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Gayoom denies demanding US$100k from Nasheed as ‘goodwill’ gesture

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has denied demanding US$100,000 from his longtime rival and successor as a “goodwill” gesture for negotiations on forming an alliance to oust his embattled half-brother.



Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has denied demanding US$100,000 from his longtime rival and successor as a “goodwill” gesture for negotiations on forming an alliance to oust his embattled half-brother.

Citing unnamed sources, Al Jazeera reported yesterday that Gayoom demanded the money from former President Mohamed Nasheed earlier this year.

“Sources say Nasheed paid at least one instalment of $50,000, although he denies the allegation,” the Qatari broadcaster’s award-winning investigative unit reported.

Nasheed also denied any financial transactions ever taking place between the pair. “We have only ever discussed democracy,” he tweeted.

Nasheed, who defeated Gayoom in the country’s first multi-party election in 2008, indicated the possibility of an alliance with the 78-year-old former strongman in an interview with the Indian Express earlier this week.

“We have always understood democracy to be the best path of development and a better life. We’ve always advocated that, and when we see Gayoom on the same page as us, it would be very foolhardy of us to turn around and go,” he was quoted as saying.

The Progressive Party of Maldives, led by Gayoom, responded at the time by saying that its president “will always act according to the constitution” but stopped short of denying negotiations with Nasheed over an alliance.

However, in the wake of the Al Jazeera report, Gayoom has told Sun Online that he has no engagement with “any opposition party or opposition political activity”.

Asked about Nasheed’s comments to the Indian Express, Gayoom said: “I don’t know what President Nasheed really said. But what’s in the paper is a lie.”

Gayoom’s long-rumoured rift with President Abdulla Yameen had become public in July after he accused ruling party lawmakers of facilitating corruption and reversing democratic reforms undertaken during his 30-year reign.

The Maldives United Opposition, a broad coalition of opposition parties and former senior government officials led by Nasheed and Yameen’s former deputy, has meanwhile vowed to arrest the president on corruption charges.

Nasheed’s arrival in Colombo on August 24 with other exiled opposition leaders had fuelled speculation of a plot to remove Yameen.

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 this week.

The jailed opposition leader was granted political asylum by the British government in May after he was authorised to travel for medical treatment.

The Al Jazeera report was meanwhile part of its special coverage related to a corruption exposé, which was based on evidence gathered from three mobile phones of Yameen’s jailed former deputy.

The data showed that Gayoom’s two sons, Faris Maumoon and Ghassan Maumoon, received “large amounts of money” from former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

According to text messages, Viber conversations and emails obtained from Adeeb’s phones, Ghassan was also involved in an alleged US$1.5 billion money laundering scheme.

Faris, who previously served as a state minister before winning a seat in parliament, said in a tweet last night: “I wish to categorically deny allegations of illegal activity, corruption and wrongdoing made against me in the media today.”

According to Al Jazeera, Gayoom himself also wrote to Adeeb in October 2014 “begging for money for ‘party funds'”.

“Dear NR Adeeb, today is last month n we need funds for salaries etc. Can u pls help? Thank u,” reads the alleged message.

The PPM also put out a statement today denying the allegations against Gayoom and his sons and assuring the party’s members that the former president would “never harm the nation and the Maldivian people”.