Gayoom attempts to reform his party

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.

Former President Gayoom addressing the gathering held to mark 7th anniversary of his democratic reform package

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.

Monkey’s justice for DRP problem

Stalemate between DRP’s honorary leader ‘Gayoom’ and its leader ‘Thasmeen’ over its control hasn’t bring anything better for their party, as day by day the differences are widening — creating deep division between two factions. Consequently, their dreams for 2013 are apparently in jeopardy. It is seen vital for them to stay together if they really want to defeat MDP in 2013 Presidential Election. But the current scenario may not win through any hopes for them.  And ruling MDP could take immense advantage from ongoing infighting between the rival factions of DRP, the Gayoom’s ‘Z’ faction and Thasmeen’s ‘T’ faction.

During our childhood we used to read a very famous story among kids “The Monkey’s Justice for two cats”, what if current political game of the country also end up similar to the plot of this story, where two friendly cats saw a piece of butter and fight for the ownership of it as a cleaver wicked monkey approaches them and in an attempt to solve the problem taken it all.

I wonder some time, why politicians don’t take lessons from such tales?  I believe somebody has to distribute such kindergarten stories to them or else force them to be back in school. All what I know is that they all are fighting for one thing, one noble post, Chief Executive of a sovereign land.  But then they have forgotten to adhere to democratic values and thoughts, deeming to what they see near them and act as if never tend to see the broader picture of things might occur in the years to come, due to just making one mistake decision.

It is said the main reason behind the division in main opposition DRP has started because of bigoted standards carried out by both rival leaders. Without paving way to end the differences DRP candidate is unlikely to get most popular votes during 2013 presidential election. Each side has to show restrain to move forward without much delay, if both leaders genuinely are hoping to see ample votes in the election to get the office of President.

Last night’s Z-DRP rally was seen with peculiar flavor. For the first time after a long break its current honorary leader, former party leader and former president who ran this country for more than 30 years appeared at the site of the gathering, bringing an end to a plea of many of his loyalists. President Gayoom was accompanied by his spouse, former first lady Nasreea Ibrahim, who has been under medical treatment in abroad ever since the fall of his regime.   However, on this occasion he didn’t give a speech to his supporters, and he left them early before the gathering came to a close. May be his intention was to show them that he is enough capable and energetic to play a pivotal role to solve the problems within DRP.

Earlier, he called on party members on a televised address, to solve the current crises if they decide to hold a National Congress he will most welcome such a verdict by members. In response to this Thasmees-faction has denounced Gayoom’s remarks saying that Gayoom is trying to create division in the party in an apparent intention of coming back to power adding that party council has the sole right to convene the National Congress.  Since the Council is in the grip of Thasmeen this may not be easy to do through DRP council. This is a clear indication that none of them are willing to give up, making it impossible to solve this impasse.

How long these two people will keep on quarreling…? Already in the wake of differences ruling party cunningly took over two of their MPs and they have lost significant parliament majority. DRP is in a life support system. Without independent members and other minor parties’ help they won’t be able to do anything on their own in the parliament.

Last night’s rally was said to be the largest opposition gathering to take place in many months.  The attendees might be die-hearted fans of former president or may be the stronger part of so called ‘real’ DRP. However, it is evident that Thasmeen’s DRP are unable to draw this kind of crowd since the separation of both leaders.

DRP MP Kalhey aslo switches party

It’s no surprise to see former DRP member MP Abdu’Raheem (Kalhey) switching his party to MDP. Even last year just for 24 hours he slides in and out to MDP.

Amid speculation that MDP is buying up MPs in a bid to gain absolute control of the parliament with the new members joining, the seats directly controlling by MDP has risen to 34.

President Nasheed welcomes Abdu' Raheem

MP for Maafannu Uthuru constituency Abdullah Abdu’ Raheem signed up for MDP after less than three days since his former colleague Ali Waheed joins the rival party.

The special rally to introduce new politicians joining ruling MDP was originally planned to host at an open space in Maafannu near STO Building, but due to rain at the last minute they had to put it in Dharubaaruge, main hall. However, this did not affect number of party supporters attending the gathering. MP Abdu’ Raheem was received in a hall packed with supporters, President Nasheed, many senior government officials and party leaders were among the members.

There is a strong belief that soon or later the ruling party members slowly bound to take over complete majority while still they need four more members to go to fully achieve this. Now DRP/PA coalition controls 33 members in the parliament that means to pass legislation in favor of opposition they need strong and firm support from minor opposition parties, Jumhooree Party, Qaumee Party and at least 3 or 4 independent votes as well.  But there is an uncertainty over how well this will work at a time DRP has first to settle its own internal feuds.

Speaking at the rally Raheem said he quits DRP mainly as few influential businessmen are trying to block bills aimed at increasing state revenue such as long awaited tax bills.  He also said he was waiting for the right moment to change his party and finally that moment has come, citing that he made the decision in line with his constituents.

He joined MDP along with 100 news members from Maaziya Sports group based in the western area of Maafannu within his constituency.

Speaking in the joy of celebration MDP parliament leader Moosa Manik apparently lot his mind and gave a defiant threat to opposition. He said being the majority party at the floor MDP would bring amendments to various legislations relating to judiciary and finance, adding that they will press on with necessary changes to the formation of key committees in the Parliament.  In his speech Reko moosa went on to ask the MDP members whether they want to arrest former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and pledged to work through the parliament to find a way to take out all privileges offered to former President Gayoom.

Even though MDP has taken up two of DRP MPs, Z-DRP clams yet MDP hasn’t win the total control of the parliament and still they would have to face hard time in defeating opposition in the parliament floor.  Speaking on a local TV channel MP for Z-DRP Nihaan Hussan Manik said even though Moosa has a strong desires to arrest their ’Zaeem’ Gayoom it will never happen and accused MDP for intimidating former president and other political opponents.

Meanwhile, DRP’s ‘Z’ faction accuses current fever of – party switching – as corruption and has filed a complaint with anti-corruption commission.

Opposition MP Ali Waheed joins MDP

It was not an ordinary evening for ruling MDP supporters. Hundreds of supporters, party activists alongside with President Nasheed and other senior government officials were enthusiastically waiting at the party rally held in the artificial beach on Friday evening to welcome the defected politicians from main opposition DRP joining their party.

President Nasheed welcomes former DRP Deputy Leader, MP Ali Waheed to ruling MDP

The rally commenced stating that 9:47 is going to be a very special moment for MDP. After a while that moment has come.  Every one stands up clapping with jubilation to see the new faces. Peeping through one edge of the huge crowed, stunningly, everyone saw the huge figure of MP Ali Waheed making in to the center of the crowd.  Until yesterday, he was a vocal critic of the President Nasheed’s policies and a deputy leader of the main opposition DRP’s Thasmeen Faction. He was given a flamboyant welcome by MDP supporters and as he tried to walk to the center of the crowd supporters gets around him, shaking his hands and cuddling with him. One spotlight picture published on local media shows once political enemies, President Nasheed and Ali Waheed embracing each other.

Ali Waheed is attributed as the drive force of the opposition in the parliament. He made the choice while some of his vehement debates in the parliament against the government policies were still fresh in the minds of opposition supporters.  At a personal level he had criticized some of the actions and odd behaviors of the President Nasheed and MDP Parliamentary group leader Reko Moosa Maniku. In the parliament floor he accused President Nasheed of having chipped alcohol during one of his official trip and blamed Reko Moosa fathered a baby out-of-wedlock to a film star known as Mariyam Nisha and the poor baby is looked after in a Indian orphanage.

After all, quitting DRP by joining ruling MDP its members have either forgotten or forgiven Ali Waheed and in the joy they bear him on their shoulders and carry him in to the crowd. MDP supporters no longer want to remember what Ali Waheed uttered to them in the past but they want to go ahead with him, cause at this juncture his presence with them is much important than anything else to weaken the opposition control parliament.

In front of hundreds of supporters Ali Waheed, signed up the party alongside DRP activist Ahmed Assad ‘Adubarey’ and DRP Sports Wing Head, Hassan Shujau who was last week given a government post of State Minister for Housing.

Here comes the end of a rumor spread by local media for days. This move is seen as a beginning of series of such events to take place in a bid to win the absolute majority of the parliament for the ruling MDP government. There is growing rumor that Abdulla Abdu’ Raheem of Maafanu Uthuru constituency are also going to join MDP.

Government accuses that they being unable to fulfill their pledges mainly due to the blockade of opposition controlled parliament, so as Ali Waheed said after joining MDP, “government has a plan but the opposition has no plan other than rejecting government plans…, they never let know how to overcome the dollar shortage of the country, protesting alone would not solve the problems”.  For the first time standing on yellow podium Ali Waheed said, “Boom, Boom, Boom . . . I came here to get passengers to my flight, because it is only available, here”.

He admired MDP’s policies to strengthen democratic values within the party and went on to criticize DRP saying there is no political prospect for him as its members are spooling around two major party figures Gayoom and Thasmeen respectively. He said former President Gayoom is mainly responsible for factional division in DRP.

Speaking in the rally President Nasheed noted that it is a step taken forward to gain full control of the Parliament while some other speakers shoots verbal attacks on Zaeem-DRP’s leader former president Gayoom, calling for his arrest.

Some local analysts say at this crucial time party transfer market is high as MDP allegedly offering huge sum of money by taking advantage of the fragmented main opposition, DRP.

MDP hopes to fetch four more opposition members to get absolute majority of the parliament while opposition’s members says soon or later some MDP members may take side with them as well. However, Ali Waheed’s transfer is seen as a blow to the main opposition party. Along with him if Abdu’Raheem joins MDP it will be difficult for opposition to play a pivotal role on the floor.

MDP thugs impedes into anti-government protests in Malé

Third straight night of peaceful protests in the capital Malé ended with much violence on Monday after alleged ruling MDP thugs intervene to stop it.

Unlike previous two nights’ riot police gave their warning to clear the area much early, before 12 midnight as around 50 of MDP supporters along with some leading figures of the newly elected leadership marched from Majeedhee Road towards the junction where opposition demonstration was holding up. These MDP members came out of a frenzied gathering held in their Jagaha or meeting compound near Imaadhudheen School. Local Media reports say they approached and escalate the scene by throwing stones on peaceful protesters while police did nothing to stop them.

demonstrators holding up in the Junction square

The government is discontent over the allegation put forward by the protesters. The organizers known as Maldivian “youths” who were acting largely with the support of main opposition DRP’s Maumoon Faction joined by Jumhooree Party, Qaumee Party and People Alliance are calling to lower the high living cost and demanding president Nasheed’s resignation. They were protesting government inaction in controlling rising prices, alleged mismanagement and wasteful spending. Last month president Nasheed declared to enforce pegged dollar exchange rates and country’s exchange rate jumped from 12.85 Mrf to 15.45 Mrf which is a 20 percent increase. As a result prices of goods in the shops and services went up.

On Monday MDP’s newly elected President Dr. Didi defiantly told local media that opposition rallies should come to a halt and if necessary MDP members will act to prevent it from happening. Later his comments were criticized by the opposition saying Dr. Didi is simply inciting violence. They said this shows his reluctance to listen outcry of public.

Few MDP activists outside their Jagaha during as the protests went on

“It’s a clear message of intimidation,  ruling MDP government is declining to accept right to freedom of express and freedom of assembly”, one opposition MP told the local media.

Windscreen of a police vehicle is broken which is blamed on gang groups active during the protest

By 12:00 mid night ‘Junction Square’ was cleared by riot police as clashes escalated between protesters and alleged MDP thugs. At that time some unidentified group of young boys between the ages of 14 – 19 were spotted in the opposition crowds who were later blamed for much of the violence and damages given to public property.  They lit fire in several areas and damaged a police vehicle parked near Maafanu Police Station.

After dispersing protesters from the ‘Junction Square’ they regrouped near MMA building. They were actually trying to congregate in heavily guarded Republican Square known as Jumhooree Maidhaan where headquarters of Armed forces and police are located. However, riot police backed by armed forces used all means of forces including armored vehicles to deter the protesters. As usual tear gas and pepper spray was used against protesters while more than 55 arrests took place. Some casualties were reported  during the confrontation with police.  Protesters went home around 3:00 am following widespread disruption caused by suspected gang groups.

Protesters lit fire on the streets

Later opposition MPs who were leading the protests went in to the Police headquarters  and was thought to have complained of alleged gang groups sent by MDP had to take the responsibility violence that took place during the protest including use of patrol bombs and setting fire on the streets near local market.

DRP MP Mahloof told local media they are simply expressing their concerns in a peaceful manner and they would never encourage any violence.

Organizers say they will continue their protests every night until government positively respond to their demands.

It is believed that so for police detained over a 150 people in connection with the protest. However police told a press conference they have extended the detained period of 13 suspected notorious people who damaged public property or who showed civil disobedience.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, suspected MDP members went near PA leader Yameen’s residence during the protest and damage a window by throwing stones while he did not appear in any of the ongoing protests.

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