The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has decided to reject a bill that would strip former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the party’s presidency.
The amendment, submitted by an opposition MP, proposes setting an age limit of 65 for political party heads. Gayoom, who is half-brother to President Abdulla Yameen, is now 77.
Some 13 party branches issued statements urging MPs to vote against the bill, while two Malé branches expressed support for the bill, stating that PPM should hand over its reigns to the incumbent President Yameen.
The parliamentary group has previously held two meetings on the matter, but were unable to reach a decision.
MP Ahmed Nihan, the majority leader, said some 26 MPs present at the parliamentary group meeting yesterday voted unanimously to reject the amendment. A three-line-whip has now been issued.
MPs were previously unable to reach a decision because of lack of quorum, he said.
The first reading of the bill took place on August 27, just before parliament broke for recess. It has not been put to a vote yet.
MP Ali Azim of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said he had proposed the changes to bring the political party law in line with the first amendment to the constitution passed in June that set an age limit of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice presidency.
The PPM’s Galolhu North and Machangoalhi South branch issued statements in early September urging the party’s council to hand over the its reins to incumbent President Yameen.
“As it is apparent that an individual leading a political party will have to carry out great responsibilities, and hard work, with a full schedule, we do not believe that an individual older than 65 years of age will be able to attend to the matter in the most efficient manner,” reads the statements.
The party’s disciplinary committee is considering action against the head of the Machangoalhi South Branch.
Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years, snubbed an invitation in early September to launch an symposium organised by First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim to kick start Yameen’s 2018 re-election bid.
Gayoom declined a second invitation to inaugurate the second half of the symposium.
A pro-government media outlet subsequently leaked conversations between PPM MPs on social media, 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.