Three ruling party MPs have filed a lawsuit against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at the civil court to regain control of the Progressive Party of the Maldives.
The three who are loyal to President Abdulla Yameen, Gayoom’s half brother, claim the former president of 30 years had hijacked the PPM by suspending its internal committees and announcing a reform agenda.
The lawsuit is the latest move in a bitter internal power struggle between the Gayoom brothers.
MP Ahmed ‘Avista’ Assad said he and MPs Mohamed Shahid and Ahmed Shiyam had filed the complaint because “the party does not belong to one man.”
“President Maumoon’s actions has brought the party to a halt. My hope is that this is all over soon and that President Maumoon cooperates with us.”
The lawsuit also aims to overturn Gayoom’s five-point reform agenda, he added.
The long rumored rift between the two brothers broke out into the open when a PPM MP sought action against Gayoom’s son, Faris Maumoon, for voting against a government-sponsored tourism bill at his behest.
Gayoom subsequently ordered the PPM secretary general to seek his permission before calling meetings of the party’s internal committees, and stripped the powers of its deputy leader, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla.
He then formed an advisory committee and launched a reform agenda, suggesting PPM MPs, who hold a majority in the parliament, were pushing through legal changes “that paves the way for corruption.”
The party’s disciplinary committee defied Gayoom’s orders and called a meeting Tuesday to expel Faris and two others. Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, Gayoom’s eldest daughter, announced her resignation shortly afterwards.
Assad, the lawmaker, has also asked the committee to take action against Gayoom. The reform agenda did not have the support of the PPM’s executive council, he said.
The Election Commission has meanwhile reprimanded Gayoom, ordering him to respect the party’s charter, local media report.
Mohamed Shakeel, an EC member, told pro-government newspaper Avas that a letter was sent to Gayoom on Tuesday following a complaint lodged by a PPM member. “This is not an advice given on bias. When we receive a complaint, we review and urge the party to reform,” the website quoted him as saying.
State broadcaster Public Service Media, citing the president of the anti-graft watchdog, Hassan Luthfee,also announced Tuesday that the Anti-Corruption Commission was planning to question Gayoom over an audit report released eight years ago.
Other members of the commission, who wished to remain anonymous, subsequently told newspaper Mihaaru that the ACC was not looking into allegations against Gayoom. The probe into Gayoom’s misuse of state funds was with the police, they said.
Members to both the EC and the ACC were reappointed by the PPM-dominated parliament.
Yammer loyalists have also taken to social media urging Gayoom to resign and hand over the party’s reigns to a new leadership.
Gayoom’s opposition to granting Yameen the party ticket without a primary was also a key trigger of the current power struggle. A majority of the party’s council had sent a letter making the demand in June, but Gayoom said some members had been coerced into signing the letter.
The council, a majority of which appears to be loyal to Yameen, also petitioned Gayoom on Sunday to call a meeting within three days. In a statement today, the PPM said Gayoom is working on bringing the council together after the Eid holidays. He is in dialogue with individual members in the meantime, the statement read.
The acrimonious split within the PPM comes at a time Yameen is facing international and domestic pressure over the jailing of opposition leaders and human rights abuses.
The Maldives United Opposition, a coalition between opposition parties and former Yameen regime officials, has pledged to oust Yameen and establish a transitional government.
The MUO wants to arrest Yameen on charges of corruption and money-laundering.