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Q&A: Faris shares his take on where it all went wrong

Faris Maumoon discusses plans to weaken his uncle, President Abdulla Yameen’s stranglehold on power, and shares his take on where it all went wrong, his father’s legacy and how he came to be involved in politics



Faris Maumoon, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s eldest son, has taken center stage in the civil war roiling the Progressive Party of the Maldives. His expulsion from the ruling party prompted Gayoom’s withdrawal of support from, Abdulla Yameen, the president of the Maldives.

The Maldives Independent sat down with Faris to learn more of the Gayoom faction’s plans to weaken Yameen’s stronghold on power, his take on where it all went wrong, his father’s legacy and how he came to be involved in politics. 

The conversation began with Faris confessing that he is a ‘reluctant politician’.

Omkar Khandekar: Politics was obviously not your first choice. What led you to join in anyway?

Faris Maumoon: I tried to stay away from politics for the longest time. But it came to a point where things were not as one would wish. In 2008, after my father lost elections, I think his intention was to let President Nasheed rule, we had a party, the DRP, back then. It had a leadership but within the first couple of months, we could tell that things were not right. So we couldn’t really step back from the scene. We saw that the opposition was not functioning as a proper opposition. We couldn’t hold the government accountable. Then some incidents happened – perhaps not Mr Nasheed’s doing – but elements within his government.

OK: Which ones, specifically?

FM: We saw a lot of harassment, a lot of persecution of political dissidents, my father as well. Anni [Nasheed] has a background. The run up to 2008 election was based on a lot of vilification and character assassination [of my father]. It was a highly polarised and volatile situation and it has lasted till now. Then it came to a point that DRP wasn’t functioning properly and we had to form a new party. So my father asked me for more involvement. That’s how I came into PPM council. I was his agent in a way, in setting up the party. We didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes as in DRP within PPM, but we obviously find ourselves in the same situation again.

Then there was transfer of power, and President Nasheed stepped down for whatever reason, we still don’t know the full details of that. Then things got very heated up. We found out that not just my father as a former President but also his policies and what he stood for that came under attack, and we had to find a way in. So when the [Dhiggaru] seat opened up, when the [Dhiggaru] by-election came around, and because the constituency was fairly close to our family, having been involved there for many years, I decided to run for the seat, so that we could have a say in what was going on. If I hadn’t done that, I think things would be even worse, even more out of control than they are now. So basically that’s it – whatever we do, we do to set things right. We feel a lot of responsibility for the current government’s actions, even though we don’t condone them as they are now.

OK: How do you think the current president has changed over the years? You obviously had supported him. What went wrong?

FM: He is my uncle [hesitates] but we weren’t as close as a family. We knew him only in his professional capacity; we knew what the public knew: he had served in the cabinet, the parliament for many years. We saw him as someone who was capable, who was intelligent, and who could achieve targets. I thought he was the best candidate from those available at the time. Of course, there were rumours and allegations about his character, his past, but we dismissed them as out of hand saying it was just opposition-speak. Simply because the same things had been said about us, which were obviously untrue. His character, his nature has changed since he assumed power – since became a President. His decision making patterns have changed. From what we know, he doesn’t plan ahead any longer. He doesn’t consult anymore. Power has brought some changes in him.

OK: The allegations of money laundering through STO were pretty strong during the election campaign. How did you respond to that?

FM: To tell you the truth, I had no details on that. What I see is what you see in the media. I can’t say it is true since I haven’t seen the evidence.

OK: There has been a lot of criticism of how PPM tends to be very family centric. You seem to characterize your father needing your support. In 2013, you backed a candidate who is a part of your family…

FM: Maybe I over-emphasised my father needing me. But if you look back in the later years of his presidency, his supporters began to drift away. The circle [of supporters and advisors] have become ever closer ever closer. It was not by design that I came into this. Unfortunately what happened then happened then, and to an extent happens now is that my father’s supporters are mostly from the less-wealthy, the less well-off people around the country. The corporates tended to be a bit more distant from him. Obviously they would back all candidates, keep their feet in all caps. But they were not reliable for that reason.

So – it’s very difficult for us, especially for myself being my father’s son to be active in politics. It is easy to say I am here because my father is a former president. It is absolutely true – I wouldn’t have been elected by such a large margin if I wasn’t my father’s son. I’ve stayed out of it for a long time, I don’t have any kind of background, Unlike Dunya, she served in the government and the UNDP. I don’t have a background [in politics]. But we are not trying to get positions or achieve things based on our family relationships. Our backing to Yameen wasn’t because he was our uncle. In fact, his primary opponent Umar Naseer was, in fact, closer to us. We judged purely on merit.

OK: Now that you bring him up, Mr Naseer has told me that you didn’t choose to back him because he “was not blood”. His words.

FM: I think that is untrue. I know I made this decision on Mr Yameen’s record.

OK: Mr Naseer is accused of being iron-fisted, Mr Yameen is accused of being corrupt, be it during his time at the STO or alleged involvements with drug trade and criminal gangs. Considering the controversies around both of them, how did you choose between the two? Or was it a choice of the lesser of two evils?

FM: As I said, we brushed off those allegations, regarding both Mr Yameen and Mr Umar Naseer.

OK: Why did you not try to recognize or investigate that? You tell me about how you knew about Mr Yameen through the public domain. But when you throw your support behind a candidate, you of course have to go beyond the public domain.

FM: We did do some investigations, but obviously we were not in a position to get to the core of the issue.

OK: Why not?

FM: We were not in government in 2013. So we wouldn’t know. We would need to see actual evidence before we decide. Same applied to Mr Naseer. His policies were very hard line, be it his stance on the death penalty or other issues, perhaps not ones we shared. We can never get an ideal candidate. We were looking at a selection of people. We had to choose in a way, the person with the least baggage.

OK: If you want to vet a person, it need not be only through police, right? You can have your own vetting processes.

FM: We do, but Mr Yameen had been a part of our political party. He was a political ally for many years. What tends to happen in a party or a team, when you are facing attacks from outside, you defend your own. We knew some of the allegations against my father were simply untrue. It was easy for us to look at right through the same glasses and give them the benefit of doubt. I think this applies to any other political party as well. The due diligence process is not undertaken because the situation is so polarised, so highly charged that you can’t start investigating your own. You can’t look into the background of someone sitting next to you. The fact that he is sitting next to you means that you have to defend him.

OK: In the course of last three years of Mr Yameen’s Presidency, there have been claims made that he has compromised the government machinery, the parliament, the judiciary that has a history of issuing verdicts in his favour and the civil servants that allege that they are manipulated their support to him, like the most recent PPM rally. How do you think he did that?

FM: [pauses] At first, we did not know his intentions, so we backed whatever he did, because he was our candidate, because it was our government. We made way for him, we didn’t object for many months simply because he requested it, be it parliament or any other situations politically. We didn’t try and intrude; we let him have his space. But it became clear after a while that his intentions, I believe, weren’t very pure. We started with a small majority in parliament. He used that to change the parliamentary procedure, to bring amendments to the laws, to enact new laws, to narrow the role of the parliament. At the same time, he severed ties with our coalition allies. And then he convinced some MPs to switch to our side. In time, he gained majority of more than ten. When you have a majority of one or two, every single MP is important; they can make a difference by themselves. But once you have a majority of ten or twelve MPs, then any one or two or three can be dispensed with. In that manner, he has brought the parliament under his control now. The way our system is arranged, once you have the executive and parliament in hand, everything else falls into line.

OK: Including the judiciary, one that’s supposed to be an independent institution?

FM: Including the judiciary. This is my perception because I’m not saying that any one individual advises on how the judiciary makes judgements. But this is what we can conclude from what we’ve seen. The parliament elects members to the JSC [judicial watchdog], the civil services commissioner is on the JSC. Once you have JSC under your control, you have the courts effectively under your control. The JSC might not have power to dismiss judges but it has power to relocate the judges. And that is being used extensively as a tactic. It is very difficult for a judge based in Malé to uproot themselves and their families and move to an atoll as they are used to living in Malé. So we feel they may be influenced on how they judge.

Xiena Saeed: You said that Mr Yameen’s intentions were less than pure. Would you go as far as to say that backing him was a mistake? And what do you think his intentions are now?

FM: It would be conjecture to answer your second question because I don’t know. To answer your first question, my judgement is still reserved. Because, what other options did we have in 2013? If we had not backed President Yameen, we wouldn’t know the outcome of the elections. There were rumours that if the PPM candidate had been Umar Naseer, Yameen would have joined forces with some other candidate. We did not know where we would end up then. We did not have this presidency to compare. Same as in 2008, when we had 30 years of incumbency, and vast majority of citizens didn’t have anything to compare that with. I think we’ve all learned our lessons in the past ten years or so.

OK: I’m going to get a little ahead of myself: in 2018, who do you think the best candidate at this point is?

FM: [laughs] I think I’ll be able to answer that question in 2018.

XS: To go back to what you said about wanting to set things right. Do you have a plan?

FM: I think we do have things that we want to achieve. We do have short-term objectives that will make a difference. We aim to put things right in the parliament first. If we can get some semblance of control within the parliament, at least influence the president’s policies in a manner we are not able to right now. 53-54 MPs supporting the president doesn’t make him reconsider. If its is 40 MPs, plus a bloc of 13 to 14 MPs, then that smaller bloc would have some influence. Then, in the longer term, if we can influence how the parliament operates, we can perhaps repeal few of the recent amendments to the laws, take a new look at the independent institutions, if the JSC, the ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] are functioning properly. We don’t have any oversight now, as things stand. Every institution is a rubber stamp. The parliament is a rubber stamp. All political parties feel that the EC [Elections Commission] is not functioning properly. Through these means, I think we can make a difference.

OK: What was the role that Mr Adeeb played in the government?

FM: At the time or in hindsight? [laughs]

OK: Then and now.

FM: Even before the allegations were made, we had serious concerns about Mr Adeeb’s background, his modus operandi, the links he had with different categories of people, all of these were troubling.

OK: Can we be more specific when we talk about ‘different kinds of people’?

FM: We have seen him being photographed [with them]. He has said it himself that he has links with certain people who have criminal record, or noted by police, who have “different backgrounds”. Criminal backgrounds. We didn’t want those elements to have such an influence in the political process. That was the opposite of what Mr Adeeb wanted. We saw all these campaign slogans about the youth, and he tended to present Maldivian youth as something else. We have an educated youth in the country, but they are marginalized. And the youth that the government keeps referring to are different elements, not part of normal society.

Anyway, we did raise this issue with the president on several occasions, but we were not given a fair hearing. I believe now that most of what he was doing was sanctioned by those above him, sometimes devised by those above him. Mr Adeeb, we believe, did a lot of damage with criminal activities. He is liable, he is to blame for these things, but we also have this culture of patronage. When the public asks you why did you do this, the answer tends to be ‘Because I was ordered to.’ He can get away with that for a lot of things, but not all of them. So I think he should be held accountable for those things, but I don’t think it should just be him who is accountable.

OK: Which of the actions of Mr Adeeb were sanctioned by “those above him”?

FM: These are things I don’t have direct evidence of. But the circumstantial evidence is so, so huge, this is the only conclusion I can come to, and the one that most of the Maldivian public can come to. For example, Mr Adeeb takes blame for a lot of things parliament did back then, including amending the constitution, changing members of the Supreme Court, appointment of the Prosecutor General in the first instance, some irregularities with financial matters, including the MPL matter [when millions of dollars were siphoned from the Maldives Ports Ltd]. I believe people other than Adeeb were in the know.

OK: Mr Adeeb was arrested in October 2015. The audit report implicated him in February. Why does it take so long for this admission?

FM: It seems that these different institutions, including the Auditor General don’t have a particular calendar they stick to. Things come piecemeal. When they need, a certain judgement comes up, to make a certain political statement, some other organization comes up with the statement. You can get a feeling of how the power structure works, for example, at the end of June, the PPM president [Gayoom] made the statement that he opposed a lot of what the government was doing. That was the first instance that he had clearly stated in the public that there were differences. The next day, the anti-corruption committee came up with the statement that the former president is wanted for some questioning. Purely ad-hoc, out of nowhere. We inquired and they said there was no on-going investigation.

XS: What do you think of the Maldives United Opposition? Do you consider them an ally, a possible ally or political rival?

FM: For what we are trying to do right now, we have stated our reform objectives. What we stand for is what they also stand for. We may not agree on all the issues but they are definitely not a rival, right now. On the other hand, there is a difficulty in persuading our supporters that MUO actually has an identity. Some of us painted the MUO as just the MDP plus a handful of individuals. It’s true in the parliament as well. MDP is 21-22 MPs and MUO is 23. They gained only one. As from the individuals that make up the MUO – apart from the MDP, it is Mr Adeeb’s faction, which we have difficult links with to say the least, former Vice President Dr Jameel from the PPM, former Defence Minister Nazim, who used to be PPM – and I think who still are [PPM] technically. Adhaalath, whom we have very good relations as well. And Mr Ameen from the Jumhooree Party, whom we also have very good links with as well. I know for a fact that Defence Minister Nazim, Dr Jameel, even Mahloof, they went with MUO purely because – at that moment in time, we in the PPM weren’t able to anything in their defence, and they had to obviously belong to a political entity to actually have any influence. That is the reason why they drifted towards the MUO.

Personally, I think the MUO’s usefulness has decreased since President Gayoom announced that he is not supportive of the government. Perhaps a new structure or a new way to work is required for now. We understand that we need to work with other elements and we are very open to working with the MDP, AP, JP to try and put things right. Obviously this may not extend beyond our immediate goals. We don’t see us agreeing on one candidate in 2018 or anything like that. But if we are clear on targets, or on the limits of how we’d work together, I think there is every room, and a necessity to work together.

XS: There is talk of negotiations between your father’s faction and the MDP. Why haven’t they shared a platform?

FM: We’re willing to work with anyone and everyone who shares our objectives to reform the executive and the powers of state and bring them in line with democracy and constitution. I think there’s a huge consensus between us and the MDP on these matters.

OK: At the rate you are proceeding with your reform agenda, do you think we can expect to see a change before 2018 elections?

FM: Yes. Very much earlier.

XS: What about your brother, Ghassan?

FM: [smiles] What about him?

XS: To put things in context, at a PPM rally in Raa Atoll on Saturday, Yameen made some controversial comments aimed at your father. Your brother Ghassan was present. Your father has said that he is working with the government on some projects and that he makes his own decisions. But how does this work?

FM: This question comes at me several times a day. What my father said stands true. We are all adults and we make our own decisions. Our father has never asked us or influenced us to do anything specific. I decided to contest for parliament, for which I gave my father the right to veto, well, he didn’t veto, so I ran. Dunya and Yumna – when they resigned, it was their decision. We talk about politics very openly in the family. We understand Ghassan’s position. What we know, what we believe is that he will be faithful to the country and he will not do anything out of personal interest. Whatever his decision, he is the best person to answer that obviously. If he feels his position has become untenable, he will move aside. There wouldn’t be anything holding him back when the time comes.

XS: Do you think there’s something holding him back from taking your side now?

FM: No. Although he holds a political position, his work is very technical. He’s in charge of overseeing some projects. He is not involved with whatever political decisions President Yameen makes about former President Gayoom or former President Nasheed. He is not within that close circle. So [Ghassan] can go to work, do his job and go home everyday and come back with integrity.

OK: Since last year, Mr Nasheed started calling for Mr Yameen’s resignation. Nearly 20,000 people came on the streets at one point. Did that not make you revise your impression of Mr. Yameen?

FM: One thing may be that our assessment of numbers is different. But you must appreciate our position. President Gayoom has done something that not many politicians are able to do. Midterm, he has decided that things have become so bad that he had to withdraw his support. Now this not normally done – it is not the done thing. For a long time, he has refrained from doing so – we have advised him, others have advised him for more than eighteen months now – that things were becoming very bad. At the time you mentioned, we had started realizing that things were not going as we hoped. But when it came to the opposition protests, we again closed ranks. At the time, we were very firmly behind President Yameen. When a bit of a confrontation occurs with your political opponents, you tend to forget your differences and then regroup. That’s what happened in May last year. But we were still trying internally. I know with President Nasheed’s arrest, we asked [Yameen], why the rush? We had this almost magical opportunity at the end of 2013, early 2014, that there was really no vocal opposition. If we had played wisely, let the opposition have its views, not go after them, but try and simmer down these political divides, then we had a really good opportunity to do that for about nine months. But I believe it was a mistake to start going after political opponents. It heated this thing up. We were trying to influence the president, asked him why there was a rush to lock people up, to bring about huge sentences, and said that we needed to move on. From that stage on, our advice was rejected.

OK: Since then and until recently, there have been overt and covert attempts made to bring about a transition of government. What do you think goes wrong?

FM: I think one of the elements is his pure political strength. President Yameen is very powerful. He may not have public support but if you look at parliament, there are effectively 60 odd members that support him. MDP obviously has a lot of support within the public, but that doesn’t translate into political power midterm. That’s the essential difficulty. What needs to happen is that MPs need to stand up, and say that they’ve been elected to achieve this and that. My votes state that I should act in this manner. I think that process is happening now. It wasn’t happening 18 months ago.

OK: The pillars of support of the government: the parliament, the judiciary, the security forces. What do you think held them back?

FM: One factor is purely time. We were backing President Yameen in November 2013. We were trying to influence and advice him internally. But we held the same position for people on the outside, as one strong bloc. It takes time to realize that perhaps what we did may not have been right. It takes time realise and accept that that one may have been wrong. It is very difficult to do it politically. It takes even longer to say, okay, I don’t want this anymore. We have to change this. It’s a matter of time. We were backing president Yameen in his first few months [as president] and we helped him to amass power, to get that majority in the parliament. We helped him with all of his suggestions to the independent commissions. We helped him build this power base.

OK: I’d like to understand more of Mr Yameen as a person.

FM: [laughing] Perhaps I am not the right person to ask. I know very little. I know very little about him.

OK: I’m sure you have heard from people who are close to him. You said that power has changed him.

FM: That isn’t from any closeness to him, but rather from judging him from how he operates. He was a cabinet minister for a long time. He was member of parliament. If you looked at his speeches, his debates, earlier, they were very structured, based on facts. We used to think he had a very well developed, professional method of operating. He made fact-based decisions, he would consult, he would plan. We don’t see that anymore. Not in the government’s decision-making processes, not in his policies, not when he speaks now. He is just all over the place. It seems like he doesn’t write his speeches or prepare anymore. Simply because I don’t think he has anyone advising him or criticising him from the inside. Everyone asks me why he says the things he says now. So much of what he says is damaging to him personally. Yet he keeps on saying that. That’s markedly different from what he was three-four years ago.

OK: How do you think the international community responds to him now?

FM: International community has, I’m afraid to say, been very weak in protecting democracy in the Maldives.

OK: Why is that?

FM: The international community is very removed from the Maldives. The community at large relies on our neighbours to keep the Maldives on track. Strategic interests come into play and we don’t actually know what the government’s dealings are with many foreign powers. I don’t think many people in the government know. It is only a handful of people who know what our strategic commitments are. I think the answer would lie there.

XS: There was talk of targeted sanctions at one point. Is that something you would support at this point?

FM: Travel bans or… I think that will be quite useful. Any other instruments would be too blunt and damage the whole country.

XS: Useful in the sense of…?

FM: It would send a signal that the international community was seriously concerned. We’ve had statements, tweets, advice behind closed doors, but they won’t work. They’ve done absolutely nothing. If things don’t go right, the government will come on top, saying it was right to do this, challenging the Commonwealth, challenging the international community at large. We don’t for a minute believe that we are super independent, that we can have an insular, inward looking economy. We cannot exist in this manner. We import every single thing we consume. So the international community needs to put their words into action. Now it is delaying, delaying, delaying. We are told that President Gayoom withdrawing his support has had a positive impact but how much more do they need? If you take a walk down the street, you will know that the popularity of the government is extremely low.

OK: And yet, when there are anti-government protests these days, they don’t show up.

FM: Because we have amended the laws. We believe that they are unconstitutional amendments. We control the right to assembly, we amended the laws for defamation and again there’s a culture of fear. If you are seen in a protest, all kinds of things can happen. You may lose your job, your business may go out of existence, you will face lawsuits, taken up with a charge of criminal offense. I understand there are 2000 people with pending charges against them for criminal activity at any given time… The timings of these things are ad-hoc. One day you will see the protestor on street, next day they get served with a summons. He made a statement one day and the next day, the court case sitting for months at the high court suddenly, coincidentally, gets put on the agenda. When these things happen to influential individuals, the common man is rather more careful. He has a lot more to lose.

OK: All these things you tell me seems to point in one direction: would you agree with the assessment that Maldives has gone towards a dictatorship?

FM: Yes.

OK: How long has that been going on for?

FM: It started in early 2014. We’ve been part of that unfortunately. We have helped [the president] to get powers under control. But I think there are serious flaws in the constitutional structure. I think it needs to be amended. On one hand, we see what happens when the executive and the president have power with their majority in parliament. But on the other hand, in 2010-2012, we have seen what happens when the executive did not have parliamentary majority. In both cases, the citizens suffer. We need to look at that as well in due time. But now is not the time.

OK: Some would go one step further and say Maldives has reverted to a dictatorship.

FM: [smiles] I think people are reassessing, now. But I speak as a biased individual. I cannot move away from being my father’s son. But let me speak objectively from what I know and what I believe. If for example you see these allegations of what President Yameen has done with this new constitution, where there is a clear separation of powers, clear oversight, no executive meddling, or influence in the judiciary, and you read the allegations about how the MPs have become rich, all these allegations of corrupt practices. You compare these three years with those 30 years. Now, if the president then had legally lawfully held all those powers – now he doesn’t – look what he has done, what he’s achieved. If you compare 30 years of presidency under those conditions, those laws, a less mature citizenry, when the presidend has the ability to do more by decree or executive order. If you compare how many resorts President Gayoom or his family owns, whether they are millionaires or billionaires or whatever. Did they influence the court judgements the way it’s allegedly been done now, I think you should reassess that question.

XS: Do you think your father was democratic in his years?

FM: I would say he was. In many cases, the constitution did not provide for much of taking advice or consultation. For example, I think it wasn’t even written the president should seek advice of the cabinet, but he institutionalised that practice. Now you see this practice written in the constitution but you don’t see [Yameen] doing that. [Gayoom] went out of his way – the last appeal of the judicial process at the time went to the executive. He himself had the right to pardon or overrule any high court decision. But he formalised a three member committee, so that he stepped back from there. He gave away his powers. If you look at the run up to 2008, he wasn’t in any way necessitated to give away his powers, yet he chose to do so. In 1981-82, he submitted to his cabinet that we should authorise political parties. The cabinet advised him that the country wasn’t ready for it. He tried it later as well, but he was overruled.

XS: What would you say about the jailing of political opponents? Was that necessary?

FM: I don’t think he personally ordered anyone to be jailed.

XS: But he was obviously aware that this was going on.

FM: He would have been made aware. But I’m speaking as an observer, not having seen the actual process, or documentation of it – he would have been informed and he would inquire under what charged. He would make sure that whatever was done was within the law, that the laws provided for that.

XS: Regarding allegations of torture, there’s a lot of interviews about what took place within the prison system in those three decades. What is your response?

FM: I would say that he wasn’t aware of these things. But not being aware is not an excuse. It is not an excuse for it. He was not aware – and in the instances that he was made aware, he investigated them. Maybe the investigation process, maybe these independent institutions were not that good. Simply because in many cases, they would have to ask the accused and perhaps there were no other channels to go through. There being no independent institutions to do that – that was a handicap. Lot of things were perhaps perpetrated, perhaps without his knowledge, that took place within closed circles with no knowledge or information going outside from people in authority, in positions of power. The up flow of information can be shut off at any stage. That perhaps happened, to an extent. And also, we were coming from a culture that did not treat prisoners as human beings, we have a long history of that. I know for a fact, what they called the andhagondi [stocks], was outlawed within 2 years of my father’s presidency. It had existed for centuries. It was technically outlawed. But I cannot say it didn’t happen afterwards. But to his knowledge, he was never informed of any such goings-on.

OK: In closing, were you ever surprised at the treatment your father has received after he made his differences vocal?

FM: Surprised? No. We expected and we planned for this. And we have planned for even more.

OK: You think it’ll get worse?

FM: They may get worse. We have planned for that.

OK: When I came to this country, I had heard that Mr Gayoom was one of the tallest leaders here, with a lot of support within the government machinery. When Mr Yameen is using the same machinery against him, it doesn’t seem to put up much resistance. Has his influence decreased?

FM: It’s again this culture of fear. People in high positions, perhaps about seventy or eighty percent of them, would in private say that what Mr Yameen is doing is not right. But the minute you ask them to state that fact in public, they’ll step back because they are fearful for their jobs, their families, their business interests.

XS: We see Mr Yameen simultaneously trying to woo your father back and trying to ridicule him, to the extent that he referred to the two MPs who submitted the case against him as the two dhandehelu [national heroes]. Is he benefiting from this rift? Does he want your father back?

FM: I think he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He doesn’t know what he wants.

XS: And the back and forth is a sign of this…

FM: Yes.

XS: When your father withdrew support, he said that he will not go back. Will he stand by that?

FS: It will. My father will not say yes to the kind of corruption that is going on, to the draconian laws that have been enacted, he wouldn’t say yes to the meddling in other institutions, to much of what’s going on. My father doesn’t see President Yameen retracting any of this. So there won’t be any reconciliation. I think you can be pretty sure of that.