Gayoom's daughter stirs up mixed emotions with 'shock' u-turn

It does not take long for one to go from hero to villain in Maldives politics. When defections and sudden u-turns in allegiance are common, there is an extremely fine line between loyalty and betrayal. Despite the volatile nature of the archipelago's politics, it is at the best of times, easy to predict or foresee.

But the shock announcement of the return of former foreign minister Dhunya Maumoon to the government was an exception to the rule of the rather predictable Maldives politics. The obvious step-down from a key portfolio to a 'lowly' state minister aside, Dhunya's return exemplifies a seismic shift in the bitter dispute between arguably two of the most powerful men in the tiny island nation.

Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and his half brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been locked in an ugly power struggle for ruling party control which had split the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in two.

Dhunya along with siblings Yumna and Faaris had been dragged into the bitter dispute between their uncle and father who had officially withdrawn support for the government after the civil court had handed the ruling party control to the younger Gayoom.

Dhunya had continued to publicly criticize president Yameen and his government amid the feud.
The elder Gayoom's youngest son Ghassan Maumoon was the only child who had backed president Yameen in the feud before Dhunya's shock appointment.

The former president was quick to quash rumours of a possible mended fences with his half brother by insisting that his daughter's decision was 'her own' which did not have his support.

As soon as the announcement was made public, Dhunya rather understandably sparked contrasting sentiments as top government figures heaped praise while the clearly aggrieved opposite camp expressed 'shock'.

The former top diplomat made a futile attempt to calm the social media storm with a rather 'weak' explanation.

"I have chosen to accept the position of State Minister at the Ministry of Health. Look forward to serve the citizens of Maldives," Dhunya said on Twitter.

Regardless of her reasons, Dhunya's u-turn has definitely extended the 'split' from the ruling party to the elder Gayoom's immediate family. The spat between the two Gayooms albeit on 'slow burner' in recent months, has taken yet another twist with the 'royal siblings' split on opposite corners.