A lawsuit filed against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom by two MPs of his Progressive Party of Maldives began Sunday with a dispute resolution meeting.
MPs Mohamed Shahid and Ahmed Shiyam are seeking a court order to compel the PPM leader to lift his suspension of the party’s council and committees.
Shahid told local media last week that the lawsuit has been withdrawn after Gayoom allowed committees to resume work. But a summons was delivered to the PPM office Thursday afternoon.
“We expected some concessions at first and that’s why we discussed withdrawing the suit. But we’ve realised Maumoon is still not allowing for council or committee meetings, that’s why we decided to carry on with the case,” he told The Maldives Independent yesterday.
“I am a council member myself. It is very hard because we can’t hold meetings. Even now, there’s a lot of things on hold because of that.”
The details of yesterday’s dispute resolution meeting are unclear. The case will go to trial if the parties are unable to reach a mediated settlement.
Gayoom seized control of the party last month amid a power struggle with his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen.
The PPM split was triggered by Gayoom’s refusal to grant the party’s presidential ticket to Yameen without a primary. He rejected a petition signed by a majority of the PPM council, suggesting that they were coerced.
Gayoom ordered the party’s secretary general to seek his permission before calling meetings of the executive council and other committees. He also stripped PPM deputy leader, Abdul Raheem Abdulla, of authority to administer party affairs.
The MP accused Gayoom of “hijacking” the ruling party.
The former strongman who ruled the Maldives for 30 years 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 meanwhile defied Gayoom’s orders and held a meeting to expel his son from the party.
Faris Maumoon was found guilty of breaching the PPM parliamentary group’s whip line by voting against controversial changes to the tourism law at Gayoom’s behest.
But the PPM said a statement last week that Faris remains a member as a complaint against him was not filed in accordance with its charter.
The rules state that disciplinary cases must be submitted through a specific form to the party’s office. But the complaint was submitted by the parliamentary group in a letter to the disciplinary committee.
Ali Waheed, the head of the three-member disciplinary committee, told The Maldives Independent last week that complaints can be filed verbally as well.
Two Gayoom loyalists, Aminath Nadira and Zaidul Ameen, were also expelled for “defaming” Yameen and criticising the president on social media.
“I assure you, the committee has expelled Faris. Nadira has been expelled, Zaidul Ameen has been expelled and I have also informed the party’s deputy secretary general, who has to inform the members of their expulsion. It is his duty to do so,” he said.
But the deputy secretary general, Abdul Aleem Adam, a Gayoom loyalist, insisted that the expulsion was invalid.
Waheed and Aleem have exchanged numerous letters on the issue during the past two weeks – which were shared with the media – but the latter has so far refused to enforce the decision.
In his latest letter, Aleem asked the committee chair for minutes of the meeting, attendance details, and other documents.
Faris, Nadira and Ameen have a right to appeal the decision, he wrote, but cannot do so without the documents.
He also noted that the meeting was not held at the party’s office.
The party’s secretary general Mohamed Tholal had meanwhile resigned soon after Gayoom unveiled his reform agenda, citing his inability to carry out duties.
He was appointed deputy minister at the home ministry shortly thereafter.
Reporting by Shafaa Hameed and Hassan Moosa.