The current Maldives President Abdulla Yameen is the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, often referred as “Asia’s Longest-Serving Dictator” by international media for his 30-year regime.
Just before he was made the presidential candidate of the current ruling party – Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Yameen added his father’s name – Abdulla Gayoom to his name.
The name Gayoom must have been magical. In the absence of a credible reputation he not only got the party’s ticket but is now the country’s President.
Though Yameen filled many top positions in his brother’s administration and has been a parliamentarian for at least 15 years, most people did not expect him to become the President. He has always been invisible, unpopular and antisocial.
It was understood nobody would find any place or position of prominence in the party run by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom without the former dictator’s blessing.
There is no doubt Maumoon wants his children to lead the country. His eldest children are twin daughters – one of whom is the current Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.
The eldest son replaced the parliamentary seat vacated by Ahmed Nazim who was imprisoned for life last year. Nazim was also Former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Yameen’s right hand man. Maumoon’s youngest is Ghassan Maumoon. He was appointed as a Minister in the President’s office.
So why did Maumoon choose Yameen – a man nobody really knew for President? There are many speculations.
Firstly, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom needs to do a major clean up to remove all the elements unfriendly to him and return the political environment to pre 2000 times. For this, he needed to destroy the democratic structure embedded in the 2008 Constitution and reactivate his network within the Judiciary, Security establishment and the Independent Institutions that were established by the 2008 Constitution. He also needed to subvert the Rule of Law.
Secondly, he needed to assure his supporters that only he or his children could do what he did best for them all. Even Yameen does not figure in his stratagem.
Thirdly, he needed more time to groom his children for the Presidential seat. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Dunya becomes his number one choice. She is the most visible among all his four children.
Dunya Maumoon, upon her return from studying overseas, worked in UNFPA and was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister during Maumoon’s last few years in power. She held her post even in the aftermath of the coup by Waheed during his time in power.
When Yameen got elected as the President, she moved up the rank to become his Foreign Minsiter.
For Maumoon, having his daughter as President would not only put his family back in power, it would bring him the strongest ever recognition.
Maumoon has often argued that he is the man of political and social reform.
He claims he is the father of democracy and came to power 6 times through democratic elections. He also claims that the 2008 Constitution was his work. One of the three major amendments in the Constitution is that it allows women to become the President. With Dunya as President, Maumoon can reclaim to walk his talk.
With Dunya as President, Maumoon can list Maldives among SAARC countries having women as nation’s leaders.
India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh all had women head of states. Historically, Maldives did have women leaders, but wouldn’t it be great for Maldives to have a woman in the contemporary times?
With Dunya as President, Maumoon could claim to be the beacon against extremism and Islamism.
With Dunya as President, Maumoon would also be a man of equality. The darling of Feminists. The instrument for gender parity.
However, dreams are dreams unless they are realized.
Some people believe Yameen has turned his niece into a political prostitute.
Abdulla Yameen is using all his power to demonstrate that he calls the shots, not his half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Yameen’s wife Fathimath Ibrahim is campaigning to expand Yameen’s support. It is common knowledge that Fathimath Ibrahim and Dunya Maumoon don’t even talk to each other.
So the question that arises, is Maumoon Gayoom still strong enough to make a move before the next election? What would be his move?
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FocusMaldives.)