President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had ordered members loyal to him to walk out of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) council sit-down on Tuesday.
The split in the ruling party deepened after Yameen’s faction walked out of a council sit-down over a push to oust party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son from the party.
Gayoom had called in an emergency council meeting on Tuesday after a long hiatus in a bid to resolve the rift with his half brother Yameen and push his reform program.
Some member loyal to the elder Gayoom told Mihaaru that the deputy PPM leader Abdulla Abdul Raheem received a phone call just before the walkout.
A council member on condition of anonymity said the meeting had gone on for 40 minutes before Yameen's faction suddenly decided to boycott the sit-down.
"Individual members had also voiced their opinion during the meeting," the member said.
"The members were speaking until the phone call. No one had objected to Faaris and Nadhira being present for 40 minutes."
Faaris Maumoon the MP for Dhiggaru constituency had voted against a government proposed controversial amendment to the Tourism Act defying a three line whip issued by the PPM parliamentary group despite Gayoom urging his party lawmakers to vote down the amendment.
Gayoom had assumed full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down the amendment.
The party’s disciplinary committee had ignored a ban on all party sit-downs imposed by Gayoom to vote out Faaris and another council member Aminath Nadhira from the party.
Nadhira served as the executive coordinator at the gender ministry before being dismissed after speaking publicly in support of Gayoom.
The majority of the council loyal to Yameen insisted that members voted out of the party by the disciplinary committee had no place in the council.
Speaking to reporters after the walkout, the elderly Gayoom reiterated that the disciplinary committee sit-down to oust his son had been held in violation of the party’s charter.
According to Gayoom, only three members had been present to vote out his son in the seven member committee.
“The committee had not even met the required quorum,” Gayoom lamented.
“So how can we accept that their dismissals were in accordance with the charter.”
However, in a separate press conference, Yameen’s faction hit-back at Gayoom and defended their move to walk out of the council.
Raheem insisted that Faaris and Nadhira’s removal was in line with the charter which means they can no longer sit in the council.
Raheem insisted that they would not accept the axed members’ presence in the council.
The party’s parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik and former minister at the president’s office Mohamed Hussain Shareef sided with Raheem and backed the disciplinary committee’s decision to oust Faaris and Nadhira.
Nihan had also denied that president Yameen had ordered the walkout.
Gayoom had announced the reform program in a bid to wrestle back control of his party after labeling the amendment to the Tourism Act as a clear violation of the party’s charter.
PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen had meanwhile 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.
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.