the democratic foundations of the Maldives and the restoration of peace and calm amongst our people. We believe this initiative would help to further strengthen the role of independent institutions in the Maldives and prevent serious distruptions to economic development and prosperity.”

“In supporting this initiative the DRP is willing to participate in a dialogue among all relevant political parties regarding the holding of early elections as stipulated in the roadmap. The DRP would also extend its cooperation in carrying out any necessary amendments to the constitution in order to facilitate such an election.”

Dr Mustafa Lufty, Chancellor of the Maldives National University, former Education Minister and one of the founding members of President Waheed’s Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP), also addressed the crowd.

“Pointing a gun at the head of our beloved president and forcing him to resign is the same as pointing a gun at all of us,” Luftee said. “If we give up now generations to come will have to live at gun point.”

“I came here today because I could no longer bear this travesty.”

“This has been carefully planned. One plan was to force Nasheed to resign and if he did not, then the arsenal would have been opened for the opposition. That would have meant major bloodshed and military rule – they would have kept the country under such rule for a long time. Nasheed was wise enough to step aside and save the country from a massive tragedy.

“The second plan was to arrest Nasheed when he resigned, which would prompt his supporters to take matters into their own hands giving an excuse to beat them down. They would have charged us under terrorism.

“Freedom is a god given right of every human being and must not be violated under any circumstances,” he said.

Mathai had endorsed a ‘road map’ backing early elections “as soon as feasible”, and said at a press conference that MDP had as a result been “reconsidering” Friday’s demonstrations.

In a statement yesterday from the President’s Office, Dr Waheed said he was “disappointed” with Nasheed’s decision “to go ahead with his demonstration in Male’ today despite assurances and promises that were given to the Indian Foreign Secretary Mathai yesterday that it would be cancelled and a smaller meeting will be held in its place.”

Dr Waheed said MDP’s claim that he had not respected agreements reached in the Indian-mediated negotiations was “a completely untrue and irresponsible suggestion”.

“I can understand whilst it is easy to march your forces to the top of the hill, it is much harder to march them down again. I also understand that at this critical juncture in our country’s history that showing strong leadership can be challenge. But I’m hopeful that Mr Nasheed can show the good judgement in the future that will be necessary to make the road map a reality. It’s the very least that the people of the Maldives deserve,” he said.

Meanwhile, a member of yesterday’s crowd told Minivan News that he was “proud of everyone who came today in spite of intimidation by the military and the PPM rumor mill warning of large-scale violence. Not to mention whatever lies the media axis of evil is spewing. A lot of people were apparently scared off.

“A friend I met there who had sat in the square with Anni in 2005 said he didn’t think we’d have to do it all over again. I always tell people that the post-2003 pro-democracy movement separated the conscience-challenged cowards from those who value justice and were willing to fight for it. People are clearly not scared anymore.

“It wasn’t that long ago that they got the courage to paint their houses yellow in defiance of Gayoom. Today they are willing to wave a yellow flag under a military government.”

Time lapse footage of the crowds:

Bodu beru in the evening:


High Court warns of in absentia verdict after MPs fail to show

The High Court yesterday warned that it would issue a verdict in absentia in the appeal of a Civil Court order for Mahadhoo Investments to repay a Rf600 million (US$39 million) loan to Bank of Maldives if representatives of the company fail to appear for the next hearing.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that according to presiding Judge Abdulla Hameed, the last hearing on Thursday was cancelled at the company’s request and rescheduled for yesterday.

The company and its guarantors – Alifushi MP Mohamed Nashiz, brother of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, DRP MP for Mid-Henveiru Ali Azim and Ahmed Rasheed of Maafannu Rafeeguge – had appealed a Civil Court verdict ordering the company to repay the loan.

The High Court judge reportedly said yesterday that he did not wish to dismiss the case as the court had neared a verdict. If the case is rejected without a verdict, the company could file it again.

BML lawyer Mazlan Rasheed argued that the bank would face more difficulties in getting the loan payment if the court dismissed the case.


Opposition launches campaign against income tax

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) launched “a special campaign” yesterday against the introduction of a personal income tax in the Maldives.

Speaking at a press conference at private broadcaster DhiTV, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that “the purpose of our campaign is to undertake efforts to inform citizens as broadly as possible of the effect of [the introduction of income tax].”

“Considering the state of the country today, economic growth has been considerably stalled,” he said. “The base for income tax – the tax base – is very small. If you look at the tax brackets, the number of people who have to pay income tax is very low. This is because our development has not reached that level and most citizens are not wealthy. This is something we have to consider before introducing such a tax.”

The consequences of levying a personal income tax under the prevailing economic circumstances would be reduced investment, slowed economic growth and worsening unemployment, Thasmeen argued.

As the number of people who earn Rf150,000 (US$9,700) a month are quite few, said Thasmeen, an additional tax burden would discourage them from investing and incentivise down-sizing or cost-cutting measures, such as layoffs, in their businesses.

In August, the party issued a booklet titled “DRP’s response to the government’s economic nuisance package” noting that all citizens would have to file tax returns.

“The charts of the government’s fiscal and economic nuisance package show Rf300 million will be received in 2012 from income taxes and 475 million in 2013,” it reads. “Instead of making all citizens file tax returns in order to earn 475 million two years after taxes are introduced, it would be far better to reduce the government’s useless expenditure by that amount.”

Thasmeen meanwhile asserted that administrative costs for collecting the income tax would be prohibitive: “MIRA [Maldives Inland Revenue Authority] has not revealed the figures yet, but we believe that will be a surprisingly high amount,” he said.

Following a meeting with Thasmeen in August to discuss the government’s economic reform bills currently before parliament, President Mohamed Nasheed told press that the minority leader of parliament had expressed concern with the personal income tax.

While the government was open to suggestions of lowering or reviewing the proposed tax rates, Nasheed said at the press conference following the meeting that financial experts had advised the government that an income tax was necessary for the tax regime to function as a whole.

Progressive taxation

Presenting the draft income tax legislation to parliament on July 18, MP Ilyas Labeeb of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said that the purpose of the economic reform package was shifting away from custom duties in favour of direct taxation in the Maldives for the first time.

“Income tax will be taken from individuals whose total monthly income from their salary or other sources exceed Rf30,000 (US$1,900),” Labeeb explained. “The tax will be taken from income above that amount.”

All citizens and non-citizens who earn their income in the Maldives will be eligible for the tax. For naturalised citizens and residents, income earned abroad will be taxable as well.

Ilyas explained that the income tax would be progressive and divided into five tax brackets, whereby people with higher income would pay higher rates.

The tax rates are set at three percent for monthly incomes between Rf30,000 to Rf40,000; six percent for incomes between Rf60,000 and Rf100,000; nine percent for incomes between Rf100,000 and Rf150,000; and 15 percent for Rf150,000 and higher.

The legislation specifies 15 sources of income that would be considered taxable, Ilyas continued, while Zakat funds (alms for the poor), pension contributions, interest payments and capital allowance or investment would be exempt from taxation.

Individuals would meanwhile be required to submit an annual personal income tax statement.

If passed, the income tax law will come into effect on January 1, 2012.

Ilyas observed that the introduction of a 3.5 percent tourism goods and services tax (TGST) in January this year had revealed that the country’s GDP per capita was closer to US$4,060 than the previous estimate of US$2,840.

“We learned that the Maldivian economy is such that each citizen should get close to Rf5,000 (US$300) a month,” Ilyas said. “[But] the country’s wealth is shared by disproportionately few people. One in four people do not make even Rf1,000 (US$60) a month.”


DRP requests six month delay for general GST

Main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has sent a letter to the President requesting a six-month delay to the introduction of a 3.5 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) approved by parliament last month.

In his letter, the minority leader noted that according to parliamentary rules of procedure, only the government could submit tax legislation. He urged the government to delay the implementation of the GST to allow businesses enough time to prepare. The General GST is due to come into force on October 2.

Thasmeen argued that a number of citizens could be subject to legal penalties specified in the legislation if they were not provided sufficient information about registering and paying the new direct tax.

In a booklet handed out to media last month titled “DRP’s response to the government’s economic nuisance package,” the party noted that the General GST would affect small businesses such as cornershops, cafes and teashops.

The businesses would “need a lot of preparation” to maintain accounts, install “modern computer systems and hire accountants” as well as provide customer’s statements showing the GST percentage.

Morever, taxing “total value of business transactions” would not be possible with GST at zero percent for some items.

Considering the potential “administrative confusion” and the country’s heavy reliance on imports, the DRP argued that levying a customs duty at the entry point to the country was more effective.

President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News today that the government viewed the DRP as the main opposition party and “gives a high priority to their concerns.”

“But the President has been advised by financial experts that all taxes should be part of one network and it is not sensible to omit one tax for the whole system to work,” he said.

Zuhair noted that “people wanted to delay the introduction of political parties” in the past, adding that “we have lost 30 years without a tax system.”

In May, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a three-year support programme after the government agreed to “a package of policy reforms that will help stabilise and strengthen the Maldives’ economy.”

Under the IMF programme, the government committed to:

  • Raise import duties on pork, tobacco, alcohol and plastic products by August 2011 (requires Majlis approval);
  • Introduce a general goods and services tax (GST) of 5 percent applicable to all sectors other than tourism, electricity, health and water (requires Majlis approval);
  • Raise the Tourism Goods and Services Tax (TGST) from 3.5 percent to 6 percent from January 2012, and to 10 percent in January 2013 (requires Majlis approval);
  • Pass an income tax bill in the Majlis by no later than January 2012;
  • Ensure existing bed tax of US$8 dollars a night remains until end of 2013;
  • Reduce import duties on certain products from January 2011;
  • Freeze public sector wages and allowances until end of 2012;
  • Lower capital spending by 5 percent

Thasmeen warns DRP councillors against helping PPM recruit members

Main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has warned that the party’s island and atoll councillors who help the newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – led by former DRP ‘Zaeem’ or Honorary Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – recruit members will be dismissed from DRP.

Thasmeen told MNBC One today that the party’s charter outlined procedures for disciplinary action against members who violate the charter or party rules and regulations.

PPM Spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahlouf told local media last week that the party would seek to amend the Decentralisation Act to allow councillors to quit their parties without losing their seats.

Thasmeen however said that the law should not be changed merely because it puts the newly-formed party at a disadvantage.

The Decentralisation Act was passed in a completely partisan vote after MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) walked out in protest of the high number of councillors and the committee decision to scrap province councils in the original draft legislation.


Z-faction formed new party “after failing to gain control of DRP”: Thasmeen

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.


Gayoom, Z-faction MPs quit DRP to form new party

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, founder and ‘Honorary Leader’ (Zaeem) of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), resigned his post and left the party today followed by MPs of the DRP’s breakaway ‘Zaeem’ faction.

DRP Media Coordinator Ali Solih confirmed to Minivan News today that apart from Gayoom’s letter of resignation, the party has so far received letters from MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, Ahmed Nihan Hussein Manik and Ali Arif.

The Z-faction began collecting signatures to register a new party last night with Gayoom’s half-brother Abdulla Yameen becoming the first person to sign. Yameen has resigned as leader of minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) and declared his intention to contest in the new party’s presidential primary.

Former DRP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed, who quit the party yesterday, was the second signatory after the MP for Mulaku.

After months of factional strife and a litany of grievances aired in the media, Gayoom withdrew his endorsement of DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali 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.

Of the four deputy leaders elected in its third congress in March 2010, only Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef now remain. Deputy Leader Ali Waheed defected to the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in May.

In his letter of resignation submitted today, Gayoom said he was “forced” to leave the party he had formed on July 21, 2005 because the DRP had become “politically toothless.”

“And you [Thasmeen] keep saying clearly in the media that you do not need my counsel,” reads the letter shared with local media. “The consequence of that was the loss of hope citizens had in this party. And DRP getting the bad name of the party that gives way to the government while remaining in name a responsible opposition party.”

Vili-Maafanu MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that he expects the registration forms to be submitted to the Elections Commission (EC) tomorrow.

“We decided to form this party because found out that we cannot work along with DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and we had difficulties in working within the DRP parliamentary group,” Nihan said. “So the only way we can work in accordance of with our principles is to form a new party.’’

While the Z-faction has been functioning independently of the DRP council since April this year, Nihan added that supporters of former President Gayoom had met him on numerous occasions to request that he create a new party.

“We requested him to change his mind and to form this party many times, but then he did not wanted to form a new party, but we are very grateful that he has now changed his mind and decided to form this party,” he said.

Nihan said the main goal of the party was to return to government by defeating the MDP in the next presidential election.

“Many experienced politicians have expressed interest in this party and have singed to this party, and I was surprised that many MDP supporters as well as many citizens that have never joined a party has signed up,” he claimed.

“It is to be noted that we will go for a primary to elect our presidential candidate, and this is a party open for everyone, the ladders to climb up are open for everyone,” he said.

A name for the new party has not yet been finalised, Nihan said.

Z-faction spokesperson and Galolhu South MP Ahmed Mahlouf meanwhile reiterated that Thasmeen was “making deals with the government.”

Mahlouf called Thasmeen “incompetent and dictatorial,” adding that it was “not possible for anyone to work with him.”

“Thasmeen always put his interest and that of his family and associates above everything else,” he said.

DRP Media Cordinator Ali Solih said Thasmeen will publicly respond to the points raised in Gayoom’s letter.

Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, a member of the DRP council, meanwhile told local media yesterday that the Z-faction’s breakaway activities would see the party “cut up to little pieces.”

Meanwhile President Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said at a press conference today that he doubted whether the former President would attract as much support as he expected.

“Maumoon won’t be able to gather as many members as he expects and I feel that he won’t get the support he expects either,” Zuhair predicted.