Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for the first time in months addressed his supporters of opposition DRP’s Z-faction on Wednesday evening, reiterating his calls for the need of reforming his very own party.
Marking the seventh anniversary of the democratic reform package which he announced in June 9, 2011, he went on to say that even way before he came to power there wasn’t any such thing called democracy in the country adding that unfortunately even today it’s the same.
Gayoom said the main aim of establishing and strengthening the democratic institutions are to refrain citizens from deliberate act of political intimidation adding that it is a system that gives guarantee to all that no one will have to face any form of threat or punishment from the regime as long as they abide by the law.
“[in a country] where citizens kept in fear cannot be regarded as a democratic system“, Gayoom said.
Separation of power, establishing independent judiciary, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech along with forming political parties were some of the fundamentals of his reform package.
However, he says, some of the democratic reforms which he tried to thrive during the later years of his regime since has derailed from its track and its pillars are now in ruin. In his speech he highlighted some of the oppressions carried out by then President Ibrahim Nasir’s regime and went on to exemplify how he was given a sentence of four year banishment to a remote island after having been convicted for simply expressing political views inside his residence in Malé. He said during early days of his 30 year old regime he concentrated on two main elements of development, educating the people and build a vibrant economy. He insisted by saying from the very outset he has started institutionalizing government’s structure in line with democratic principles.
Highlighting some of the difficulties facing his own party, he said, “there is a great need of democratic reforms within DRP, members of the party has to decide whether to hold a national conference to restructure party leadership and if they decide so I will be also ways with the party members in support of holding such a conference”.
“Handing over the [party] leadership [putting] on a tray is the biggest mistake I have made. Now I am not going to repeat the same mistake”, Gayoom said recalling how he handed over party’s leadership to present leader Thasmeen. He said things didn’t went that smartly and smoothly ever since Thasmeen took the leadership. He went on to say how party’s rules and regulations were put aside to expel one of the deputy leader Umar Naseer and claimed that party council is totally controlled by leader Thasmeen.
“In many democratic parties elsewhere, we see party leadership and party ticket being given through a popular vote of party members. We also have to taking up similar principles giving way to reform the party through democratic consolidation”
“No matter who gets the party ticket for crucial 2013 election – my support will always stay with him”, said Gayoom. He stressed that this time he is not going to repeat the mistake by pointing out a particular person to support.
A contradicting view of Gayoom’s comments later shared to press by DRP’s Thasmmen faction. Officials from DRP-Thasmeen faction told a press conference that Gayoom has no right to call for a national congress and, only the party council which was elected at the last congress has the sole power to decide on its future.
Commenting on Gayoom’s address, later President Nasheed’s Press Secretary blamed that former president is trying to make a comeback to active politics.