Feature & Comment
Family matters in the Maldives: Faris Maumoon
Faris Maumoon is a politician but is best known for being the eldest son of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He is also known for being in prison.
Q. Who is Faris Maumoon?
A. He is a politician but is best known for being the eldest son of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He is also known for being in prison.
Q. Is that why he’s in the news?
A. He was released from custody after six months while being on trial for bribery
Q. Fantastic! So he’s enjoying his freedom?
A. Er, no. He was arrested days after his release. On the orders of his uncle.
Q. Who is his uncle?
A. His uncle is President Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of Gayoom.
Q. Why did the president have his nephew arrested?
A. The charges are attempting to overthrow the government with the help of politicians and bribing politicians. The president’s office is so far refusing to explain the presidential intervention.
Q. Faris isn’t particularly close to his uncle then?
A. He was expelled from the ruling party, which led Gayoom to withdraw his support for Yameen.
Q. How about his siblings?
A. Faris has three siblings. Two of them – Ghassan and Dunya – serve in Yameen’s government. His sister Yumna was also in Yameen’s government until her resignation in 2016. She is very much Team Gayoom.
Q. No family gatherings on the cards anytime soon?
A. Gayoom has become increasingly outspoken about his half-brother’s administration and even teamed up with Yameen’s democracy-loving nemesis, ex-president Mohamed Nasheed, to form an opposition coalition.
Q. What will happen to Faris?
A. His lawyers will appeal. There will be an ongoing outcry against his detention, pretrial hearings and lengthy legal processes – possibly the same chain of events that took place before his (short-lived) release.
Q. Same same but different?
A. It’s a presidential election year! Faris’ re-arrest could galvanise support for the opposition coalition — or it could send a message that nobody is safe.