Top court dismisses PPM leadership dispute

Supreme Court of the Maldives has dismissed the lawsuits filed by two locals at the Civil Court requesting to return Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leadership to former president Maumon Abdul Gayyoom.

PPM’s party charters dictate the head of ruling-PPM must be the Maldivian President. Yameen’s defeat in the Presidential Election 2018 created questions over his authority at PPM, at which point the two cases were filed at the Civil Court.

While one case was filed when the leadership position of the party was vacated following the presidential election, the second case was filed after the Elections Commission (EC) refused to endorse PPM's extra-ordinary congress in October. The two lawsuits were later taken over by the Supreme COurt, after PPM submitted complaints at the apex court stating that the Civil Court already issued a ruling on an issue pertaining to the PPM leadership, and therefore, the court no longer has the mandate to handle the case.

PPM was taken from the leadership of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom and handed over to his half brother, Yameen Abdul Gayyoom in a ruling issued by the Civil Court. The court had granted a period of 24 hours for the party's council to decide on whom to hand over party leadership to. The council had then decided to unceremoniously oust Maumoon from the party and handover party leadership to head advisor and then president of the Maldives, Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.

The Supreme Court held the preliminary hearings of the cases in January, to decide if the case can be overseen by the Civil Court. President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom intervened into the case, and stated that the current case was completely different and irrelevant to the leadership case earlier tried by the Civil Court.

However, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that both the cases sought the same outcome, which was to handover party leadership to Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, therefore, it is similar to the previous case in nature. In today's verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict made by the Civil Court in 2017 regarding the PPM leadership, noting that the two recent cases regarding the transfer of leaders was prompted by the Elections Commission's declaration that the PPM's extraordinary congress was invalid, However, it should no longer be an issue as the Supreme Court has now validated the congress, read the verdict. Furthermore, there is no official documentation proving that the ousted Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom had rejoined the party at any point after his dismissal, it said.

While Supreme Court has ruled as such, Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom has already announced that he will be registering a new political party under the name Maldives Reform Movement, having lhad ost all hope of PPM leadership being reinstated to him. The move was prompted by the Supreme Court's verdict declaring the PPM congress as valid, effectively legitimizing leadership of PPM to Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.