Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom shot down his half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom move to dictate the party’s representation in the imminent all party talks.
The former president, locked in a bitter power struggle with his half brother had nominated his son, Dhiggaru MP Faaris Maumoon and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim — both from his faction to the Commonwealth led talks with the government — designed to find a resolution to the protracted political strife in the archipelago.
Government however had asked all political parties to have the representatives for the imminent all party talks passed by the councils of the respective parties
The row between the Gayoom brothers has split PPM in two ever since the elder Gayoom attempted to block government proposed amendment to the Tourism Act.
Gayoom had moved quickly to assume full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down the amendment which sought to bypass the bidding process in island lease for tourism.
Gayoom soon after announced a reform program in a desperate bid to wrestle back control of his party had labelled the amendment as a clear violation of the party’s charter.
The party’s disciplinary committee had ignored a ban on all party sit-downs imposed by Gayoom to vote out Faaris from the party.
In an unprecedented turn of events, a faction loyal to Yameen had walked out of the last PPM council meeting in protest against the presence of Faaris in the council.
Gayoom had called in the emergency council meeting after a long hiatus in a bid to resolve the rift with his half brother Yameen and push his reform program.
Soon after, two PPM lawmakers in a bid to wrest party control from Gayoom filed a lawsuit last month claiming that Gayoom had hijacked the party by suspending its internal committees and announcing a reform agenda.
The elder Gayoom in a letter to his half brother said the present “situation” within the party was not conducive to hold a council meeting noting that several members had walked out of the last one and had later filed a lawsuit against him.
The letter also reminded president Yameen that Gayoom as the party leader was obligated to run the party and had nominated representatives to the party talks with that authority.
The government’s attempt to dictate party representatives for the talks was met by heavy criticism from the political parties including PPM.
Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the government had no grounds to make such a demand.
As the parties function independently and in accordance with their respective charters such a condition was described as ‘moot’ by the parties.
Government meanwhile, has agreed to the opposition demand for a United Nations (UN) mediator in the talks to resolve the continued political strife in the archipelago.
The government had moved quickly to invite the main opposition parties to designate representatives for the talks after Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) placed Maldives on its formal agenda and warned the island nation suspension from the Commonwealth if the government failed to make progress on a proposed reform agenda.
CMAG had laid out a six-point reform agenda in February, which includes the release of political prisoners and judicial reform.
However, during a review meeting late last month the ministers expressed deep disappointment at the lack of progress in the priority areas.
CMAG had also called on both sides to compromise and sit-down for dialogue without any pre-conditions.
MDP and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) had said it would honour the Commonwealth’s push for dialogue but had asked the government to involve a UN mediator in the sit-downs.
In addition to the Commonwealth, the United Nations had also initiated proxy talks after the main opposition parties refused to sit-down with government demanding the release of all jailed political leaders as a pre-condition for the talks earlier this year.
The UN had appointed Tamrat Samuel as its envoy who arrived in the Maldives in July to revive the all-party talks which had remained stalled as the with the government and opposition at loggerheads over the release of jailed political leaders.
Despite renouncing pre-conditions for talks with the government, both MDP and Adhaalath had said it would push to free jailed opposition leaders including former president Mohamed Nasheed and AP president Sheikh Imran Abdulla.