Follow @southasiaanalys

Maldives: Gasim’s Jumhooree Party thrown out from the Ruling Coalition:

Paper No.5714                                      Dated 2-Jun-2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan
It was not a surprise that Gasim’s Jumhooree party was removed from the ruling coalition on 28th of May when  Gasim contested for the post of the Speaker of the New Majlis (national parliament) that assembled after the elections.
The surprise if any was that it took this long for the divorce though we had known from the beginning that both the leaders, Yameen of PPM and Gasim Ibrahim of Jumhooree were never on good terms and that both had tolerated each other only to get former President Nasheed defeated.
Yameen had also to wait till the parliamentary elections were completed to get a majority on his own for his party before he could dispense with the support he had from the Jumhooree to climb to power.
Except for the good will gesture shown by President Yameen to take Gasim along on his formal visit to Sri Lanka after his election, the Jumhooree party of Gasim was ignored in the decision making process.  In the local council elections, some PPM candidates contested against the Jumhooree party though both were in the same coalition.
Some of the issues where Gasim’ party were ignored included-
* Jumhooree was not consulted in the preparation of the government’s budget.
* In the matter of political appointments, Jumhooree was not given all the posts they were entitled to and were promised.
* In the victory rally that followed the Presidential elections, as also the Majlis elections, Jumhooree was not invited.
* The Jumhooree was not consulted in nominating candidates to independent institutions.
* The ruling PPM decided to let a PPM candidate to stand for election for the Speaker’s post though Gasim had evinced an interest in standing for the election.  Gasim later claimed that he decided to run for the post of the Speaker only after consulting former President Gayoom and present President Yameen, Dy. Leader Ahmed Adheeb and Defence Minister (Col. Mohamed Nazim.)
Gasim claimed  that he was the right person for the post.  He took perhaps rightly  for getting the new constitution through in the Special Majlis five years ago where he was the speaker.  Despite many difficulties, he claimed that he convened the sessions, “mornings, afternoons and evenings” to get the constitution through in record time. There is no doubt that Gasim  exhibited extraordinary administrative and leadership qualities in getting even contentious issues in the constitution passed in quick time.  I had mentioned about this in my earlier papers at the time of constitution making.
The PPM’s argument in not choosing Gasim was that since it had the majority in the parliament the post of Speaker should go  to one of its members.
In the election that followed in the Majlis, Abdulla Maseeb of PPM was elected with 43 votes compared with 39 votes obtained by Gasim.  The MDP voted for Gasim.  In the Dy. Speaker’s,
election, the PPM candidate lost by one vote to the MDP candidate Moosa Manik.
The same day, the PPM council met and decided to recall all political posts granted to JP under the coalition agreement. All the ministers from the Jumhooree were sacked immediately.
The present configuration of the Majlis is as follows:   PPM 33, MDP 26, JP 15, MDA 5, Independents 5 and Adhaalath 1.  For now, the PPM has a majority and from the optimism shown by some of the members, it looks that PPM may encourage some defection from the Jumhooree.  
The Vice President claimed that a “ lot will unfold” in the next few weeks.
The PPM led by President Yameen (no one can deny that Gayoom continues to play a serious role from behind the scenes) had been waiting for this moment to get absolute control of the government.  The whole operation appears to have been well planned and executed.  Now Gayoomism with a touch of authoritarianism is likely to follow!
The main opposition MDP has also played its cards tactically well in supporting Gasim for the post of Speaker and in the bargain got the Dy. Speakers’ post for themselves.
For Gasim, one need not shed any tears as he deserved this. From the Indian point of view, it was ‘good riddance’. 
For India, one can expect closer relations with Maldives on all  security and  economic issues.  Recall Yameen’s statement on his return from Delhi that India is the leader of the region!