Translation: Gayoom’s statement on PPM reform agenda

Translation: Gayoom’s statement on PPM reform agenda
July 02 12:42 2016

After seizing control of the Progressive Party of Maldives amidst escalating internal strife, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom publicly criticised government policies and the ruling party’s parliamentary group for the first time on Thursday night. The following is a translated excerpt of the PPM leader’s televised statement.

Lately, this party’s democratic activities have very much come to a halt. The party’s image, too, has been tarnished among the Maldivian people. This is something the party’s members and I are very concerned about.

The question is why did this come to be? In my view, the biggest reason is the loss of the party’s internal discipline, the diminishing respect for the party’s charter, and the actions of the party’s various organs and members that were contrary to the counsel and thinking of the party’s leadership. When we looked to take disciplinary action against such people, the party’s organs were incapable.

I do not intend to demean any of the party’s organs. I respect all of the party’s organs. But sadly, the truth I have to tell is that the party’s parliamentary group leader has acted against instructions I gave in writing.

Section 39(b) of the charter state that the parliamentary group’s decisions must conform to the party’s fundamental principles and policies – decisions that encourage achieving the party’s objectives. Despite this being stated in such clear language in the charter, and while remaining the majority party in the People’s Majlis, the parliamentary group’s whip line is set in contravention of the party’s principles and objectives. Such decisions cannot be valid. And I note with sadness that such decisions are causing harm to the nation.

Likewise, article 14 of the charter state that each member of the party must agree to act in accordance with the charter, principles, and ideology. Therefore, those who do not cannot be a member of the party.

The amendment for leasing uninhabited islands of the Maldives, land and lagoons, without a public announcement is absolutely contrary to the party’s objectives. Article 10(j) of the party’s charter states that ensuring the prosperity of the people by equitably bestowing on them the wealth of Maldivian land, seas, and all related natural resources, is among the party’s main objectives.

As this is so clear in the party’s charter, I appealed for MPs not to vote for this bill and undertook many efforts in my capacity as the party’s president. However, in violation of the party’s charter, some members of the parliamentary group have done this in a way that harms the Maldives and its people. Yesterday’s vote is one example of many such instances.

And I also have to say, instructions I give to the PPM MPs through text messages as the president of the party are also not being followed.

Furthermore, is the party administered by the party’s office or another office? A lot of the party’s branches and members have been asking me this question. I have been receiving complaints of another office accepting membership forms, creating branches, and issuing instructions to branches. I have also learned that members and branches have not been registered because the party’s office does not receive such forms and documents.

And very recently, reports of a petition to me signed by members of the party’s council had spread very rapidly in the media. Some council members have also talked about it in the media. On this issue, I have to first say that I have not received the said petition. Therefore, there is no room for me to comment on its content.

However, I have to say that it was not done right at all. I say this because you beloved members elected me to the post of president, and charged me with achieving the objectives stated in article 52 of the charter. And while I remain in the post with God’s will, that some council members did such a thing without informing me, in secret, is very saddening.

Some council members who signed that petition called me or met me after signing it and told me that they signed it because they had no other choice. And they told me in great detail how it occurred. Therefore, even if that petition had come to me, I would find it hard to believe that it is a valid petition.

The whole country is facing the adverse consequences of losing the party’s discipline, not respecting the party’s charter, and acting against the advice of the party’s president.

The council is the highest organ of the party and the present government is a PPM government, [but] major changes have been made to the constitution without the knowledge of the PPM president. Major changes are also being brought to laws. Things are happening against the principles of  accountability, transparency, and international best practice, and in a way that paves the way for corruption.

And things are happening in a way that raises questions about the Maldivian judiciary. Ordinary citizens are extremely concerned about all of this.

Reforming the party and returning to the sound principles of the party is, according to article 45 of the charter, my responsibility as president of the party. Therefore, I have done a lot of work within the party for many days to find a solution to the aforementioned problems by talking to various members and organs.

But sadly, I have not made any progress despite all the work. As time is passing without the problems being solved, and because the dissatisfaction and worries of the PPM’s members are growing from day to day, I would like to inform you beloved members that I have launched efforts to reform the PPM.

The purpose of this reform programme is to reform the party’s internal mechanisms and to return to the party’s true principles. The first step of this reform programme is to strengthen the administration of the party. Article 56 of the charter states the party’s vice presidents must help the party’s president. [Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla has been stripped of authority to administer the party’s affairs.]

The second step is to understand the current state of the party, discover the number of legitimate members and legitimate branches, and identify the restrictions the party’s office and organs are facing. At the same time, in accordance with the rules, to make the party’s main office the only authority that issues various instructions to the party’s branches and members.

The other thing is making the party more democratic, reducing the democracy deficit, and seeking the views and counsel of the party’s members more on party affairs.

When this work is done, we can properly prepare for the January 2017 local council elections. Today I have formed the advisory council provided for in our charter to give me advice and counsel in this task. According to the rules, the advisory council has eight members in addition to the party’s president.

The other important step of my reform programme is to find out what has and has not been achieved in the PPM manifesto. I want very much to discover the views of the party’s members on this. I believe this will be very important information for the PPM to win the 2018 presidential election. God willing, I will reveal very soon a timetable for this work.

To implement this reform agenda that I have summarised, I need the full cooperation and help of the party’s council, parliamentary group, and all organs. I do not doubt that everyone will give me this cooperation and help. I sincerely appeal for the full support of the party’s members in this task.

I especially urge the party’s members to do the following: work in accordance with the party’s charter, objectives, and principles, encourage the party’s other members, branches, and officials in the party’s posts to do the same, check to ensure that officials elected on the party’s ticket are acting in accordance with your thinking, think deeply about the direction of the country and freely share views with the party’s branches and leadership, and share your views with me on preparing the PPM’s manifesto for 2018.

I believe that if this reform agenda I am proposing is completed, the PPM’s image will be restored, a PPM presidential candidate will be determined in accordance with the charter, and PPM will win the presidential election with God’s will. And a swift solution can be found to the big national problems we are facing today.