Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son cannot represent the Progressive Party of Maldives in the upcoming all-party talks, Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan insisted Wednesday, criticising the PPM leader for refusing to seek approval from the party’s council.
“This is an international meeting. It is mediated by a UN envoy. The person who has to say yes or no on such important matters must be someone endorsed by the party’s council,” Nihan told reporters after a meeting between the PPM parliamentary group and President Abdulla Yameen.
Gayoom last week rebuffed the government’s demand for governing councils to approve representatives for the talks. The PPM council will remain suspended until Yameen loyalists apologise for walking out of its last meeting in July, he said.
MPs Asma Rasheed and Mohamed Shujau have since sought his forgiveness. But three PPM MPs who sued Gayoom over the suspension of committees refused to apologise. The case is ongoing at the civil court’s dispute resolution stage.
Nihan, the leader of the PPM parliamentary group, said he led the walk out with Gayoom’s permission after objecting to the presence of MP Faris Maumoon, who he insisted was expelled for voting against a government-sponsored bill.
Gayoom had refused to accept the PPM disciplinary committee’s expulsion of his son citing due process violations. But Nihan said the expulsion stands until the appeals committee reviews the decision.
“The committee will have to decide if he meets the criteria for membership. Until it decides, Faris Maumoon cannot participate in any of the party’s activities,” he said.
Gayoom’s refusal to seek the council’s consent is “contrary to democratic principles,” he added.
Nihan said MPs met Yameen to seek “a way forward” in resolving the dispute between the estranged Gayoom brothers as part of the parliamentary group’s bid to encourage reconciliation.
Yameen told MPs that he is willing to meet with Gayoom, Nihan said.
He added: “I would like to believe that President Maumoon will meet with us as he is the party’s president. If he does not, we would be able to say clearly and our supporters will know that President Maumoon is foregoing some of the things he wants to do to reform the party.”
Gayoom launched an agenda to reform the PPM in July after accusing ruling party lawmakers of facilitating corruption and reversing democratic reforms.
Nihan went on to say that the PPM does not belong to either Gayoom or Yameen. One man cannot override the wishes of the party’s members or its executive council, he said.
“The party has to function. The party is bigger than one person and is made up of a lot of people,” he said.
Despite levelling criticism at Gayoom, Nihan expressed confidence in resolving the factional strife.
The conflict between the half-brothers became public in late June after Gayoom refused to grant Yameen the PPM’s ticket without a presidential primary.
Nihan said a majority of the PPM parliamentary group agrees that Yameen should become the party’s candidate in 2018 “without any obstacles” to seek a second term in office.
Asked about former Home Minister Umar Naseer’s intention to challenge Yameen for the PPM ticket, Nihan said: “Our parliamentary group doesn’t see any reason why anyone should contest President Yameen.”
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