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Maldives ruling party sides with opposition in EC row

Mohamed Visham
14 October 2016, MVT 00:13
Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), government aligned Jumhoory Party (JP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) put up a united front during a joint press conference on Thursday to voice disapproval over the continued withholding of state funds. PHOTO/MDP
Mohamed Visham
14 October 2016, MVT 00:13

For the first time in Maldives' history, the ruling party united with the opposition to lambaste the archipelago's electoral watchdog over the refusal to release state funds to political parties citing charter violations.

Political parties have complained over the long delay in receiving state funds which was due by March.

In a strongly worded letter, Elections Commission said political parties have continued to violate their respective charters.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), government aligned Jumhoory Party (JP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) put up a united front during a joint press conference to voice disapproval over the continued withholding of state funds.

PPM deputy secretary general Abdulla Aleem loyal to party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom stressed that the ruling party representation in the press conference was solely limited to the row with the elections commission.

"This is not intended to send a message to anyone. This involves the interests of every single political party. This is an administrative issue and I'm here because I'm an administrative staff," Aleem insisted referring to the public spat between Gayoom and his half brother president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The Elections Commission letter pointed out that some political parties have failed to fill vacant leadership posts which was in clear reference MDP and Adhaalath Party.

A recent amendment to the political party Act had effectively stripped MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed and AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla from party leadership.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year but was given asylum in Britain after traveling there for back surgery while Imran was found guilty of terrorism over a speech he gave at the May Day rally and sentenced to 12 years in prison in February.

Imran was accused of inciting violence with the prosecution arguing that he must bear responsibility for the violent clashes.

The amendment states that convicts would not be allowed serve in top party posts as the Elections Commission declared that Nasheed and Imran were no longer party leaders.

The Elections Commission, in its letter had also referred to the rift in PPM saying that “some parties have refused to hold its council.”

PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been locked in a bitter power struggle with half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom that has led to deep divisions within the 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.

Gayoom soon after announced a reform program in a desperate bid to wrestle back control of his party had labelled the amendment as a clear violation of the party’s charter.

The party’s disciplinary committee then 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 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 Yameen and push his reform program.

Soon after, two PPM lawmakers in a bid to wrest party control from Gayoom filed a lawsuit last month 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.

“The commission has been receiving complaints that some parties are refusing to even hold a council meeting,” the Elections Commission letter read.

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