Thursday, September 22, 2005

Grooming a successor?

When Gayoom went to the United Nations General Assembly this year he took his youngest child Ghassan and his wife. This has started rumors that Ghassan is the chosen successor. Getting rid of those who want to dethrone him has been easy. Just throw them in jail on trumped up charges. Since Gayyoom came to power, everyone who has opposed him has been accused of outrageous crimes with most of them serving years in prison. His opponents are labelled as criminals, terrorists and Christian missionaries in the government controlled local media andto the outside world they are usually depicted as Islamic fundamentalists.
Fending off those family members who wish to succed him has required more cunning and manouvering. Infighting, nepotism and corruption among the elite has always been the cause of instability and suffering for the Maldive people. Holding over 15 cabinet posts in the government, Gayyoom and his family head most of the portfolios. This pattern continues down to distant cousins. Although not all have put in their bids to be President, most are aspiring to higher positions constantly. And Gayoom rewards and relies on them to keep the government bureaucracy in control. His younger brother Hameed has manipulated the Parliament and the people of the atolls until about an year ago, content to be a President by default if Gayoom should fall ill. According to insiders Gayoom has inimated to his nephews Hamdhoon and Midhath that they are Prime Ministerial candidates when he creates that position. Both of them hold ministers portfolios. Recently Midhath has been appointed as Ambassodor to Malaysia to spy on the large number of students there.
Although there are quite a few in the family who hope to succed him, the first to try to takeover was Illyas, his brother-in-law. After Gayoom took the oath, Ilyas was in charge of STO/Ministry of Defense/Police and various other powerful positions. He bought off senior government and military officials, and in 1993 Mr. Ilyas challenged Gayyoom in the Presidential election, which resulted in Gayyoom charging Ilyas with corruption and even of plotting to assassinate the President by Black Magic. Ilyas was sentenced in absentia, as he 'conveniently' fled the country straight after the 1993 election when Gayoom used the STO/FPID corruption case to scare him off. However, to the amazement of all Maldivians, Ilyas was pardoned after performing some vague and unheard of prayers among other things and came straight back into the cabinet in 1998 .
With his brother-in-law firmly under control, it appeared that his daughter Dunya was being groomed to take over. He made a big thing about emancipating women, appointing women as island chiefs and generally giving Dunya and women a high profile on the media.
However soon his younger brother Yameen was pushing to be president. Gayoom also needed Yameen and his gang of thugs to confront the emerging MDP. So it appeared for a while that Yameen was Gayooms chosen one. However this new move appears to point in the direction that Gayoom is grooming Ghassan the younger son as the word is that the elder son Faarish is a bit of a wierdo.
But maldivian politics are strange and even in the days of the sultanate, it was more often the case that the children did not succed their father.

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