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Maldives pres shares sentiments over spat with brother

Mohamed Visham
13 October 2016, MVT 17:13
President Yameen (L) speaks to the media as his half brother and ruling party president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom looks on.
Mohamed Visham
13 October 2016, MVT 17:13

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom for the first time has shared his sentiments over the protracted spat with half brother and ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

President Yameen had met with government coalition lawmakers including ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) on Wednesday and reportedly shared his feelings over the row with his half brother.

A lawmaker on condition of anonymity told Mihaaru on Thursday that president Yameen does not expect the elder Gayoom to support his re-election bid in 2018.

President Yameen had reportedly described his biggest challenge during his three year tenure, the obstacles he has so far faced from within his own party.

The bitter power struggle between the two brothers has led to deep divisions within the ruling  party.

Former president 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.

However, according to the lawmaker who spoke to Mihaaru, the relationship between the two brothers had strained days after Yameen was sworn in.

The elder Gayoom had attempted to dictate the ministerial cabinet and other top government appointments, the lawmaker said.

"President told us that Gayoom had wanted him to get his permission to even meet the PPM parliamentary group," lawmaker added.

But despite the quite public spat, president Yameen refuses to believe that the problems within the ruling party were too dire.

"President Yameen said the PPM problems were invented by Gayoom which can be quite easily resolved," the MP said.

Gayoom has now announced a reform program in a desperate bid to wrestle back control of his party had labelled the recent laws passed by the government controlled parliament as blatant violations of the party’s charter.

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

In an unprecedented turn of events, a faction loyal to Yameen had walked out of the last PPM council meeting in protest against the presence of Faaris in the council.

Gayoom had called in the emergency council meeting after a long hiatus in a bid to resolve the rift with his half brother and push his reform program.

Soon after, two PPM lawmakers in a bid to wrest party control from Gayoom filed a lawsuit claiming that Gayoom had hijacked the party by suspending its internal committees and announcing a reform agenda.

The elder Gayoom has since refused to hold a council sit-down demanding an apology for the walkout.

President Yameen reportedly told lawmakers that he was willing to pursue legal means if his brother continues to hold onto his powers as the party leader.

"If we can't resolve it through the courts we will be forced to use the trump card," the MP said referring to the age cap on political party leaders which had been rumoured to strip Gayoom of party leaders.

President Yameen however, remains open to dialogue with his brother to resolve their differences.

He has also asked lawmakers to offer the respect the elder Gayoom deserves, the MP added.

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