Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has declined an invitation to inaugurate a symposium to launch President Abdulla Yameen’s re-election campaign for 2018, set to begin tonight.
Vice President Ahmed Adeeb had sent a letter to Gayoom, requesting him to be the chief guest at the symposium, but a staff at the First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim’s office said: “for some reason, President Maumoon is not attending.”
Gayoom is the president of the PPM and half-brother to Yameen.
Adeeb will now be the chief guest at the three-day symposium, organized by the first lady’s office without the involvement of ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).
The symposium’s aim is to create campaign leaders and to increase PPM’s membership to 100,000 members.
In a Facebook post, Adeeb said: “HEP Maumoon have been a very supportive brother, advisor and an inspiration to HEP Yameen and all of us… HEP Maumoon will launch the Mahasinthaa [symposium] as I have already sent the invitation letter to HEP Maumoon.”
Gayoom’s refusal to attend the symposium has revived speculation of a deepening rift between the Gayoom brothers.
In conversations between PPM MPs on a social media group, leaked by a newspaper with links to the vice president, PPM MP Ibrahim Shujau said Gayoom’s decision can be interpreted as a refusal to back Yameen for a second term in office.
MP Ali Arif confirmed that PPM has no role in the symposium.
“PPM has not made any official decision on its role or participation in the symposium, but I can assure you that all senior members and activists of the party are working tirelessly to make the symposium a success,” Arif said.
Gayoom’s office was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.
Some 318 participants are expected to participate in the symposium.
According to local media, the PPM’s constitution says if its candidate is elected for the presidency, he or she will be offered the party ticket for a second term without a primary.
The symposium will be held at Thaajudeen School
“Participants will be trained on how they can raise awareness on the successes of this government and the reason why president Yameen should be re-elected in 2018,” a staff at the first lady’s office said, adding that senior government officials will be conducting the training sessions.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesman, has previously said representatives from all of PPM branches in the islands will participate and said Fathimath is personally overseeing all campaign activities.