The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) disciplinary committee has been asked to investigate a statement issued by the head of the party’s Machchangoalhi south branch, Ahmed Shamoon, backing the removal of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom from the party’s leadership.
The PPM said in a statement yesterday that the committee has been asked to take disciplinary action against Shamoon as he had released the statement in his “personal capacity” without consulting the branch’s executive committee.
Shamoon’s statement could adversely affect “the party’s unity and harmony,” the PPM said.
Shamoon told The Maldives Independent today that he has not been informed of any charges against him at the disciplinary committee.
“I have seen the statement on a Facebook page. I don’t know if that is the official PPM page, so I will have to verify the authenticity of the statement before commenting,” he said.
The statement issued by Machchangoalhi south branch in Malé on September 7 urged the PPM council to replace Gayoom with President Abdulla Yameen as the party’s new leader and backed proposed amendments to the political party law that would strip Gayoom from the leadership post.
MP Ali Azim of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had proposed setting an age limit of 65 years for leaders of political parties. Gayoom is 77 and would lose his leadership post if the change is approved.
Shamoon previously said that “a vast majority of the branch members” and PPM supporters supported making Yameen the party’s leader. The move was necessary to ensure the party’s full support in order to effectively implement the president’s policies, the Machchangoalhi south branch’s statement suggested.
Shamoon is also a coordinator at the tourism ministry.
The statement came amid speculation of a split within the PPM between Gayoom loyalists and Yameen supporters.
The former president last week snubbed an invitation to launch a symposium organised by First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim’s campaign office to train campaign leaders for Yameen’s 2018 re-election bid.
A pro-government media outlet subsequently leaked conversations between PPM MPs on a Viber group, in which PPM MP Ibrahim Shujau said Gayoom’s decision can be interpreted as a refusal to back his half-brother Yameen for a second term in office.
The campaign office extended a second invitation to Gayoom to inaugurate the second round of the symposium on September 10. However, Gayoom has declined the invitation and is reportedly due to leave for Malaysia tonight.
Some 13 PPM branches had meanwhile issued statements expressing support for Gayoom and urging the party’s MPs to vote against the proposed amendment.
Several PPM MPs have publicly declared that they will not vote for Azim’s bill.
The PPM parliamentary group reportedly held two meetings to discuss its stance on the bill, but did not reach a decision. A proposal by Gayoom’s son and MP for Dhiggaru, Faris Maumoon, to issue a three-line whip to reject the amendment was not put to a vote.
The legislation will be up for debate when parliament returns from recess in October. As the PPM and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance controls a comfortable majority of 48 seats in the 85-member house, the ruling coalition’s backing will be necessary to approve the proposed change.