By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.
“It is a new sort of Coup”- Dr. Hassan Saeed, Adviser to President Waheed.
Former President Gayoom, who many suspect was behind the ouster of President Nasheed, returned to Male from Malaysia on the 6th of March.
Soon after arrival he ruled out snap elections and said that both the President and the Vice President were lawfully elected and that if the President resigns, then the elected Vice President takes over automatically as President. His step brother who engineered the coup from within echoed the same views and on the same day.
Gayoom’s and son and daughter have both been appointed as ministers of state, with both being given important portfolios- the daughter with the foreign affairs and the son with the lucrative fisheries ministry.
With Gayoom having said the final word and with all his faithfuls in important positions it is doubtful whether President Waheed would ever agree or will be allowed to agree for any interim elections before the scheduled one towards the end of 2013.
Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai made an unscheduled visit on 28th February to ensure a road map for amendments within a month and elections before the year end. This is unlikely to happen even if Mr. Mathai makes many more trips. Gayoom has said the last word.
What is more, there will be more efforts to denigrate former President Nasheed and charges real and imaginary are likely be framed against him. Already Gayoom’s party has filed two cases against Nasheed- one- for locking up of Supreme Court gate in 2008 when unqualified judges were surreptiously made permanent and two- (India to note)- for leasing Male Airport to the Indian company GMR for fifty years. There is a pliant judiciary to help them. My fear is that Nasheed will be made ineligible for contesting the next elections.
More serious- Nasheed needs physical protection. It is only the pressure from the international community that could help.
The CMAG Visit:
The Commonwealth Action Group which returned after a visit to Maldives had recommended the following:
1. An independent and impartial investigation of the events of 6-7 February should be completed in a transparent manner within a reasonable time frame.
2. Recognised the need for healing in Maldives. Called on concerned to show restraint and mutual respect.
3. Urged President Waheed and former President Nasheed to commence immediate dialogue without pre conditions.
4. To agree on a date for early elections within the calendar year.
5. For a dialogue to facilitate the opening of Majlis on 1st of March that would lead to the passage of necessary constitutional amendment for holding early elections.
6. Have noted the assurance of the new government that Nasheed would continue to receive protection provided in the constitution.
7. Commonwealth to ensure that technical assistance is provided to Maldives for capacity building in areas like judiciary.
The Secretary General of the Commonwealth appointed a special envoy Sir Donald Mckinnon to Maldives. His task is said to be
1. Promote consolidation of democratic culture and institutions.
2. To ensure commonwealth values and principles.
3. To encourage an inclusive agreement among political leaders on a way forward for the current political situation.
4. Oversee future commonwealth support including new technical assistance programmes and principally to strengthen the judiciary.
Pious objectives indeed but the state actors in the country are in no mood for reconciliation!
The Road Map and the Enquiry Commission:
After an initial hiccup, a “road map” meeting convened by President Waheed and coordinated by Ahmed Mujtaba met on the 29th to agree on seven items in the agenda. Interestingly the MDP was also represented by veteran MDP leader Ibrahim Mohamed ‘Ibu’ Solih. The items agreed upon included
1.Which laws have to be amended, and what new laws are needed.
2. Discuss and determine the changes that need to be brought to independent institutions and independent positions in the Constitution
3.To discuss amendments that need to be brought to the Constitution
4.To determine a date for the next Presidential elections
5. Find out the present condition of the budget How to have the March 1
6.Majlis opening to proceed in a peaceful manner .
7.How can to tackle and solve the present discord in Maldivian society?
The MDP agreed for the road map and a peaceful solution to the crisis but placed an early election date as a pre condition to continued progress in the talks. This was not accepted and sure enough the MDP legislators blocked President Waheed from addressing the Parliament on the 1st of March. Their contention was that Dr. Waheed had no right to address as an “illegitimate” President. Surely, the MDP should have allowed the President to address as it was his constitutional duty.
It looks that the “road map” is dying a slow death. Two parties one of Gayoom (PPM) and the other of Thasmeen Ali (DRP) have withdrawn from the road map talks on the excuse that MDP had blocked the parliament proceedings. The Coordinator of the road map Mujitaba has also gone out of the country for a private visit.
President Waheed has formed a “Commission of National Enquiry” and to be headed by Ismail Shafeeha with two other members – Ahmed Mujitaba and Dr. Ibrahim Yasir to enquire into the events that occurred between 14th January ( the day the Chief Criminal Judge was arrested) to 7th of February when President Nasheed was ousted. Shafeeha was said to be incharge of Home affairs when a prisoner in Mafushi jail- Evan Naseem was killed in custody -an event that triggered the democracy movement in 2003.
The Commission cannot do justice to the developments if it does not go back to the events of 23rd December when all the opposition parties, the Islamists and the radicals started a mass rally to oust Nasheed.
MDP has called for international involvement in the investigations.
President Waheed called on former president Gayoom at the latter’s residence and is said to have expressed his happiness for the support of Gayoom and his party to the new regime. He must have also conveyed the good news that he had abolished the “Presidential Commission” created by Nasheed to investigate corruption and human rights abuses under Gayoom.
Nasheed Realises too late in the day: History is full of such instances.
Nasheed in one of his speeches said – I quote-“ Let the Maldives be a lesson for aspiring democracies everywhere: the dictator can be removed in a day but it can take years to stamp out the lingering remnants of his dictatorships.”
Too late in the day he has realised it. He should have slowed down instead of going headlong against everyone- the civil service commissions, the judiciary , the security forces and his own coalition partners- all at the same time.