“It is very easy to come and talk to me”: President Yameen on PPM split

“It is very easy to come and talk to me”: President Yameen on PPM split
October 23 14:41 2016

Below is an excerpt from President Abdulla Yameen’s October 20 speech to members of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives

“Our party was set up with a sacred purpose. It was set up to promote the values of peace and order, and to set an example to our citizens. These noble values are included in our party’s charter. I want to tell our party members that it is I who is most unsettled by the turmoil within our party. I also want to say that I firmly believe our problems can be solved through dialogue within the party, through the procedures set within the party. That is how we can become a stronger party, and a model to others. All of the party’s members must have the ability, the will and the courage to do so. We must be able to demonstrate this to the general public, the party’s members, and leaders and members of other political parties and anyone who is interested in joining a political party. There is no reason to hesitate in doing this.

We were able to turn this party into a political platform and assume power because of the trust the people have put in us. It is an honour that Allah has granted us. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of the leaders and members in our party to demonstrate these principles, of peace, progress and development. There must be no difference in bearing this responsibility. The basis of this party, the members, each member is an important member who we trust. So we must be able to solve the problems between us.

When the president of our party was the president of the Maldives, he encouraged us and gave us the opportunity to speak freely. That door started opening and now it has been thrown wide open. The phrase he used at the time was to “crack open the egg and come out”. Our youth and all classes of people have cracked that egg and have come out. So, in any president’s administration, people will say what they think. The People’s Majlis is where we see that in practice everyday. The People’s Majlis is the highest and dignified assembly. Because it comprises of the people’s representatives. It is where laws are made to promote our interests, to lighten the people’s burden and everything to run a state. There is no higher assembly. How do we act in Majlis? If there is something that we do not agree with – I say we because I can still taste it, since I served there for more than 19 years. If there is something that we do not agree with, we leave the Majlis. We know there will be a session, a meeting the next day. We’ve cracked the egg and come out as well. We must have the same patience in our party. If there are matters we don’t agree with, whether its often or rarely, there will be people who will leave the party meeting. That’s a reality that we have to now accept. That is democracy. [Walking out] does not in any way mean disrespect to our honourable president. If there are things that members don’t agree with, [walking out] is a right they have. That is not a reason to stop having a second or a third council meeting. We’ve done a lot of work, you will remember me saying on Eid that I didn’t want to give an Eid gift to MDP, that division within our party is the biggest gift to MDP and everyone against our ideology. So we must resolve these matters.

I want to respond tonight to what has been said, by various people, about me on TV. But I want to say; the president of the PPM is my beloved brother. So I cannot talk ill of him, that’s not something I would do. But believe me when I say, there is no basis, no truth to what people are saying about me. If I issued a response, there can be no one to challenge my response. But since I am the party’s advisor and the president of Maldives, it is not appropriate for someone in my position, as president, to respond to what is said about me by various persons. But what I do want to say is that the people who work with me and the people who work with President Maumoon are well aware that there is a history of disagreements such as these. I will cut it short here.

But I want to stress, there is no truth to what’s being said. Such false stories have been spread on different occasions, during the presidential primaries, during the presidential race, and at various occasions by different people. But I am not in a position to respond to such stories. But I believe that the issues in our party must be resolved. We do not have to seek a remedy from the courts. I know that different council members tried to [find a resolution] through different means. President Maumoon not sitting down with me, or finding it difficult to sit with me, is no reason to forgo talks between our representatives. You have seen on TV, that in my presidency, President Maumoon has visited me, and I have visited him at his office as well to seek opinion on important decisions of the state. And there are reasons why the meetings were interrupted, but I’m not going to share details, that’s not an easy thing for me either.

But according to the constitution, I am the one who will be held responsible for mishaps that may arise in the running of the state. So, while I remain president, all the organs of the party must cooperate with me, without any exceptions. I don’t believe there should be any reason for any party organ not to cooperate with me, especially when I am administering the state according to the party manifesto. It is the party council that must decide if something is being done differently to what was promised in the party manifesto.

It is very easy to come and talk to me. I am the party’s advisor as well. If there is a difference in opinion, I can be summoned to the council. There is still a chance to take that path, today and in the future, in all the past days as well. However, I am not aware of any conflict of government policy from the declared party manifesto. And I haven’t heard of it from the party council. I also check what is on the agenda at council meetings. Nothing like this had happened. So, if there are any problems, the best way is to follow the set procedures. Sticking to those principles is our strength. That’s how we want to set examples to other parties.

Some people in other parties are now living abroad. But everyone on the front lines of our party are here with us, in the Maldives and serving the people of the Maldives. So I still want to say, there is no reason for these problems to be taken to court. But after the party stopped functioning, after a lack of progress, some of the council members decided between themselves, after considering and exploring all other means, to take the matter to court.

What we are seeing today is not easy for our party members to bear, but I want to assure everyone that this is a party built on the principles and the strength of the party’s members. That is how we should go forward. That is the strength of this party and that is the reason people should join this party. This government understands how hard it was for opposition parties under previous government, and this government provides services to all without discriminating between party affiliation. That is the strength of this party. So I cannot accept the presence of two councils within our party. I cannot accept it when parliament members of our party vote against laws proposed by this government. If members vote against the whip-line, disciplinary action will be taken according to rules set by the parliamentary group. Cautionary action will be taken. Action has been taken against members in the past, even if for show or to set examples. Different levels of action against different members. This is done by the disciplinary committee, and if a member is not pleased with such a decision, there’s another stage of appeal. After that, it’s done. This is independent of the party council. PPM is based on such policies.

I want to say to all party members today, the PPM was formed to protest and to challenge MDP’s philosophy, MDP’s policies, their ideologies and the uncivilized ways they brought to this country. That is why I am happy and honored to be a member of this party. None of our members can agree to us joining with the MDP on any matter. We’re seeing that happen today. That is not something we would accept. We will do things our way in our party. I don’t believe that we could share the same platform as MDP in any situation. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t appear together in a ceremony to celebrate the prophet’s birthday. But it won’t be easy to join them to talk politics, to bring stability to the country, and to shape the country.

So I want to say to our members, we must be a party based on values, we must be a strong party. If strength is measured by the number of members, we have that strength. It is a responsibility and an honour for the leadership of this party to serve. So we have to be a model party, we have to solve the problems in our party. If the party needs to be reformed, the council must know. We all love reform. We’re sad to see our party lose grasp of these values. Things have come to a point that we least wanted to see. Our leaders must seek to solve this peacefully, and within our values, in order to demonstrate their ability and commitment. That is the way we become a model party.

[sic] So we are all mandated to do this to save our party today. The courts were not set up to solve this. The judicial remedy should be the last way. That’s not an uncivilized act, that’s not the erosion of democracy. The judiciary is the final arbiter if the institutions of democracy are unable to solve their issues. That is reality. We reached that point because we couldn’t solve it any other way. I want to tell all our members, and everyone interested in us, that we could still solve this. The most respected and honorable member of our party is the party’s president, and with all due respect to him, I want to appeal to him to make use of the party’s organs, and resolve these issues, according to the set procedures.

We are here to cooperate. We are not at a point that we cannot talk. Because this party belongs to all of us. We are all needed to win elections. It is a responsibility of the party’s president, the advisor, and the parliament members to support everyone competing in elections. It is everyone’s responsibility to do so, and doing so will strengthen our party. And we must do so gladly, and willingly. I remember the campaign for our brother Ghassan, when he was running for the Thimarafushi constituency for the Majlis, there were not a lot of people to go campaigning with him, and those who went were treated very inhumanely, I said “I will go to get Ghassan elected,” I had the courage to go, when we went with all the trouble from Musthafa, we were stuck on the ocean for more than 17 hours. But now Musthafa is among us, this is democracy, this is how philosophy changes. If Ghassan had won it would have been an honor to us, we would have won an honourable seat. I still believe that Ghassan is a man with a political future. By the grace of god, we will get him elected to the next People’s Majlis to represent some good constituency.”