Officials loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom appeared for the first time on an opposition aligned television channel to air grievances against his half-brother and incumbent president, Abdulla Yameen.
MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim and Aminath Nadira, who were appointed as deputy leaders of the Gayoom-faction of the ruling party, accused Yameen of authoritarianism and hypocrisy in an unprecedented appearance on the popular channel, Raajje TV, on Saturday, and took a swipe at what they described as his unwillingness to contest presidential primaries for the 2018 polls.
Yameen was installed to head the party, splitting it into fully-fledge rival factions.
Waheed, also known as Lawyer Waddey, said the feud began with disagreements over legal changes, and escalated over Gayoom’s refusal to grant Yameen the PPM ticket.
The 78-year-old former president was sidelined and his views were disregarded by the party’s lawmakers, Waheed said, alleging an “well-organised” plot at removing Gayoom from the party’s leadership after Yameen assumed the presidency.
Despite Gayoom heading the party, he was never formally informed of Yameen’s re-election bid, Waheed said of the campaign launched by the first lady in 2015 with a series of symposiums to train campaign managers.
Gayoom did not attend the symposiums.
“President Maumoon is PPM. PPM is president Maumoon. But when it came to the symposiums, he received an invitation. Who sent this invitation? It was not the advisor. Such events allowed for the paralysis of the PPM,” he continued. “President Maumoon was not involved in these symposiums, I believe he turned down the invitations because he found the situation to be unacceptable.”
He suggested that First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim, who Gayoom had earlier accused of setting up a rival office to run the PPM, was the root cause of the split.
“I don’t have to name names. The people know why the symposium was held, who led the effort, and who was invited and why,” he said.
The pair insisted that Gayoom was not authorised to grant the party ticket without approval of a majority of delegates from a national congress.
Nadira said: “I don’t understand why such a distinguished politician is so fearful of contesting a primary. When he is bringing so much progress and development to the country, why not contest in a primary?”
She hit back at Yameen’s description of Gayoom as his “beloved brother” at a public event on Thursday, slamming the president for scaling back financial perks for former presidents: “[He says] my beloved brother, but cuts privileges. [He says] beloved brother, but does not respond to any messages.”
Waheed added: “Yameen’s actions and words are as different as night and day. The love there is clear for all to see.” The MP went on to warn of Allah’s wrath, and accused Yameen of authoritarianism, noting the jailing of Yameen’s closest allies, including a former presidents and a defence minister.
“President Maumoon is the last one remaining,” he said, adding that he feared reprisals for speaking against the president. “Watch what happens to me tomorrow… It will not take long. Tonight, at dawn, tomorrow, watch.”
The court ruling that handed control of PPM to Yameen was unjust, the pair insisted, dismissing the civil court’s ruling that Gayoom had brought the party to a standstill by refusing to hold meetings of its governing council.
A majority of the 33-member council comprised of Yameen loyalists.
The council and the party’s internal committees were suspended when Gayoom’s son, MP Faris Maumoon, was expelled for voting against a government-sponsored bill. The former president reconvened a meeting when two MPs sought court action to lift the suspension, but Yameen loyalists walked out of the meeting over Faris’ presence.
Gayoom later refused to schedule more meetings, demanding an apology from the faction that walked out. This refusal became the basis of the verdict declaring him incapable of carrying out his duties.
Nadira meanwhile claimed Gayoom had to cancel six meetings this year because ministers and MPs had failed to turn up, and said that Yameen had failed to attend any council meetings since 2014.
She appeared to rule out reconciliation, saying: “There are some 40 people who are holding our country hostage. We have to save ourselves… I too believe this problem is no longer one that can be resolved.”
The feud with Yameen was no longer limited to the presidential ticket, but also rights abuses, she said.
Waheed went on to accuse the president of hypocrisy. Yameen had described the walk-out by his loyalists from the party council as an example of democracy, but had censured Waheed for his absence at a parliamentary vote.
“When [the president] considers PPM council members walking out of a meeting in protest to be an example of democracy, I, as an MP – I am still there, I do not know what will happen to me tomorrow – faced action because I was not present at an allegedly important parliamentary vote. I was removed from the independent institutions and government oversight committees and placed in the petitions committee, which has no work. Do I not have the right to exercise democracy and leave the Majlis?”
The disciplinary committee, loyal to the Yameen-faction had meanwhile removed Waheed and MP Ibrahim Shujau, who acts as the Gayoom-faction’s spokesman, from their council on Friday on charges of criticizing the government.
The move came after the Gayoom-faction dissolved the committee and set up another in its place.
The two factions have set up rival offices and secretariats, and announced separate arrangements for the local council elections scheduled for January.
The housing ministry has let the Dharubaaruge convention center to the Yameen-faction to use as its headquarters, after refusing to lease the space to the Gayoom-faction for a rally on October 27.
The rally, to mark the PPM’s fifth anniversary, will now be held at Gayoom’s residence, Endherimaage, Waheed had announced.