Maldives pres looks to sway nephew with parliament promise

PPM leader Gayoom's son, Ghassan (L) looks on as his father (C) exits the party office after a press conference on Sunday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

PPM leader Gayoom’s son, Ghassan (L) looks on as his father (C) exits the party office after a press conference on Sunday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom Thursday looked to sway his nephew — youngest son of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to his faction of the now divided party with the promise of a parliament seat.

Ghassan Maumoon is the only child of the elder Gayoom who has thus far refused to take sides in the bitter power struggle between his father and uncle.

The Gayoom brothers appear to have shared custody of Ghassan, who still serves as the state minister at the president’s office but continues to attend council sit-downs from both the factions.

The elder Gayoom’s daughters, Dhunya Maumoon who served as the foreign minister and Yumna Maumoon who was the state education minister had resigned before the rift emerged.

Gayoom had assumed full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down a government proposed amendment to the Tourism Act which sought to bypass the bidding process in island lease for tourism.

The resistance from Gayoom quite glaringly irked his brother especially after he began to publicly criticize and oppose recently passed controversial laws.

Gayoom however, has described the laws to restrict protests, media and free speech as clear violations of the party’s value and charter.

The rift between the brothers deepened after Gayoom’s lawmaker son voted against recent government proposed laws prompting his uncle to oust him from the party.

The party’s disciplinary committee had ignored a ban on all party sit-downs imposed by Gayoom to oust his lawmaker son Faaris Maumoon who had voted against the tourism Act amendment from the party.

Gayoom quickly rejected the disciplinary committee’s ruling and announced a reform program in a desperate bid to wrestle back control of his party.

Soon after, the elder Gayoom called a council sit-down in an attempt to resolve the rift, only to witness a faction loyal to Yameen walk out of the meeting.

Any hope for the two brothers to mend ties soon evaporated after two PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen filed a lawsuit claiming that Gayoom had hijacked the party by suspending its internal committees and announcing a reform agenda.

The civil court Sunday, ordered the elder Gayoom to handover control to his half brother in the capacity of chief advisor which is a default position afforded to the party’s successful presidential candidate by the party’s charter.

The civil lawsuit filed by two lawmakers loyal to president Yameen accused the elder Gayoom of violating the party charter and impeding its effective functioning.

The court had ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, finding Gayoom guilty of violating the constitution, party charter and political party law.
Gayoom had moved quickly to rally council members loyal to him and held a meeting where members had backed his decision to ax three members from the party including deputy leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla.

The council had also filled the vacant secretary general’s post and signed off on Gayoom’s reform program.

Hours later president Yameen chaired a council meeting of his own with his council also appointing a new secretary general.

Ghassan had attended both council sit-downs.

Speaking during a ceremony held to mark the defection of government aligned Jumhoory Party (JP) lawmaker Ilham Ahmed to PPM, president Yameen looked to win-over Ghassan by heaping praise on his nephew.
“Ghassan has a bright political future. I will make sure he gets elected from a good constituency in the next parliamentary elections,” Yameen added.

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