Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Monday hinted at backing arch nemesis former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the ongoing power struggle for the ruling party control with half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz hailed Gayoom’s recent efforts to reform the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
The rift between the two brothers widened over a government proposed controversial amendment to the Tourism Act.
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 party’s 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.
“The PPM parliamentary group has acted in violation of the party council’s decisions which includes amendments to the constitution and laws governing this country,” Gayoom said.
He also admitted that the move to launch a reform program came after many futile attempts to resolve the divisions within the party.
Shifaz insisted that the path Gayoom has now taken will lead him towards MDP.
He also said that the former president truly commands ruling party support and still has the ability to reform the party.
“President Gayoom ruled for a long time. He has the support of the people. Gayoom is the most popular figure among PPM supporters as opposed to president Yameen,” Shifaz said.
Shifaz’s statement comes after MDP leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed had praised the efforts of Gayoom to reform the ruling party.
Nasheed who is living in exile in the UK took to Twitter to voice his support and insisted that all political leaders must take the initiative to resolve the problems facing the country.
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.
Shortly before the PG group’s decision, Gayoom had rallied key members of the party including Umar to his side and constituted an advisory council to find a solution to the deep divisions within the party he founded.
During the press conference Gayoom said the petition to gift the presidential ticket to Yameen had reportedly been coerced.