Friday, July 24, 2015

Maldives President's brother, Mamoon Abdul Gayoom raises objections to constitutional amendment favouring China

The Abdullah Yameeen government's decision to amend the Constitution to allow land holdings to foreigners that may lead to larger Chinese footprints in Maldives have drawn ire from no less than Mamoon Abdul Gayoom, former President and brother of current leader.

Gayoom, former Maldivian strongman and one who still wields influence, has not only tweeted to lodge his protests but also demanded a referendum through a letter to Yameen on the controversial move that has raised eyebrows not in Delhi but also in Male.

Gayoom, the leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and half brother of Yameen, urged the president to seek public opinion on ratifying the constitutional amendment. In a letter sent to Yameen, Gayoom said previous governments had refrained from selling parts of Maldivian territory to prevent influence "over the country's independence, sovereignty, and resources", political sources told ET from Male over phone.

This is the first time Gayoom has publicly opposed Yameen. Sources indicated that Gayoom is also unhappy with the appointment of Ahmed Adeeb as the country's Vice President. Former Tourism Minister Adeeb is the closest political aide of Yameen and wields enormous influence in the current administration. The provisions of the new law will allow foreigners who invest more than $1billion to purchase land. At least 70% of the project site must be reclaimed. The constitution previously prohibited foreign ownership of any part of Maldivian territory, but allowed leasing of land for up to 99 years.

There has been concern within the security establishment at the new law, given that it could, technically, enable a foreign nation to recover land and set up critical infrastructure, including those of a military/surveillance nature on the island chain.


No comments: