The Progressive Party of Maldives has denied former President Mohamed Nasheed’s claim of ongoing talks with the ruling party’s leader, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, to “legally topple” the government.
Abdul Aleem Adam, the PPM’s deputy secretary-general, accused the exiled opposition leader of “lying to bring President Maumoon into disrepute and to create discord among PPM members.”
Nasheed told reporters in Colombo via Skype on Tuesday night that an alliance with Gayoom against President Abdulla Yameen would create “a new political alignment.”
The embattled president, dogged by corruption allegations and battling a broad opposition coalition, “has lost the support of the Maldivian people, security services, international community and his own party,” Nasheed was quoted as saying.
“He has even lost the support of his own brother, former president Gayoom.”
Following widespread coverage of Nasheed’s remarks in both international and local media, Gayoom tweeted today: “Truth will be truth even if you say it once. A lie will be a lie even if you repeat it a thousand times.”
Gayoom’s long-rumoured rift with his half-brother became public in July after he accused ruling party lawmakers of facilitating corruption and reversing democratic reforms.
Nasheed, who defeated Gayoom in the country’s first multi-party election in 2008, first indicated the possibility of an alliance in an interview with the Indian Express earlier this month.
The PPM responded at the time by saying that its president “will always act according to the constitution” but stopped short of denying negotiations with Nasheed.
However, in the wake of Al Jazeera alleging that Gayoom demanded US$100,000 as a “goodwill” gesture for negotiations, the PPM leader told Sun Online last week that he has no engagement with “any opposition party or opposition political activity”.
In a tweet, Gayoom also denied asking for “any money to join or support any political movement”.
A subsequent tweet about the importance of forgiveness on Eid was meanwhile interpreted as Gayoom burying the hatchet with either Yameen or Nasheed.
In July, Yameen had called the split within the PPM a “big gift” to the opposition and later vowed to resolve the feud with Gayoom in a meeting with MPs.
Local media coverage of Nasheed’s press briefing and social media chatter meanwhile focused on the former prisoner of conscience “forgiving” Gayoom and stressing the need to move forward.
“How can you build a future if you always want to go back to live in the past,” he said.
Nasheed, a former dissident journalist and writer, was jailed multiple times during Gayoom’s 30-year reign.
An unnamed western diplomat based in Colombo meanwhile told AFP that the opposition “was expecting Gayoom to get a section of his party to withdraw support for Yameen late last month, but for some reason that did not happen.”
The source added: “It is not easy for the opposition to organise any agitation inside the country because all their leaders are either in jail or in exile.”
Nasheed’s arrival in Colombo on August 24 with other exiled opposition leaders had fuelled speculation of a plot to remove Yameen.
The Maldives United Opposition, a broad coalition of opposition parties and former senior government officials led by Nasheed and Yameen’s former deputy, has vowed to arrest the president on corruption charges.
In his interview with the Indian Express, Nasheed declined to reveal details of the opposition plans to remove Yameen, but said he believed a unity government – one that included Gayoom – was possible.
But the plan now appears to be on hold, according to the Indian Express, after Nasheed went back to the UK.
The jailed opposition leader was granted political asylum by the British government in May after he was authorised to travel for medical treatment.