By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.
On 15th July, the Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz filed charge sheets against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Tholiath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu for their alleged role in detaining criminal court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed in January this year.
The charge sheet said that they had violated Article 81 of the Penal Code where the detention of a government employee who has not been found guilty of a crime, is considered as illegal.
If sentenced Nasheed and Tholiath will face a jail term or banishment for three years and or a fine of Ruffia 3000.
It looks that the government has shed all its pretences of going for reconciliation with the ousted President Nasheed and with this, the initiative taken by India in starting the “All Party Road Map Talks” is also dead and buried. It should also be clear to the policy makers in India that President Waheed and his government have no intention of holding early elections as promised earlier.
This also coincides with the week long direct action protests by MDP protestors led by Nasheed that had often resulted in regular and in some cases brutal confrontation between the Police and the demonstrators. The MDP claims that over a hundred of its protestors have been arrested. One graphic picture in the media showed a bald headed protester being hit on his head by a lathi by the police.
As expected Nasheed’s reaction has been very strong and is reflected t in one his fiery speeches during the protest-
“You can torture me. You can chain me to a chair. You can put me in solitary confinement. You can isolate me from my family. You can harass me and torture me. You can destroy me through the court. But tell you what: you can never kill the ideology of the Maldivian Democratic Party in this country anymore, “, and the supporters roared in support.
As if to rub salt in the wound, Home minister Jameel said that it is a “historic criminal trial” and the first step towards the national healing process. We have seen the healing process in the last seven days with the law and order situation getting more serious with each day of protest.
It looks that prosecution will be one of the means that is being adopted to prevent Nasheed from contesting the next presidential elections. It may be recalled that in the internal poll held to select the presidential candidate by the MDP, Nasheed obtained over 31,000 votes.
The deputy head of the PPM which is literally running the government, Umar Naseer expressed his confidence last month that former President Nasheed will see his imprisonment before the scheduled elections in July 2013. ( note the date).
The powerful Adviser to the President Dr. Hassan Saeed also in a similar vein said that he “does not believe that Nasheed will be a free man during the time of next Presidential elections.” Is it not ironic that it is the same Saeed who in his capacity as Attorney General in Gayoom’s regime had way back in 2005 filed a complaint against Judge Abdulla on allegations of misogyny, sexual deviation and also throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused? ? It is Abdulla’s detention in late January that triggered the prosecution case against Nasheed.
It is said that the final report by the newly reconstituted Commission of National Enquiry will be delayed by a month. The new committee has begun its enquiry with two new members, one a nominee of Nasheed and another a Judge (Justice Selvam) Singapore.
The time line produced by the old committee before the new one was constituted has created an avoidable controversy. It is alleged by the MDP that this report was an attempt to prejudice the work of the new committee. A rejoinder to the time line produced by the MDP- the “Ameen- Aslam” report has resulted in an expected reaction of the government terming it as a “terrorist Act” and both Ameen and Aslam are being prosecuted as terrorists! Ameen was the National Security Adviser during Nasheed’s tenure and he is fully aware of the circumstances under which Nasheed resigned.
It is back to the Gayoom days when Nasheed was prosecuted under terrorism laws when he protested against the government in a public place!
Nasheed’s recent statement in US that tourists should boycott Maldives has caused a near panic in the country. This will hurt the country a lot more than even the ongoing violent street protests. An emergency resolution has been introduced in the Majlis on 7th July by a few members to discuss the tourism boycott call.
What is surprising is that Nasheed is still able to organise protests on a massive scale and it looks that he is determined to fight on. The Maldivian Government under President Waheed appears to be equally determined to put down the protests and go ahead with the prosecution of Nasheed without leaving any space for reconciliation. This is a dangerous trend.