Gayoom vows to challenge ruling party verdict

Ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom would turn to the archipelago's top court after losing the first appeal of a court order forcing him to handover party control to half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the former president's daughter Yumna Maumoon said Sunday.

The High Court Sunday upheld a lower court order granting full control of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to president Yameen in the capacity of the chief advisor -- a default post offered to the party's successful presidential candidate under the party charter.

The three judge bench of the appellate court found no grounds to overturn the civil court order, ruling that handing over party control to president Yameen was in the "best interest of the party."

The bench had also dismissed arguments of procedural violations during the civil lawsuit flagged by the elder Gayoom's lawyers.

The civil lawsuit filed by two ruling party lawmakers had accused the elder Gayoom of violating party charter by refusing to hold council sit-downs and suspending its internal committees.

Gayoom lost the lawsuit after the Civil Court last week found him guilty of violating the constitution, party charter and the political party law.

Speaking to reporters outside the High Court on Sunday, Yumna said her father was "not happy" with the ruling and would look to challenge the verdict at the Supreme Court.

"President Gayoom wants to take this to the final appeal stage. Because this violates the rights of all party members. Gayoom was elected as the party leader. So we refuse to believe Gayoom can be sidelined by a court," Yumna stressed.

Yuman also said her father hopes justice would finally prevail and urged all party members to rally behind the former president.

A party member had appealed the court order prompting Gayoom to immediately intervene in the case, later questioning the motive and relevance of the appellant to the case.

Despite the civil court order, Gayoom had rallied council members loyal to him, filled the vacant secretary general's post and sealed his decision to oust three council members loyal to his half brother, including deputy party leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla.

President Yameen, a few hours later had chaired a council sit-down of his own and appointed a secretary general, effectively splitting the ruling party into two factions.

The half brothers have locked in a bitter power struggle ever since the elder Gayoom publicly urged lawmakers to vote down a government proposed amendment to the tourism Act.

Since then, Gayoom and his lawmaker son, Faaris Maumoon has continued to publicly criticize the government policies and recent legislation.

Despite the fallout, president Yameen has refused to hit-back at his elder half brother insisting that the former president still has his utmost respect and admiration.