Who Is Incharge?
Sibling rivalry between brothers Maumoun Abdul Gayoom and his half brother Yameen Abdul Gayoom – leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The Maldives needs to look for fresh leadership to move forward on the road to democracy.
There is a tug of war between two brothers for the control of the Maldives.
The bedrock of democracy is the rule of law and that means to have an independent judiciary – an institution where judges are not subject to pressure and influence and are free to take impartial decisions based solely on fact and law. Whenever and wherever justice is sold to the highest bidder, democratic norms are flouted. The Maldives is an instance.
According to a recent Al Jazeera report, text message conversations reveal that the judiciary in the Maldives is far from independent. Senior judges have received money and luxury flats and meet regularly with the president and his deputy, who meddle in high-profile cases and judicial appointments. In one text message, the former prosecutorgeneral declared absolute loyalty to Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and promised "no one can touch" him. In
another, a Supreme Court judge, Ali Hameed, assured the vice president: "We will remain soldiers till the mission is over in 2018! Or 2023 ? Hah! hah ! Hah !"
So it’s not at all surprising that to manipulate the exit of Maumoun Abdul Gayoom as the Head of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), his half brother Yameen Abdul Gayoom resorted to the Gayoom family’s favourite toy — the Maldives judiciary. One of the many judges on Yameen’s payroll issued a ‘court ruling’ handing over the chair of PPM to Yameen. Interestingly enough the judge was none other than Haleem Bai, a ‘journalist’ turned Civil Court judge appointed by Yameen. He ruled that PPM now belongs to Yameen because Maumoon is too interfering and has brought the party to a grinding halt.
As a matter of fact, Maumoon has been a victim of his own creation — one of the most corrupt judiciaries in the world — which, according to a veteran Maldives journalist, “has finally turned around and bit the hand of its Master. Maumoon’s party engineered and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) the first and once the largest political party in the Maldives, allowed the dismissal of Article 285 of the 2008 Constitution which defined the basis of appointing experienced and qualified judges. Had it been followed, it would have cleaned the judiciary of the many inexperienced, unqualified and sometimes criminal figures Maumoon put on the benches during his 30-year rule.”
Interestingly enough the future course of democracy in Pakistan, to a great extent, depends on the efficiency of the courts and the integrity of judges. Commenting on the judgment on the Panama Leaks case, the outgoing Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali has said that the courts cannot announce verdicts to please someone or in the face of pressure due to media hype.
Speaking at a ceremony, Justice Jamali said the courts in Pakistan were completely independent in their judgments and they were not under any kind of pressure. "For us, delivering justice is the most important thing," he said.
"We cannot give a verdict to please someone or by getting under pressure because of media hype,” the chief justice of Pakistan said. "The judicial system is not just meant for verdicts, it is rather meant for providing justice to people."
He warned that prevailing social evils were weakening the country and if other institutions fail to do their job, then the judiciary is charged with double responsibility. Let’s hope our judiciary is competent enough to shoulder the double responsibility.
To end the dispute once for all, President Yameen insisted that there should not be any further discussions within the ruling party and urged members to unite in a bid to resolve the differences.“If there are problems within our party, I strongly suggest that we find a way to resolve it,” he stressed. PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen then decided to amend the law, putting an age cap of 65 years for political party leaders in a bid to oust Gayoom. The amendment thus put an end to Gayoom’s era as the PPM leader for ever.
In the 2013 elections the PPM nominated Yameen as its presidential candidate but Maumoon continued as head of the party. Both were happy with their respective positions enjoying the authority constitutionally granted to them until June, when Maumoon as the Head of the party opposed a bill amending the Constitution to allow Maldivian territory to be siphoned off and sold to anyone interested --empowering the government to lease islands for development as resorts without competitive bidding. His son, an MP, voted against it and was expelled from the party. The same day his daughter, Dunya Maumoon also resigned as foreign minister.
Sibling rivalry led to the division of PPM as Maumoon withdrew his support from the Yameen-led government. The rift between the brothers led to split of party into two factions -- Maumoon’s loyalists and Yameen’s loyalists. Ironically, the ultimate breakup took place on the fifth anniversary of PPM. Maumoon the party’s founder who groomed his younger brother Yameen and made him the president of the country was very intelligently removed from the political scene of the Maldives, declaring him obsolete and an obstacle to the government.
Just hours after Maumoon’s PPM Council meeting, Yameen held his own PPM Council meeting. Chairing the council meeting of his faction, Mamoun appointed a new Secretary General and made it clear that his brother had finally overstepped the limits. At his own Council meeting, Yameen did the same as his brother — he elected a new Secretary General and appointed other loyalists to key positions.
Though the rift between the two brothers started soon after Yameen took oath as the president, the last nail in the coffin was Mamoun’s refusal to endorse Yameen as the PPM’s candidate for the presidential election in 2018. Yameen’s supporters dragged the dispute into the courts, where Mamoun’s decision was superseded and he was replaced by Yameen as the leader of the party. He now holds the posts of both President of the country as well as the head of the party.
With both the important position in hand, there will be no check and balance on Yameen. According to the constitution he can remain in power as long his party wants him. Now that he is also the head of the party, he has nothing to worry and continue as the President of the country as long as he wants without any obstacle. The absolute power has negative aspects too and history is replete with the miserable fate of dictators.
Injustice and absolute power tend to breed corruption. Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit very recently exposed massive corruption at the top of the Maldives government, including theft, bribery and money laundering. President Yameen is accused of receiving cash in bags filled with up to $1m -- so much that it was "difficult to carry," according to one of the men who delivered the money.
According to recent reports there is growing threat of a coup. The Maldives became a democracy in 2008 when Mohamed Nasheed became its first freely-elected leader, ending three decades of autocratic rule under Yameen’s half-brother, Maumoon. Since Yameen came to power in 2013, he has enacted a series of increasingly draconian laws. Under his rule, hundreds of political activists have faced charges and several senior figures have been given long jail sentences, including Nasheed, who was painted as antiIslamic and now lives in self-imposed exile in the UK. Reports have emerged that a group of exiled opposition leaders — including Nasheed — had met in Sri Lanka, planning how to oust President Yameen.
The Maldives belongs to Maumoun or Yameen? The answer is simple; it neither belongs to Mamoun nor Yameen --- the corrupt ones. It will ultimately belong to the people of the Maldives.