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Maldives: Some Points Former President Nasheed Should Ponder – OpEd

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By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

There is no doubt that former President Nasheed was forced to quit by the machinations of a few disgruntled- serving and retired security personnel and Islamists with a strong backing of those political leaders opposed to Nasheed and his party. As someone had said, it was the result of a nexus amongst the money bags, Islamists and those in opposition. And there was Gayoom all over directing from behind. Yet the odds for having early elections appear to be not so bright and he needs to reexamine his own strategy now.

The daily processions growing in numbers in the last days of Nasheed’s regime before February 7th gave an indication that Nasheed could not have withstood the “onslaught.” However right Nasheed may be in continuing with the protests calling for early elections, he should in my view consider the following points in working out a strategy that would, not necessarily bring him back to power but to “restore democracy” as he himself had pointed out.

  • So far the MDP has been able to organise impressive protests in Male and other places. The April 20 rally of MDP calling for Speaker’s resignation saw a gathering of about 10,000. The May day rally on 1st May turned out to be another big protest rally. There have been minor rallies in the evenings between 5.30 and 7.30. The students who are taking the final examination in Male have protested about the disturbances and the rallies are being conducted in a very low key. Differences within the party have arisen over the efficacy of continued street protests. The question is whether Nasheed could sustain the street protests for long when the Government is in no mood to relent? It is going to be difficult and the MDP may in due course lose sympathy of the people and may also see attrition from the party itself. ( The latter has already happened)
  • Nasheed’s visit to India has not been much of a success. He met the Prime minister on the 23rd along with his trusted colleagues of the party. On the eve of his meeting the external affairs ministry indicated India’s position “that engagement of all stake holders . . . will facilitate a constructive dialogue among all the political parties and help in bringing stability . . .” The PM in his meeting with Nasheed stressed on the road map of Feb 16 given by the Indian foreign secretary which calls for early elections. The road map is now dead and gone and India is neither in a position nor will it even try to resurrect the road map.
  • President Waheed is consolidating his position. He had made sure that the army and police are with him. He has promoted 1000 Police Officers, almost a third of the force and has plans to recruit another 200 officers. He has four senior officers as Asst. Commissioners. The Army personnel have been given a lump sum payment amounting to two years of allowances. He has reimbursed the cut enforced by Nasheed to all the civil servants and the amount involved is huge- US $ 28.80 million. Thus, the loyalty of the civil servants, armed and police forces have been bought. A New York based Public Relations firm has been appointed for three months for “improving the image of the country.”
  • President Waheed is also dismantling all the projects like the decentralization that were close to Nasheed’s heart. All the seven national offices in the regions and the seven national units have been abolished and the functions re transferred to local councils. The samandha scheme that gave easy medical aid to the poor people will be restricted only to government hospitals and not the private ones.
  • The present government under President Waheed has enough strength in the Majlis to carry on with its programmes. The MDP with its membership of 32 out of a total of 77 is in no position to challenge the decisions. The entire cabinet suggested by th President has been approved and so was the case of the Bondos resorts chief as Vice President. One serious development is the closure of the case against DQP MP Riyad Rasheed’s Meridien group.
  • The CMAG on 16th April gave a dead line of one month for early elections and for a credible independent presence in the commission of national enquiry to look into the incidents surrounding the February 7 incidents. It has threatened “further strong measures” against the Maldivian government otherwise. On 20th itself President Waheed ruled out early elections. His office said that the “Maldivian Constitution is very clear that the presidential elections can be held at the earliest by July 2013 and that the CMAG is fully aware of it.” As for the stronger measures- Gayoom’s party along with DQP has introduced a motion in the Majlis to withdraw the membership from the commonwealth. Also, Gayoom has spoken. He said so on 27th April, questioning the very basis of Maldives continuing in the commonwealth when his country was never under the colonial rule! Already the situation in Fiji is being examined after it was suspended in 2009. There the Chinese have replaced both Australia and New Zealand in a big way and the country is not doing badly either. Commodore Bainimarama is in no mood to conduct the elections earlier than 2014 and in fact may continue longer. This despite sanctions and other coercive measures!
  • Another difficulty will be in keeping the party (MDP) intact. The latest episode where both the serving president and the vice president of the party Dr. Ibrahim Didi and Alhan Fahmy were sacked by the National Council of the party for failure to endorse and issue contradictory statements on the resolution adopted by the party on February does not augur well for the party. Differences are cropping in and one MP of the party defied the party directive and attended the proceedings of the assembly. Nasheed has a challenging task of keeping the flock together.

Former President Nasheed is and would continue to be an enduring symbol of democracy in Maldives. He is an activist at heart and the people are with him. He needs patience and has to work steadily. It is said that he had been arrested 27 times, spent 18 months in solitary confinement and did not have the chance to see his family when his two daughters were born! He has to arrest the attrition from his party and prepare for the presidential elections.

His major challenge will be that almost all the parties except his own are likely to use Islam as a tool to further their political ends. He needs to be careful in his pronouncements. Even an innocent figure of speech that he would even go to “hell” and come back has been termed as “unislamic”.

How is he going to prove that Islam and Democracy can coexist? That will be his main challenge.

SAAG

SAAG

SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.

9 thoughts on “Maldives: Some Points Former President Nasheed Should Ponder – OpEd

  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 12:03 am
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    Wow…wow..wow Mr Sekharan, you have certainly benefited a lot from Nasheed’s dictatorial regime. You talk about huge demostration especially on May day, if 250 people is huge from a 350,000 population then yes its huge.
    Get the facts right and dont try to con Mr Sekharan.
    This man Nasheed is a phsycopath and if you are so interested in him, please take him to India, maybe he can help your country to bring in more democracy.

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    • Avatar
      May 5, 2012 at 9:23 am
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      Ali Ahmed, that is true. This man Nasheed needs to be tried in courts for the corrupt deals he’s done in just three years.

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  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 7:24 am
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    Mr Sekharan! when you write an article first please gether correct information. I didnt find once you have mentioned that Mr.Nasheed as a president behaving like dictator rather than democratically elected president. over 400 islands was given to his freinds- established many corporates n companies made of his firends who even in maldivian standard wouldnt be called educated.

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  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 9:44 am
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    thank u for such a well researched review. every time a foreign journalist writes an article such as these it throws me aback by surprise that why the locals find it so hard that single head governing a country is considered a taboo in this world now.specially those who were funded to study abroad by the former dictator are blind to the fact that President Nasheed is a visionary leader unlike the rest.so far the opposition is unable to sell a vision the public would accept.

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  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 9:45 am
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    I agree that the author should get the facts right.. I live in Male’ (which the author would know to be a pretty small island of some 2 sq km, I hope?) yet I never realised there were such huge demonstrations on May Day. MDP support has definitely been waning, and some thing the author may have thought about mentioning, perhaps, is that the ousting of the MDP President and VP was carried out by a National Council consisting of only about 70 of the 120 or 140 members of that council, chaired by an Interim Chairperson of the MDP who had no legal authority, and that this move has alienated much of MDP support in Addu atoll, which is the second largest stronghold of MDP, since both the ousted persons are from Addu.
    As a Maldivian, I deplore the attempts by other countries and by Commonwealth, as represented by CMAG, to override our Constitution. I wonder what right they or any other nation has to dictate that a country has to ignore its own constitution? I would ask the author to think about say even the UN ordering India to put aside its constitution to follow some ruling, on top of there not being any proper investigation yet to find facts??
    I rest my case.

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  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 10:27 am
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    @ Ali Ahmed. Calm down brother. This old fool has been writing crap about Maldives for quite a long time. He has always been factually incorrect and lacks knowledge of the inner working of Maldivian politics. Imagine what will happen if you and I make analysis of Indian politics based on a few news articles we read online here and there. Now imagine Dr. S making analysis of Maldives politics based on one or two online newspapers that has less than a third of news in English language except Minivan News which is registered under Nasheed’s brother (earlier owned by Nasheed himself) and the reporting by MDP activists??? So chill it bro. Let the man take (false) pride in his big OpEd pieces. Bleh ;)

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  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 11:20 am
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    Hehe, the comment of Ali Ahmed above … it shows it all, the mindset of the undemocratic and – indeed – religious extremist ‘thinkers’.
    Perhaps on advice of infamous Ruder Finn ?
    The coup d’etat was live on all TV channels and the whole world could see how rogue police and religious extremists went hand-in-hand to overthrow the first ever democratically elected AND democratic government and president in our country.
    Doesnt matter whether one approves or disapproves the govt of president Anni, a violent and brutal coup against the nation and the citizens can never be justified. Unless of course by people who dont want to see the truth.
    Pictures of protest against Anni were photoshopped – in real like 1000, on pics even up to 5000 were shown :-) — pity I cannot upload the same here.
    Brutal police was live on TV too – see like this video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWC0Nw5_LB4&feature=youtu.be
    In meantime the media – under control and paid by the dictators regime have removed their footage and replaced by tampered ones :-)) – bad luck, we have all downloaded and keep them in several safe places (the hunt is on now).
    The coup has not the numbers, they dont have any arguments left. The only things they talk about is “un-islamic”, drugs, alcohol … no other arguments to ‘convince’ …

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  • Avatar
    May 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm
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    The issues you raise are valid and real. What I noticed of interest however is the explicit assumption that perhaps since India have a non-interventionist policy, that Indian analysts also discount the focus on the universally accepted “principled stand” for assisting countries regain their lost democracy. The age gap between the Indian establishment and the younger Maldivian Presidency appear to be generations apart. One is seeped in “partition” mentality while the latter in more ideologically driven development politics and climate change…!

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    • Avatar
      May 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm
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      err.. universally accepted principled stand?? i wonder where you, matey, learned anything about international politics.. internal politics as far as i know is not meant to be interfered with by other countries or organizations, unless there is clear evidence of wrong doing. i wonder where the wrong doing is here, that someone who is clearly unable to rise about street politics and fragmenting a society was unable to stand pressure and resigned?? or was the wrong doing caused by this man himself, when he continually made a mockery of his previous position by going against the supreme court by locking out the judiciary, by arresting without any legal measures a chief justice, and subsequently ignoring the supreme court, independent commissions and also the UN itself when they called for the judge’s release, or when he changed the board of the airports company within one day in order to sign off the country’s international airport while in fact banning discussion of the issue in his own cabinet? and where was dignity and principle when MPs representing this same person made a farce of the parliament itself, when they danced and posed for photographs on top of the speaker’s table, and for some reason even posed with dustbins fitted on their heads? if all that is democracy, then i’m astounded.

      Reply

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