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Maldives: Current Situation Is Disturbing – Analysis

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By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

For a small place like Maldives, current developments should be cause for concern to the neighbouring countries and particularly India.

For an observer from outside it looks that a “battle royal” is going on between the Government, its security forces and the civil service including the judiciary on one side and the opposition led by the ousted former President Mohamed Nasheed on the other.

Added to this is the excessive enthusiasm of the security forces shown on behalf of the government and this has only made the law and order situation worse. One girl from opposition who was affected in an offensive of the Police termed the behaviour of the security forces as “animalistic.” The opposition is still able to muster a crowd of 5000 anytime to oppose the government policies. The forces faced stiff opposition when the structures made by the MDP in the meeting ground at Usfasgandu were being dismantled and the High court order stopping the demolition came too late!

On the economic front, Maldives is the only country in this region that has not seen an increase in tourist arrivals this year. Inflation on an average is about 15.99 percent and the budget deficit is projected to go up by 27 percent of the GDP. In order to please certain sections the government is forced to subsidise and there is also an increase in capital expenditure on government institutions. There is also a drop in government income by 23 percent. The most recent case is the attempt to placate the media by giving government notifications and announcements which the President says is necessary for the media to survive!

President Waheed is digging his heels. He made the most shocking statement that he does not have to resign even if it is proved that there was a “coup” unless his involvement in the coup was established. If Nasheed’s ouster was found to be illegal even then he can continue as the “Maldivian laws ” do not permit any change! So he says. What a stand for Stanfordian who has seen many UN jobs? Apparently he is enjoying the power which he would not be doing but for a quirk of circumstances!

Clearly, President Waheed has consolidated his position. But this has been possible only because as one observer said, by sacrificing his powers to appease the coalition partners, who have but for a few hiccups appear to stay in contact so far. But this may not last long. Gayoom is still seen to be guiding the country from behind. The current approach of the government to use religious paranoia and the security forces to break the rallies has the foot prints of Gayoom!

Will the coalition stay in tact when we see differences erupting between the DQP and the DRP and between DRP and the PPM? Will Waheed have presidential ambitions for another full term? One cannot say now as that would depend on what former President Gayoom wants to do. There are also other ambitious persons who were directly or indirectly responsible for ousting Nasheed. Gasim is one. Nothing is heard of Yameen, Gayoom’s step brother. Would Dr. Hassan Saeed who is playing the second fiddle by ‘advising’ and contributing his thoughts in the local papers regularly be happy to be in the same position in the next elections?

What I am surprised is that India has been completely outwitted and outmaneuvered. ( This has happened in Sri Lanka too)

The Indian-sponsored talks on road map is moving slowly after many hiccups. The agenda consisted of six items in the order of 1. Public order and stability 2. State Budget Concerns 3. Independence of national institutions 4. Identification and revision of laws. 5. Constitutional amendments 6. Setting a date for early elections.

Discussion was more on thirty points put forth by the government side which consisted mostly of “don’ts” and the talks obviously have not progressed at all.

Setting a date for early elections is the last priority though India wanted this to be given top priority. President Waheed and more than he, Gayoom’s daughter Dunya has repeatedly said that elections cannot be held without constitutional amendments. The earliest date will be July 2013 and whatever India may want or say privately, President Waheed as advised by Gayoom is not going to hold the elections anytime sooner.

Gayoom claimed a month ago that “international calls for early elections have grown faint” and was not an issue anymore!

President Waheed claimed after his five-day visit to India that the Indian Government is with him. He did play lip service for early elections to please the Indian hosts, though earlier he had categorically declared that the next elections will be only in July 2013. He succeeded in persuading India to give an additional standby credit of 20 (25?) Million dollars and roll over for one year of the SBI Treasury bonds of US $ 50 million.

On the other hand, the Commonwealth Action Group (CMAG) succeeded in forcing the government before the deadline to expand the membership of the National Enquiry Commission (CNI) to expand it to include one foreign Judge from Singapore and one nominee by Nasheed. The government had put almost impossible conditions on the nomination by Nasheed. Finally just before the deadline and after many rejections one name was accepted. The revised membership of the Commission was announced on the 18th.

But before the new revised commission could start functioning, the government released a 283-point “time line” for the information of the public. This was most unfair and it is not clear who is advising President Waheed to do this. The MDP soon after published a detailed report giving specific names of individuals in the conspiracy that led to the ouster of former President Nasheed. Now the government is harassing the whistle blowers including the chief of intelligence for exposing the members of the security forces.

This has been followed by another report by Maria Ahmed Didi of the MDP naming President Waheed specifically for his involvement in toppling the elected government of Nasheed. Maria says that she has taken the points only from the time line given by the government!

What we see is a complete breakdown in the relations between the government now in power and the opposition MDP that has a sizeable following. The fight is getting bitter and the “report war” is the latest. Both sides are moving ahead vehemently giving no space for reconciliation. This is a very disturbing trend.

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.

7 thoughts on “Maldives: Current Situation Is Disturbing – Analysis

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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    You are very right when you say as an observer from outside. As an observer from outside you seem to have no clue at all.
    Gayoom is reviled by all people apart from his own party. This is the same with Nasheed too. Gayoom was a dictator and we replaced him with another dictator. Just because Nasheed gave freedom of speech does not mean we had freedom. He did whatever he wanted and he operated outside the constitution. He locked the Supreme Court, arrested opposition MPs and the final straw was that he kidnapped a High Court Judge using the military instead of the Police. There were a lot of corruption involving people higher up in his government.

    His party is imploding from inside with MPs and prominent politicians deserting him. MDP could easily get crowds of close to 20,000 during the days of February, March yet now they are struggling to even get a 1000 to 2000 people to a rally. The normal crowd now is about 250 to 300 people.
    The administration of Waheed is very prudent in that they can easily overpower MDP with sheer numbers but that was exactly what Nasheed wanted on the 6th February. A free for all between his followers and the rest so that he can declare martial law. His followers are hell bent on destroying the country and it is the combined opposition to Nasheed that is holding the opposition together.
    Even now if he and his close people like Maria Didi and Reeko resigns from the MDP and give the complete reins to other capable people, the opposition to MDP would fragment.
    Frankly, for someone who claims to be strategic analyst, it seems that you do not seem to know what exactly is going on the Maldives.
    In fact India has played a very clever hand here and has strengthened her position in her relationship with Maldives, which actually may not be a good thing for Maldives.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    June 23, 2012 at 7:45 am
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    Thank you for the article, this is very true & yes the situation in Maldives is very disturbing. The head figures involved in bringing the coup knows its only a matter of time, they will all be jailed brought to justice. Some of their families already moved abroad and others have started moving! for Waheed US will probably give him shelter!
    Make no mistake! the Police & Military was against Nasheed and most of them didnt vote for Nasheed in 2008, Nasheed came to power by ppl’s vote! and the coup was sucessful only by the Military’s involvement which is very sad and something no Maldivians expected! we all had faith in the military till last minute until they commited mutiny!
    Unfortunately MDP didnt win a clear majority in parliament in 2009 so all so called “independant bodies” such as Police integrity, human rights, PG etc gave a blind eye on the coup and even today they are continuing to stay quiet!
    if you think we got rid of Asia’s longest running dictator in 2008 you are wrong! what we are witnessing today is the return of the Dictator!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    June 23, 2012 at 8:53 am
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    Dear Manik, for the sake of this argument i accept that Nasheed did things out side the law, but does that give them the power to use police and Military to change the government. Then they are no better than Nasheed. They should use appropriate methods like impeachment or supreme court. I say as an outsider, you have done a very good analysis of the current situation in Maldive and thank you for that.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    June 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm
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    Manik, you too seem to be opertaing outside. From the realm of reality that is. perhaps you were overseas, disconnected from the world or hibernating during yesterday’s protest. 230 – 300 people? Really? If you just missed it and are genuinely ignorant (and not trying to mislead) I could provide photos. People are signing up to the party. At a signing up event in Addu, nearly 250 signed up – in just a few hours. Frankly, if you are a Maldivian, you seem to be very much out of the loop :)

    What freedom of expression and speech was withheld? 2 media channels, DhiTV and VTV, operated by 2 moguls who fund the opposition and heavily invested in the coup constantly defamed President Nasheed and his government. A former employee at DhiTV recently spoke out about the fabrications that were ongoing at their newsroom constantly. Nasheed did not do anything to prevent them from saying anything. Some of the stories did not add up at all, and some reports used such derogatory language that it was embarrassing, especially with kids being around when these prime time ‘reports’ were being aired. Broadcasting Commission was asleep, and Nasheed let them ‘express’ their thoughts without restricting them.
    Religious scholars too were allowed to preach freely. In Maumoon’s time, as you well know unless you are in denial, Islamic scholars as Sheikh Fareed were arrested and tortured. Many many such incidents have been exposed, and yet you say the two are the same? For someone who seems keen to question the author’s analytic skills, you seem a bit biased :) just saying.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    June 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm
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    manik here has given a very false impression of things down here in Maldives. Public support is with Nasheed whether one likes it or not!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    June 24, 2012 at 6:43 am
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    The report is very much true. To people like Manik & Maldivian, truth is not digestible cos they are part & parcel of what we freedom loving Maldivians are fighting against. Love of money and power is something which we cannot erase completely in mere three or so odd years. The evil had taken roots & grown far too big to tackle so easily since Gayyoom took office with a pistol hidden in his waistband.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    June 25, 2012 at 4:04 am
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    I would say this report is very much one sided. Both Gayyoom and Nasheed are dictators. Nasheed came to power in the name of democracy but he never practiced what he preach. What we have seen from Nasheed’s version of democracy is an absolute dictatorship.

    We Maldivians don’t need dictators to rule our beloved nation. Thank God, Gayyoom and Nasheed are gone from power.

    We hope the present situation improves over time for a better tomorrow.

    Reply

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