Maldives court lifts Gayoom enforced ban on ruling party councils

Former president Gayoom waves as he leaves the PPM office after a meeting last week. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Former president Gayoom waves as he leaves the PPM office after a meeting last month. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Civil Court on Thursday lifted a ban on ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) council sit-downs by party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Two PPM lawmakers in a bid to wrest party control from former president Gayoom filed a lawsuit last month claiming that Gayoom had hijacked the party by suspending its internal committees and announcing a reform agenda.

The lawsuit came in the wake of a bitter internal power struggle between the Gayoom and his half brother incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

MPs Mohamed Shahid and Ahmed Shiyam loyal to president Yameen had filed the complaint because “the party does not belong to one man.”

The case headed to trial after the dispute resolution sit-downs ended in a stalemate.

The rift between the two brothers widened over the elder Gayoom’s move 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 his lawmaker son Faaris Maumoon and another council member Aminath Nadhira from the party.

Nadhira served as the executive coordinator at the gender ministry before being dismissed after speaking publicly in support of Gayoom.

But Gayoom has refused to ax his son and Nadhira from the party insisting that the disciplinary committee had been held in violation of the party’s charter.

In an unprecedented turn of events, a faction loyal to Yameen had walked out of a PPM council meeting last month in protest against the presence of Faaris and Nadhira in the council.

The majority of the council loyal to Yameen insisted that members voted out of the party by the disciplinary committee had no place 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.

Some member loyal to the elder Gayoom believe that president Yameen had ordered the walkout.

PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen have meanwhile have decided to amend the law putting an age cap of 65 years for political party leaders in a bid to oust Gayoom.

The amendment would effectively put an end to Gayoom’s rein as the PPM leader.

Gayoom had also recently rejected a petition by the party council to gift the party’s presidential ticket to president Yameen for his re-election in 2018 without a primary.

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