High Court orders ruling party control handover to Maldives pres

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom speaks at the inauguration of the first Maldives Investment Forum held in Singapore in 2014. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom speaks at the inauguration of the first Maldives Investment Forum held in Singapore in 2014. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

The High Court on Sunday upheld the lower court’s order that ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom hand over party control to his half-brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The civil lawsuit was filed against Maumoon by Hulhudhoo MP Mohamed Shahid and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam, two lawmakers loyal to president Yameen, after the public fallout between the two half-brothers divided PPM into two factions. The lawsuit accused the elder Gayoom of violating the party charter and impeding its effective functioning.

The High Court judges had unanimously concurred that the Civil Court’s verdict warrants no further changes.

Prior to the verdict, High Court Chief Judge Abdullah Didi declared that Gayoom had clearly objected to party council meetings as mandated by its charter but had failed to provide appropriate justification for it. As Gayoom’s actions impede party functioning, he stated that judiciary courts are within their rights to provide suitable solutions.

PPM control to President Yameen is in best public interest

In light of the elder Gayoom’s refusal to hold party council meetings and the recent removal of PPM’s vice president Abdul Raheem Abdullah from his post, Chief Judge Abdullah stated that handing over party control to the president is in the best interest of the public.

He also noted the lack of act or law defining the next course of action should a party leader refuse to hold its council meetings, in which case the judiciary is authorised to intervene.

PPM absence from court, licit criminal procedure

Chief Judge Abdullah further stressed that PPM had refused summons to the lower court on four counts, declining to be held accountable with various excuses such as lack of a party council resolution.

However, the judge noted during the final hearing, which PPM attended, that the party council had approved a resolution in 2013. The Civil Court had followed licit criminal procedures under the circumstances, he stated.

Appellant within rights to appeal the case

Following the lower court’s verdict, PPM member Abbas Wafir had privately appealed the case at the High Court, which had prompted criticism from Gayoom that Wafir had not been within rights to appeal.

The Chief Judge riposted the criticism, declaring that Wafir was fully within his right as he is a member of PPM and the case’s repercussions affect the whole party.

Joining Chief Judge Abdullah Didi on the bench were judges Abdullah Hameed and Ali Sameer.

High Court’s verdict – highlights

  • Under the present circumstances, handing over control of PPM to President Yameen is in the best interests of the public.
  • Gayoom’s refusal to hold party council meetings was a violation of the party charter and impeded effective functioning.
  • Courts are authorised to provide solutions for cases without specified laws or acts, and is not considered as interfering with party operations.
  • Criminal procedure during case hearings were licit.

The High Court’s verdict came at a time when Gayoom had filed his own appeal at the High Court. While his case proceedings have not commenced yet, it seems unlikely that his appeal will be accepted in light of Sunday’s final verdict.

Gayoom’s legal party had also put forward the argument that Wafir had appealed Gayoom’s case without his knowledge to pilfer the latter’s right to appeal. However, the judges had not permitted Gayoom’s legal party to elaborate on this point. Wafir is said to be a close friend of MP Mohamed Shahid, one of the two plaintiffs of the lawsuit.

PPM’s representatives at the court hearing were of President Yameen’s faction, who had advocated against Gayoom and defended the Civil Court’s ruling.

The lower court’s verdict had given rise to two councils in PPM, one from each faction. The councils are electing members for party positions, both declaring that their faction is the “real PPM”.

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