Power Moves

The ex­pul­sion of Mau­moon Gay­oom shows there is no room for a cease­fire be­tween the former and cur­rent pres­i­dents of the Mal­dives. The po­lit­i­cal re­align­ment on the is­land por­tends tough times ahead for the cur­rent Pres­i­dent.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Hafiz Inam

Fight­ing sib­lings cause a power vac­cuum in the Mal­dives.

In what seems to be an an­tic­i­pated move fol­low­ing the year-long con­tention be­tween former and cur­rent pres­i­dents of the Mal­dives, the ethics com­mit­tee of the Pro­gres­sive Party of the Mal­dives (PPM) has ex­pelled the party founder, former pres­i­dent Mau­moon Ab­dul Gay­oom. The ex­pul­sion came af­ter a no­con­fi­dence mo­tion against the Speaker was quelled bru­tally in the Ma­jlis (par­lia­ment) by Pres­i­dent Yameen. The rul­ing PPM be­lieves the ex­pul­sion was in line with the party con­sti­tu­tion and will not ag­gra­vate the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. How­ever it ap­pears the au­thor­i­ta­tive pol­i­tics of Pres­i­dent Yameen have com­pelled the party to take such a

dras­tic mea­sure. Ap­pre­hen­sions are rife in the coun­try that the ex­pul­sion will have im­pli­ca­tions on the over­all po­lit­i­cal sce­nario.

Mau­moon Ab­dul Gay­oom re­mained an un­con­tested pres­i­dent of the Mal­dives for 30 years from 1978 to 2008. In 2008 he lost the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion against Mo­hamed Nasheed of the Mal­di­vian Demo­cratic Party ( MDP). Later in 2011 af­ter his res­ig­na­tion from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party he founded the Pro­gres­sive Party of the Mal­dives (PPM). The PPM be­came the rul­ing party in 2013 when its pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ab­dul­lah Yameen bagged a vic­tory in the runoff against Nasheed. An­a­lysts say that the vic­tory was an out­come of the al­liance the PPM made with the Jamhooree Party of Qasim Ibrahim just days be­fore the elec­tion.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ab­dul Gay­oom and his half-brother Yameen re­mained con­vivial in the be­gin­ning. But once Gay­oom re­fused to en­dorse Pres­i­dent Yameen as the un­con­tested pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the PPM for the next elec­tion their re­la­tions turned sour. Ac­cord­ing to the rules, if Pres­i­dent Yameen had com­pleted his five-year ten­ure, he would be­come el­i­gi­ble to con­test the elec­tion. But the god­fa­ther of the party thought oth­er­wise. Gay­oom even snubbed an in­vi­ta­tion from the party cam­paign of­fice to at­tend a meet­ing re­gard­ing the train­ing of cam­paign lead­ers for Yameen’s 2018 re-elec­tion bid. This es­ca­lated fric­tions within the party. Con­se­quently, the party was split into two groups. Al­though the court has handed over party con­trol from Gay­oom to Yameen, both fac­tions claim they rep­re­sent the real PPM.

Since the PPM has been di­vided into two, “ex­pul­sion” pol­i­tics have be­come con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics. First, the ethics com­mit­tee of the party ex­pelled a few loy­al­ists of Gay­oom. In a knee-jerk re­ac­tion, Gay­oom dis­missed the ethics com­mit­tee. Then his son Faris Gay­oom was ex­pelled by the dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee in July 2016 for vot­ing against the “Tourism Bill” which al­lowed the govern­ment to award is­lands for sale with­out the re­quired bid­ding process. This ex­pul­sion was fol­lowed by the ex­pul­sions of Dhunya Mau­moon and Yumna Mau­moon (daugh­ters of Gay­oom), Ma­hamed Nadeem (sonin-law of Gay­oom) and the former pres­i­dent’s loy­al­ist Ami­nath Athifa. Just be­fore oust­ing Gay­oom from the party, the dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee also ex­pelled Mo­hamed Wa­heed Ibrahim – an­other loy­al­ist of the former pres­i­dent. He was among the rul­ing party law­mak­ers who stood firm with Gay­oom in the PPM lead­er­ship dis­pute.

The rift in the party en­cour­aged Gay­oom to join hands with his former ri­vals, in­clud­ing the MDP and the Jamhooree Party (JP). In Oc­to­ber 2016 he met with the pres­i­dent of the JP, Qasim Ibrahim. Then in Septem­ber 2016 Gay­oom met with the ex­iled leader and former pres­i­dent Nasheed in Sri Lanka to dis­cuss na­tional pol­i­tics. Some years ago it would have been im­pos­si­ble to think Nasheed mak­ing an al­liance with Gay­oom who sent him to jail many times but things has changed now. Af­ter the meet­ing, Nasheed said, “Yameen’s days are num­bered, regime change is im­mi­nent.” This po­lit­i­cal re­align­ment trig­gered a strong dis­ap­proval from Yameen’s fac­tion and Mau­moon Gay­oom was dis­lodged from the party sub­se­quently.

In a his­toric move on March 24, 2017 an un­likely com­bi­na­tion of lead­ers came to­gether and forged an op­po­si­tion al­liance called the Mal­dives United Op­po­si­tion (MUO). The coali­tion in­cludes Mau­moon Gay­oom, the largest op­po­si­tion party in the House – the MDP, the Jamhooree Party and the Ad­haalath Party. The coali­tion part­ners vowed to work to­gether to safe­guard civil and po­lit­i­cal rights ab­ro­gated from cit­i­zens and find a res­o­lu­tion to the po­lit­i­cal dis­cord af­flict­ing the coun­try.

The MUO moved a mo­tion of no-con­fi­dence against the Speaker Ab­dulla Maseeh, which was taken up for vot­ing on March 27, 2017 in a mer­cu­rial at­mos­phere in the House. The mo­tion was de­feated force­fully as 13 MPs from the op­po­si­tion benches were dragged out of the par­lia­ment by men in plain clothes al­legedly brought from the Army. Apart from a scuf­fle, the House also wit­nessed that the sup­port to Yameen, who rou­tinely en­joyed loy­alty of 60 MPs out of 85 mem­bers, shrank to 48. This shows Yameen is cling­ing to the throne by the skin of his teeth as he is los­ing his coali­tion part­ners.

The Mal­dives has been em­broiled in a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis since Yameen as­sumed the pres­i­dency in 2013. His au­thor­i­ta­tive rule and despotic na­ture have cor­roded the sit­u­a­tion so much so that all po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing his former al­lies, now stand united against him. He put Nasheed be­hind bars on con­cocted charges of ter­ror­ism in 2015 be­fore lat­ter was al­lowed to travel to Lon­don in early 2016 on med­i­cal grounds. His crack­down on po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents was fur­ther in­ten­si­fied when he sent his Deputy Pres­i­dent Ahmed Adeeb to jail on a charge of trea­son. To thwart a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion he used the state ma­chin­ery to in­tim­i­date his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. Qasim Ibrahim and Ab­dulla Riyaz, leader and deputy leader of the JP, were sum­moned to the Po­lice Head­quar­ters many times on a charge of ‘ spread­ing false ru­mours.’ Colonel Nazim, who was a former de­fence min­is­ter and a vo­cal critic of Pres­i­dent Yameen, was ar­rested by the po­lice. Yameen even tried to muz­zle the press when it started in­ves­ti­gat­ing the heist that in­volved em­bez­zle­ment of $205 mil­lion. Al­legedly, Yameen and his fam­ily mem­bers were in­volved in the em­bez­zle­ment. Faris Mau­moon, an op­po­si­tion MP, re­proved the crack­down and said, “Mal­di­vians must see this re­newed crack­down for what it is: a test for democ­racy.”

The ex­pul­sion of Mau­moon Gay­oom has re­ceded hopes for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in the po­lit­i­cal arena. The rul­ing party has now of­fi­cially dis­tanced it­self from a bel­li­cose Gay­oom who has em­barked on dis­man­tling Pres­i­dent Yameen’s rule. Af­ter he was ex­pelled Gay­oom tweeted: “Yameen’s fac­tion has no le­gal stand­ing and can­not dis­miss mem­bers from PPM. With the Grace of Al­lah, I con­tinue to be a mem­ber of PPM and its sole elected leader.” This in­di­cates he is adamant and will con­tinue to desta­bi­lize Yameen’s regime.

The writer is a mem­ber of the staff.

The Mal­dives has been em­broiled in a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis since Yameen as­sumed the pres­i­dency in 2013.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.