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Gayoom questions motive as ruling party control handover appeal begins

Mohamed Visham
20 October 2016, MVT 13:14
Gayoom waves at the crowd gathered outside the PPM office after he ignored a court order to handover party control to hold a council sit-down last Thursday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
20 October 2016, MVT 13:14

High Court Thursday began appeal proceedings of the lower court order asking ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to handover party control to his half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

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.

The party control had been handed over to Yameen in the capacity of chief advisor which is a default position afforded to the party’s successful presidential candidate by the party’s charter.

A private individual had beat Gayoom to file the appeal and the former president's lawyer had questioned the motive of the appellant.

Gayoom had immediately intervened in the case as soon as the High Court accepted and scheduled an appeal hearing.

The elder Gayoom lawyer Ahmed Muizzu questioned the relevance the appellant had with the case.

Muizzu who had formerly served as the prosecutor general also expressed concern over the fast tracking of the trial after the court slated a second hearing later Thursday.

Gayoom has largely ignored a court ruling to hand over control to his half brother and instead has looked to prevent party loyalists from switching to his brother’s faction.

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.

An eerily calm and smiling Gayoom later told reporters that the court order completely violated the party’s charter.

He had urged the court to hold off on enforcing the order until an appellate court ruling.

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

Both factions since had forwarded documents related to the respective council sit-downs, while Gayoom had asked the Elections Commission to declare the opposing sit-down as invalid.

Gayoom had argued that according to the party charter, the authority to call council meetings is vested in the party leader and not the chief advisor.

Elections Commission refusing to be dragged into the row, has insisted that it would abide by the court ruling.

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.