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Maldives ruling party split deepens after council walkout

Mohamed Visham
20 July 2016, MVT 09:34
PPM council members loyal to president Yameen speaking to reporters after walking out of the council sit-down on Tuesday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
20 July 2016, MVT 09:34

The split in the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) widened on Tuesday after incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom'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.

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.

Shortly after the sit-down began, president Yameen's faction walked out in protest of Faaris and Nadhira's presence in the council.

Gayoom chairs the council meeting on Tuesday before his half brother's faction walked out.

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.

PPM deputy leader and Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla 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.

Despite the deepening split, both factions assured that the differences can be resolved.

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.