President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has honoured the Maldives’ first three presidents – including his half-brother and current political rival Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – claiming that they were instrumental in initiating and preserving the development of the country.
The president, on Monday night, met with the elderly community living in Male at the ‘Rasfannu’ beach on the western end of the capital. Addressing the crowd gathered there, he had named the Maldives’ first president Mohamed Amin Didi, the first president of the second republic Ibrahim Nasir, and his successor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as the three most influential presidents the Maldives’ young democracy has seen so far.
“When I think of nation building or achieving progress, the first name that comes to mind is His Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom,” the president said, naming his half-brother first before reminiscing his predecessors.
This is the first time the incumbent president has praised former President Maumoon since he openly withdrew support from his brother over a year ago.
The rift between the two leaders widened over the year with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – which Maumoon had founded – ousting him as the party’s leader, and the Civil Court handing the reigns of the party to President Yameen.
Maumoon has since aligned with the main opposition, even joining the opposition coalition in their rallies. However, he still maintains that he is the leader of PPM since its council has not voted him out from the post, and he continues to use the pink PPM flag and logo alongside the opposition insignias at rallies.
PPM’s deputy leader and Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla has expressed concern about Maumoon using the ruling party’s identity with the opposition.
During his speech on Monday night, President Yameen highlighted the work done by the previous presidents, noting the work that President Amin had done during World War II to ease the hardships that the Maldives faced during wartime. He also emphasised the role President Nasir played in attaining political independence in 1965, and the numerous development works initiated by him.
During Yameen's presidency, his half-brother's successor and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Mohamed Nasheed was charged with terrorism and is currently in exile.