President Abdulla Yameen has demoted three political appointees seen as loyal to his half-brother former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom amid growing rumours of a rift between the brothers.
State minister of fisheries and agriculture Zaha Waheed was demoted to the position of executive coordinator at the ministry. Zaha also serves as the secretary general of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM). Gayoom is the PPM’s leader.
State minister of law and gender Dr Hala Hameed was transferred to the foreign ministry as an additional secretary at the deputy minister level. Hala had also previously served as the vice president of the Police Integrity Commission.
Both Zaha and Hala are close relatives of Yameen and Gayoom. Hala is the daughter of former atolls minister Abdulla Hameed, who passed away last month.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Muaz Ali insisted in a tweet today that Hala was not demoted but transferred to the foreign ministry at her request on August 24.
“There is an established hierarchy in the foreign service,” Muaz said, adding that appointments to the foreign service are not based on their previous positions.
Deputy minister for law and gender Aminath Nadira was meanwhile demoted to the position of executive coordinator at the ministry.
Speaking to The Maldives Independent, MP of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Rozaina Adam, alleged that the demotions were the result of tensions between the Gayoom brothers.
“What we are seeing is the demotion of individuals loyal and faithful to president Maumoon,” Rozaina claimed.
The demotions are “signs of an upcoming internal war in PPM,” she predicted.
Rozaina also expressed concern that all individuals who were demoted are women: “Women have been the first victims of the purge by president Yameen to remove president Gayoom’s influence and power.”
Last week, Gayoom declined an invitation to inaugurate a symposium organised by First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim to train “campaign leaders” for Yameen’s re-election bid in 2018.
Following Gayoom’s refusal to attend the symposium, a pro-government media outlet 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.