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Gayoom's son denies pres race rumours, says focused on ruling party reform

Mohamed Visham
03 July 2016, MVT 10:12
Faaris Maumoon (3rd L) pictured with his father Gayoom (2nd L) and the then home minister Umar Naseer (4th L) during a ceremony. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
03 July 2016, MVT 10:12

Ruling party president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's son has not held any consultations over securing his name on a presidential ticket in 2018 but is dedicated to seeing out a successful reform program launched by his father, a top ruling party official said Saturday.

Rumours are rife that Gayoom's eldest son Faaris Maumoon, the MP for Dhiggaru is to be named the running mate of former home minister Umar Naseer who had announced his intention to run in the presidential elections a day earlier.

However, a close aide and a leading Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) denied any such discussions with regard to the presidential race.

"These rumours are intended to shift focus away from the PPM reform program," the official said.

Former president Gayoom has been locked in a major power struggle for the ruling party’s control with his half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The rift between the two brothers widened over a government proposed controversial amendment to the Tourism Act.

Gayoom on Wednesday had assumed full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down the amendment which sought to bypass the bidding process in island lease for tourism.

However, the government controlled parliament on Wednesday passed the amendment with all the ruling party lawmakers except two, voting to defy Gayoom .

In response, Gayoom had immediately relieved his deputy and Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla of his authority to call council meetings and the overall administrative running of PPM.

The move is believed to have been taken after the party council proposed to penalise the two MPs who had not voted for the amendment.

Faaris was the only PPM MP present in Wednesday to vote against. MP Ibrahim ‘Waddey’ Waheed reportedly left the parliament house minutes before the vote.

Gayoom after announcing a reform program in a bid to wrestle back control of his party told reporters late Thursday that the amendment to the Tourism Act was a clear violation of the party’s charter.

He also said the PPM parliamentary group which controls the parliament had ignored and defied several requests to follow the party’s democratic values.

“The PPM parliamentary group has acted in violation of the party council’s decisions which includes amendments to the constitution and laws governing this country,” Gayoom said.

He also admitted that the move to launch a reform program came after many futile attempts to resolve the divisions within the party.

Hours before the press conference, PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen had decided to amend the law putting an age cap of 65 years for political party leaders in a bid to oust Gayoom.

The amendment would effectively put an end to Gayoom’s rein as the PPM leader.

The PPM parliamentary group’s decision to oust Gayoom who is now 80 came shortly after a sit-down with president Yameen.

Gayoom had also recently rejected a petition by the party council to gift the party’s presidential ticket to president Yameen for his re-election in 2018 without a primary.

Shortly before the PG group’s decision, Gayoom had rallied key members of the party including Umar to his side and constituted an advisory council to find a solution to the deep divisions within the party he founded.

During the press conference Gayoom said the petition to gift the presidential ticket to Yameen had reportedly been coerced.

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