Gayoom moves to take control of PPM

Gayoom moves to take control of PPM
June 30 02:06 2016

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom appears to be heading for a bitter political showdown with his half-brother and incumbent president, Abdulla Yameen, over a disagreement on controversial changes to the tourism law.

Gayoom, who heads the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, moved to take control of the party from Yameen loyalists, ordering Secretary General Mohamed Tholal to seek his permission before calling meetings of the executive council and other committees, local media report.

The 78-year-old also sent a text message to the party’s deputy leader, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, stripping him of the authority to administer the party, the MP told Sun Online.

The widening rift between the two brothers comes amid mounting opposition to Yameen’s two and a half-year rule. The embattled president is mired in scandal over the theft of US$80million from state coffers.

Former ruling coalition members and former government officials have now teamed up with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party in a coalition to oust Yameen and establish an interim government.

Gayoom recently rejected a petition signed by a majority of the PPM council, including two of his four children, asking him to grant Yameen the party ticket without a presidential primary.

According to both the pro-government website Avas and opposition aligned Raajje TV, tonight’s events follow a complaint filed with the PPM’s disciplinary committee asking it take action against two MPs who did not vote for the changes proposed to the tourism law. The bill, which passed 45-19, authorises the lease of islands for resort development without a bidding process.

Raajje TV said the complaint was filed by Yameen, while Avas said it was filed by other ruling party lawmakers.

Gayoom had appealed to PPM MPs, who hold a majority in the parliament, to vote against the bill suggesting it facilitated corruption. Gayoom’s son, Faris Maumoon was the only PPM MP present in Majlis Wednesday to vote No. MP Ibrahim ‘Waddey’ Waheed reportedly left the parliament house minutes before the vote, Sun Online said.

Some PPM activists have meanwhile taken to Twitter in Gayoom’s defence.

Aminath Nadira, a PPM council member, said she was fired from her post as executive coordinator of the gender ministry tonight, after she tweeted her support for Gayoom’s stand. Nadira was first appointed as a deputy minister, but demoted to executive coordinator last year.

In a subsequent tweet, Gayoom thanked Nadira and all PPM members for “selflessly” serving the party and the country.

The former president of 30 years had previously urged MPs to vote against a government-sponsored constitutional amendment that authorised foreign freeholds in the Maldives for the first time.