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Maldives: The Importance of Gayoom:

Paper No. 5740                    Dated 7-Jul-2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan
 
One cannot but admire the way former President Gayoom has worked himself up to become the most powerful person in Maldives once again.  Perhaps in the South Asian context there is no political leader who is as wily as Gayoom. In his own subtle and quiet manner he has smoothly regained his former position without creating any major controversy!
 
After his defeat in the Presidential elections of 2008, Gayoom managed to get a good package deal with allowances for himself and the understanding with the MDP government was that he would remain away from politics.  Former President Nasheed who wanted to make a departure from the past practice of ill treating and banishing former Presidents, did  everything to make Gayoom comfortable.
 
But Gayoom was a different kind of fish.  Since there was no legal binding or agreement, Gayoom pushed himself into active politics within six months.  First he created a split in the party he created- the DRP and started a new one in the name of PPM.  The DRP leader Thasmeen Ali who was personally hand picked to succeed Gayoom in the DRP was unceremoniously dumped.
 
Next, while positioning himself carefully in Kualalumpur at the time of February 7 coup of 2012, he managed to stay out of the controversy though there was no doubt that such major upheavals in Maldives could not have taken place without his acquiescence.
 
Then in the new dispensation under President Waheed, Gayoom managed to pack the government with his children and relatives and former loyalists.  President Waheed himself had admitted that though he was ill treated earlier, he had to follow the advice of former President Gayoom.  In fact he said that he used to meet Gayoom regularly to discuss the issues relating to governance, though technically Gayoom had no role at all in running the government.
 
Then came the presidential elections, where Gayoom’s half brother Yameen contested on the PPM ticket.  In the interim period between the first election and the run off , Gayoom succeeded in persuading the gullible Gasim Ibrahim of Jumhooree party to support Yameen. Gasim Ibrahim was no-good friend of Yameen and in the normal circumstances would never have permitted his party to support the PPM.  But Gayoom used all his charm and succeeded in getting Gasim on board and it is reported there were one or two personal midnight meetings between Gayoom and Gasim Ibrahim.
 
Now Gasim Ibrahim and his party have been ditched soon after the Parliamentary elections.  Gasim’s party was a member of the coalition that succeeded in getting a majority in the parliament (Majlis) for the ruling coalition. 
 
 Problems arose when Gasim wanted to become the Speaker of the Assembly and he says that it had the nod of both Gayoom and Yameen.  There is no doubt that Gasim is a good parliamentarian and he proved his ability in getting the new constitution through in the Special Majlis where he was the Speaker.
 
When Gasim actually filed his nomination for the Speaker’s post, he and his party were unceremoniously thrown out of the coalition.
 
Gasim claims that he has not been officially notified of being removed from the coalition.  In briefing the Press he claimed that he had spent over 20 million MVR in the run off to the Presidential elections that saw Yameen getting over 50 percent of the votes.  
 
Yameen could not have come to power without the money and efforts of Gasim Ibrahim.  For his support, Gayoom described Gasim as a great patriot!
 
Now Gasim Ibrahim is at the begging end.  His ministers and those having public appointments have been sacked.  Gasim is still waiting for Yameen to have a dialogue with him and is still hoping the members of his party Jumhooree will be included in the government.  
 
Gasim should be happy if he is left alone to run his business and not imprisoned again as it happened once before when Gayoom was all powerful. 
 
Meanwhile, the positions of the parties have considerably changed with defections to PPM both from Jumhooree and the MDP.  The PPM has a clear majority now thanks to behind the scene efforts of Gayoom as head of the party in power and his half brother Yameen as the Executive President.
 
The position of the 85 member assembly then and now are  as follows.
 
                                            Then                                     Now
PPM                                     33                                         42
MDP                                    26                                          23
Jumhooree                          15                                          13
MDA                                      5                                            5 ( MDA is part of PPM alliance)
Adhaalath                             1                                            1
Independents                       5                                            1
 
Thus, Gayoom with his half brother Yameen of PPM has a clear working majority and I will not be surprised if the duo manages to get more members cross the floor to give them an overwhelming majority to do what they want to in the days to come! 
 
Gasim has just revealed that prior to the run off of Presidential elections, he was personally met by judges, Police and Army officers to persuade him to support the PPM candidacy of Yameen. This shows that the judiciary, the Army and the Police are not neutral or independent as one would expect in a democracy.
 
In this context, one cannot but laugh at the way the sex tape charges against the Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed have been disposed of by the Judicial Service Commission.  The Commission ruled that the sex tapes were not recorded by an authorised person and therefore cannot be admitted as evidence against the judge.  The records relating to the corruption cases against the Judge have already been destroyed by a “Coffee Spill.”  The judge has now got away scot free from all  the cases.  This Judge was an active member of the bench that took over the conduct of the Presidential Elections in the Run off!
 
Thus we see Gayoomism is back in Maldives with a vengeance through his half brother Yameen as President. 
 
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