Two ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) lawmakers including party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's son have been 'demoted' from top parliamentary committees for breaking a three line whip issued for a controversial amendment to the tourism Act, Mihaaru understands.
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.
MP Ibrahim ‘Waddey’ Waheed reportedly left the parliament house minutes before the vote.
Mihaaru has found that Faaris has been transferred from the national development committee to the petition committee. Waheed meanwhile, has been demoted from the influential independent bodies' committee and the government oversight committee. He has also been shunted out to the petition committee.
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 the elder Gayoom's move to block government proposed amendment to the Tourism Act.
Gayoom had moved quickly to assume 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.
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 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.
But Gayoom has refused to ax his son and Nadhira from the party insisting that the disciplinary committee had been held in violation of the party's charter.
In an unprecedented turn of events, a faction loyal to Yameen had walked out of a PPM council meeting on Tuesday in protest against the presence of Faaris and Nadhira in the council.
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.
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 believe that president Yameen had ordered the walkout.
PPM lawmakers loyal to president Yameen have 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.