Maumoon Abdul Gayoom accused Abdulla Yameen of authoritarianism on his third anniversary in power, in an escalating war of words between the two brothers over the ruling party leadership dispute.
Gayoom is continuing to put up a fight for the Progressive Party of the Maldives, despite losing a court battle and Yameen’s supporters ransacking the party’s headquarters.
Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years, was stripped of his powers as elected leader of the PPM in October by the civil court in a ruling that paved the way for Yameen, who holds the post of advisor to the party, to seize control of the ruling party.
Several lawmakers who had declared support for Gayoom have also reversed their stand.
In a victory rally on Saturday, Yameen said that the Maldives had no time for “the speed of a sick bear,” urging supporters to rally behind a “young deer,” a comment widely perceived as a jab at Gayoom, who turns 79 in December.
“We don’t want to become prey,” the president who is 57 said. “We want to go out and hunt.”
Gayoom responded by slamming Yameen’s three-year record at a ceremony to inaugurate the office of the PPM president at the party’s former headquarters on Wednesday. Without naming names, Gayoom condemned Yameen’s crackdown on dissent, and said that he was saddened that there was no success to speak of on the PPM’s third anniversary in power.
“This is a government we elected. This government does not belong to one individual. This is a PPM government,” he said. “It was with deep sadness that I announced my decision to withdraw support for this government. I was forced to.”
Anti-Gayoom insults that were found scrawled on the building’s inner walls after Yameen’s supporters removed all of the party’s furniture, documents and computers were removed for the inauguration.
Several members of Gayoom’s rival secretariat set up have meanwhile been questioned by the police over hard disks and documents that have gone missing.
MP Mohamed Waheed was the latest to be summoned to the police headquarters.
“The questions were about the missing hard drives. However, I told them that I am not involved in the administrative matters of the party. I will cooperate with the police on any case they are investigating,” the lawmaker told the Maldives Independent of Tuesday’s interrogation.
Abdul Aleem, the Gayoom faction’s secretary general, Aminath Nadira, his vice president and a third administrative staff have also been questioned. Aleem’s mobile phone has also been confiscated.
Avas, a pro-government news outlet, meanwhile reported that the elections commission has provided a copy of the PPM’s registry, which listed Yameen and Azima Shakoor, a minister in his cabinet, alongside Gayoom as founding members.
Avas suggested that the document dispels questions over Yameen’s alleged usurpation of the party.
Gayoom, in a speech withdrawing support for the president, had said that the internal strife within the party was caused by members of the now-defunct People’s Alliance joining and taking control of the PPM. The PA was founded by Yameen in 2007.
MP Abdulla Khaleel, the secretary general of the Yameen faction, meanwhile announced that some 5,000 new members have joined the PPM since the president assumed control.
In a separate development, the civil court has rejected a fresh legal bid launched by Gayoom to retake the PPM, claiming the lawsuit was filed at the wrong division of the court.
There is also no apparent progress on the Gayoom faction’s plans to file a motion calling for a no confidence vote in the speaker of the parliament.
The plan appears to have been thrown into disarray by the defection of MPs Ahmed ‘Red Wave’ Saleem and Ibrahim Shujau, who had been part of Gayoom’s eight-member parliamentary group.
The Hulhumalé Development Corporation, accusing Red Wave of violating an agreement to open a café on a plot of land that also houses a grocery store, had threatened to take back the whole plot.
Soon after Saleem publicly renewed his support for Yameen, HDC extended the deadline for the café opening and the health ministry issued permits that had been stalled. The Red Wave Café opened on November 13.