Gayoom wins Gasim's support in fight to 'restore democracy'

Government aligned Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim Sunday vowed to work together with ousted ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to "restore democracy" in the archipelago.

Gayoom on Thursday withdrew support for half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and has intensified his push to rally support.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the business tycoon, Gayoom said both the parties had agreed to work together to restore democracy and hold the government accountable.

Gasim echoed Gayoom's sentiments but stopped short of saying his party had officially withdrawn its support for the government.

Gayoom locked in a bitter power struggle with half brother president Yameen ruling party control has intensified efforts to rally key party figures to his faction. after a court order -- backed by the appellate courts had handed over PPM control to the younger Gayoom.

The elder Gayoom on Sunday also announced his intention to approach all political parties and rally support for his cause.

JP has recently changed its stance over its own support for the government had announced plans to independently contest the next presidential elections in 2018.

Gasim has been looking to annul an amendment to the constitution passed last year, putting a 65 age cap on presidential candidates which had taken him out of reckoning.

The business tycoon had unsuccessfully contested the last two presidential elections and had almost pipped president Yameen to second place which the latter won after a run off with former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Gasim dubbed as the 'king maker', remains a key political player as his support had secured the last two elections, first for Nasheed and later for Yameen.

His support for Gayoom would be a major boost for the ex-president after the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had also pledged support for the elder Gayoom.

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.

Gayoom later suspended the internal committees of the party after one voted his son out of the party for breaking a whip-line.

Two government lawmakers then filed a civil lawsuit against the elder Gayoom claiming that the ruling party had been hijacked.

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

The High Court had upheld the court order granting full control of 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 Supreme Court however, rejected the appeal saying that there were no grounds to overturn the ruling.

The verdict came as Gayoom was preparing to hold a rally to mark the party's fifth anniversary at the PPM headquarters. However, police had blocked the rally after the Supreme Court verdict.

Gayoom then proceeded to hold a small gathering at a different venue, where he withdrew support for his half brother.

"I don't believe that this government now follows the principles and beliefs of this party. Since I'm the ruling party leader, I also have to take some blame for the wrongdoings of the government. So effective immediately, I'm withdrawing my support for the government," Gayoom announced.

The rift between the two brothers has split the party in two and the elder Gayoom has continued to rally key figures to his side.

President Yameen who until this point had maintained that the dispute could still be resolved through dialogue, has not responded to losing Gayoom's support which according to his opponents could be a major blow for his chances of re-election in 2018.