The parliamentary group of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives will remove former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom from the party’s presidency, MP Ibrahim Falah warned on Saturday.
Falah, deputy leader of the PPM parliamentary group, told the press that Gayoom has only been able to remain in the post due to the “love and respect” President Abdulla Yameen bears for his half-brother.
“If the task was given to our PG group, President Maumoon would not be the PPM’s president. God willing, we will now begin that work. President Maumoon has to be removed from the PPM’s presidency now,” he said.
The warning came after Gayoom signed a declaration with former President Mohamed Nasheed, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla to work together to restore democracy in the Maldives.
The alliance is seeking to remove Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed and form a new parliamentary majority after Monday’s crucial impeachment vote.
Along with five seats held by coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance, Yameen’s faction of the Progressive Party of Maldives ostensibly controls 45 seats in the 85-member house.
Both Gayoom and his son, MP Faris Maumoon, have maintained that several PPM MPs will abandon Yameen and vote to impeach the speaker.
Speaking at a joint rally of the opposition alliance Saturday night, Aminath Nadira, deputy leader of the PPM’s Gayoom faction, meanwhile hit back at Falah.
The party’s charter or governing statutes do not authorise the parliamentary group to remove Gayoom, she said.
Only the PPM’s grassroots members can elect and dismiss the president, Nadira said.
Falah was speaking at a press conference held by 41 MPs from the PPM-MDA joint parliamentary group in solidarity with Maseeh.
Gayoom also came under fire from several PPM MPs for signing a pact with the opposition, with some likening him to “outdated spare parts”.
“I don’t believe today that President Maumoon belongs to the PPM’s ideology. No one from the PPM ideology will at the same table with the MDP and sign an agreement with Kenereege Nasheed,” said MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla.
He said Gayoom is now part of the “destructive” ideology of the MDP that the former president previously contrasted with the PPM’s “constructive” ideology.
Raheem also contended that Gayoom “does not have the right to sign agreements on behalf of PPM” without the approval of the party’s council.
“Today he is a symbolic figure. He does not have any responsibilities for running the party,” he said.
Gayoom was effectively stripped of his powers as the PPM’s leader in October after the civil court ordered Yameen, the party’s chief advisor, to resume council meetings under his leadership.
The controversial judgment came after two PPM MPs petitioned the court to order Gayoom to lift the suspension of the party’s governing council, a majority of which is controlled by Yameen’s loyalists.
The council subsequently put Yameen in charge of the party.
But Gayoom has remained defiant, presiding over a rival council comprised of loyalists, appointing deputies and a secretary-general, and issuing several statements criticising the government.
The PPM split was triggered in June by Gayoom’s refusal to endorse Yameen for the 2018 presidential election. The split intensified when MP Faris was expelled for voting against a government-sponsored bill at his father’s behest.
Gayoom then suspended the PPM council and launched an agenda to reform the PPM, accusing ruling party lawmakers of facilitating corruption and undermining the democratic reforms he initiated in 2004.
Gayoom withdrew support for his half-brother’s administration in late October.
He is presently in India after travelling there on a private visit earlier this month. Gayoom’s military bodyguards were prevented from accompanying the former president, shortly after he declared support for Maseeh’s no-confidence.