Police orders Gayoom to cancel meeting with PPM members

Police orders Gayoom to cancel meeting with PPM members
January 18 18:40 2017

The police have told former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to cancel plans to meet with members of the divided Progressive Party of Maldives at his office Wednesday night.

Gayoom was planning to launch a series of meetings with PPM members when two police officers visited the former president’s office this afternoon and informed his son Faris Maumoon that the gathering cannot take place.

Abdul Aleem, the Gayoom faction’s secretary-general, told the Maldives Independent that the policemen referred to a civil court ruling that stripped the 79-year-old of authority as the PPM’s elected leader and handed over control to President Abdulla Yameen.

“But we have not been given an official reason so far. It is an unlawful order as the party’s president only acts lawfully in accordance with the party charter. The party’s president should be able to meet members of the party at his office,” he said.

“The ceremony has not been cancelled yet. We are waiting for the president to make a decision on that. A decision has not been made yet.”

Aleem said the police officers asked Faris to pass their message to his father as Gayoom was not in his foundation’s office in Henveiru Fulidhooge at the time.

The Gayoom faction was planning to hold the gathering at the PPM president’s office in Henveiru Thema, which was previously used as the party’s headquarters.

The freedom of assembly law restricts gatherings in the capital to the carnival area of Malé. However, the law does not apply to events held indoors.

The police spokesman was not responding as of press time.

The police had also blocked Gayoom’s supporters from holding a rally at Thema last October to mark the PPM’s fifth anniversary.

The PPM was split into rival factions last year after the civil court lifted Gayoom’s suspension of the party’s governing council, which promptly put Yameen in charge of the ruling party until its next national congress.

But Gayoom has remained defiant despite losing the battle for control of the PPM to his half-brother, withdrawing support for the government and accusing the Yameen administration of authoritarianism and corruption.

On Tuesday, Gayoom put out a statement questioning the legitimacy of PPM primaries due to take place on January 27 to elect candidates for the upcoming local council elections.

The PPM’s charter or governing statutes state that the party’s elections committee must conduct internal polls, but Gayoom said the committee – comprised of members voted in at the PPM’s last congress – was not consulted.

Gayoom contended that the primaries planned by Yameen’s faction would be invalid.

“The party’s members should contest in elections overseen by the party’s elections committee. I believe it is being done in breach of the charter for the benefit of certain people,” he said.

Yameen’s faction meanwhile hit back at Gayoom today with Secretary-General Dr Abdulla Khaleel insisting that the former president can no longer speak on behalf of the party.

The party’s council under Yameen’s leadership has reconstituted the elections committee, which is overseeing the upcoming primary contests, the MP told the press Wednesday afternoon.

The Yameen faction is planning to hold primaries for ten Malé City council seats, 16 atoll and 38 island council seats, the MP said. Candidates have been selected for some 212 seats without a primary contest.

“We see [Gayoom’s] efforts as contrary to the unity and the spirit of working for the party’s progress that is called for in the charter,” Khaleel said.

Last week, Gayoom was meanwhile questioned by the police over missing hard drives thought to contain the PPM’s membership registry.

The police previously searched Gayoom’s office and raided the home of the Gayoom faction’s secretary-general over the missing drive.

Citing the loss of the database in the wake of the acrimonious leadership dispute, Yameen’s faction successfully petitioned the civil court last month to postpone the local council elections by two months.

Yameen’s faction did not make any nominations when an extended deadline expired in December, blaming its inability to prepare on the loss of the party’s membership registry.

The election is now scheduled to take place on April 8.