MALE, September 23 (HNS) – Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leadership cracked as senior members split over the protest organised by Deputy Leaders Umar Naseer and Ilham Ahmed.
Disputes sparked as the 33-member party council Wednesday voted 16-11 against Umar to send his case to the disciplinary committee. Dhunya Maumoom and Gassan Maumoon, children of the party Supreme Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, voted in favour of Umar.
In a press conference held at VTV at 6.30pm Wednesday, party Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali welcomed the council’s decision and said the issue was not holding demonstrations, but defying a secretariat’s decision.
“A disciplinary action for organising a protest while the party decided not to hold a demonstration on a particular date,” he said.
Questioned about why cases of members speaking against the party’s decisions and switching parties less than 24 hours are not investigated, Thasmeen noted that such issues will also be investigated if presented to the council.
“There are times when members have voted against the party’s decisions due to various reasons. But we have not taken actions against them when they apologise and present a valid reason like forgetting. So the process is going in an established policy,” he said.
Following the council’s decision, Umar also met journalists with Ilham and council member Ahmed Mahloof and condemned the decision.
Umar accused the party of trying to sack him and described the incident as a “very sad day” in the democratic life of the party.
“We are working to hold the government accountable without having any secret deals with the government and exposing such deals. In the council meeting, I have also mentioned the issue of senior party members making secret deals with the government. But I am not going to disclose the details in the media,” he said.
Umar stressed that he would not attend the disciplinary committee session, as it is not possible according to article 83 of the charter.
Ilham noted that under article 83 of the charter, a no confidence motion against a deputy leader is only considered by passing a no confidence resolution with the vote of 2/3 of the national meeting or congress.
Ilham and Mahlouf described the council’s decision as characteristic of a “dictatorship.”
Umar and Ilham reportedly left the council meeting immediately following the decision. Both sides exchanged heated debates in the meeting.
“Some members expressed inappropriate words. Members supporting Thasmeen did not want to relax their moves and Umar and his allied did not want to call off the protest even,” a council member who did not participate in the vote said.
“Azima, the most senior lawyer in the council, repeatedly raised legal questions in sending Umar’s case to the disciplinary committee and urged to seek advice of an independent lawyer. She also noted that she does not believe that issues regarding the leader and deputy leaders cannot be sent to the committee. The council took its decision while she was urging to seek advice of an independent lawyer.”