Maldives foreign minister resigns over death penalty row with govt

A file photo shows foreign minister Dhunya Maumoon at a press conference. MIHAARU PHOTO

A file photo shows foreign minister Dhunya Maumoon at a press conference. MIHAARU PHOTO

Maldives foreign minister Dhunya Maumoon stepped down Tuesday over what she described as a profound differences of opinion with the government’s bid to enforce the death penalty.

In a statement shared with the media, Dunya said the resignation was “one of the most difficult decisions” she has taken.

“Yet, the decision became inevitable because of the profound differences of opinion on the government’s policy in implementing the death penalty at a time when serious questions are being asked, and concerns being expressed, about the delivery of justice in the Maldives,” she said.

“I remain convinced that the Government’s policy on death penalty, decided on a hasty fashion, would be detrimental to the image and reputation of the Maldives and would be a significant obstacle in achieving the President [Abdulla] Yameen’s foreign policy goals, and building a resilient Maldives,” she added.

Maldives overturned a six-decade-old moratorium on capital punishment with the adoption of a new regulation in 2014 that allows for the death penalty to be used to punish certain crimes.

Government had also amended capital punishment law to adopt hanging in addition to lethal injection as a method of execution as it ignored concerns by the opposition and international partners.

Dhunya’s sudden resignation comes in the wake of a widening rift between her father former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and her uncle, incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The rift between the two brothers widened over a government proposed controversial amendment to the Tourism Act.

Shortly before Dunya’s announcement, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives expelled her brother, MP Faaris Maumoon, for voting against a government tourism bill at Gayoom’s request.

Gayoom last week had assumed 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.

However, the government controlled parliament on Wednesday passed the amendment with all the ruling party lawmakers except two, voting to defy Gayoom .

Gayoom after announcing a reform program in a bid to wrestle back control of his party told reporters late Thursday that the amendment to the Tourism Act was a clear violation of the partys charter.

He also said the PPM parliamentary group which controls the parliament had ignored and defied several requests to follow the party’s democratic values.

He also admitted that the move to launch a reform program came after many futile attempts to resolve the divisions within the party.

PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen had 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.

The PPM parliamentary group’s decision to oust Gayoom who is now 80 came shortly after a sit-down with president Yameen.

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.

Meanwhile, the country’s graft watchdog is set to question the elder Gayoom over several corruption allegations during his last year at office in 2008.

 

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