Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son was expelled Tuesday from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives amid a bitter internal power struggle that has erupted into open warfare.
MP Faris Maumoon was expelled by the party’s disciplinary committee for voting against the policies of his uncle, incumbent President Abdulla Yameen.
The battle for the control of PPM between the Gayoom brothers has split the party, with the elder Gayoom, who heads the party, suspending its council and internal committees and announcing a reform agenda to free the party from corruption.
Faris’ removal was followed by his sister Dunya Maumoon’s resignation from her post as foreign minister and the announcement that Gayoom has been summoned to the anti-graft watchdog for an inquiry.
Three MPs loyal to Yameen have meanwhile filed a lawsuit with the civil court seeking to overturn Gayoom’s suspension of the party’s internal committees.
The three-member disciplinary committee met at 2:30pm today, defying Gayoom’s orders, and found Faris guilty of breaching the PPM parliamentary group’s whipline in two controversial votes, the latest on leasing islands for tourism without a bidding process.
Faris had refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
In a statement issued shortly after the disciplinary committee meeting, he said: “It saddens me that I have been penalized for a vote made in the interest of the Maldivian people, given that the Progressive Party of the Maldives was founded to protect the rights of the Maldivian people and bring them prosperity and development.”
He added: “I am ready to cooperate with an inquiry that proceeds according to the party’s charter and in an environment that is just and free from influence.”
Gayoom had appealed to the 44-member PPM parliamentary group not to vote for the government-sponsored bill on the grounds that the changes are contrary to the party’s charter that states that the country’s natural resources must be utilised equitably.
The 78-year-old who ruled the Maldives for 30 years had previously opposed several parliamentary votes, including a constitutional amendment that authorised foreign freeholds here for the first time.
Faris had supported his father’s stand in both votes.
Ali Waheed, the chair of the PPM disciplinary committee, said the party charter allows the committee to make decisions in absentia if the accused refuses to cooperate with the inquiry.
Gayoom had opposed the committee calling a meeting, Waheed said, but “we believe that we have to look into any disciplinary complaints filed with us and so it the decision not up to the president.”
The former president had spoken out over the complaint against his son on Monday, noting the PPM had previously failed to take action against other MPs when they voted against the party’s stance.
Gayoom loyalists Aminath Nadira and Zaidhul Ameen were also expelled, for defaming Yameen and for tweets critical of his policies, according to letters Waheed sent to the pair today.
The expulsions have triggered a calls for disciplinary actions against others, including majority leader Ahmed Nihan and PPM deputy leader and MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla.
Nihan is accused of making decisions on matters of national importance without consulting Gayoom, the party president, and Abdulla is accused of tarnishing Gayoom’s reputation in recent media interviews.
Abdulla had accused Gayoom of hijacking the party when he was stripped of the power to administer the party.
The acrimonious split within the PPM comes at a time Yameen is facing international and domestic pressure over human rights abuses and the jailing of opposition leaders.
The Maldives United Opposition, a coalition between opposition parties and former Yameen regime officials, has pledged to oust Yameen and establish a transitional government. The MUO wants to arrest Yameen on charges of corruption and money-laundering.
Additional reporting by Shafaa Hameed