By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
The CNI report absolving the present government, its security forces and the politicians of any wrongdoing must have come as a big shock to former President Nasheed. It was unexpected and unreal. This should again prove to Nasheed that in politics idealism does not pay!
The immediate reaction of Nasheed was one of disbelief. He said that “it left Maldives in a very awkward and in many ways a very comical situation when toppling the government by brute force is taken to be a very reasonable course of action.”
Nasheed’s hopes that elections will be held early will not be fulfilled when the present government under President Waheed and former president Gayoom who is the adviser from behind the scenes will ensure that Nasheed is prevented at any cost from contesting the next elections.
In this, it appears that the judiciary will also go against Nasheed with a vengeance. It is known that the judiciary in the current dispensation is the weakest link in Maldives. One should read in detail the book by Aishath Velezinee -“the failed silent Coup,” that describes how the judicial commission with outside help managed to make incompetent judges get permanent positions in the judicial system! Nasheed made the biggest mistake in allowing this fraud to be perpetrated when he was in a justifiable position to take action. Instead he overreached subsequently in arresting the chief criminal judge Abdulla which finally resulted in the coup.
Nasheed should take note of the following.
1. The present Government is stacked with pro Gayoom people in important positions and will do everything to marginalise Nasheed and his MDP. One should look at the following list of people in important positions in the present government. They are all Gayoom’s people!
Dunya Maumoon – Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Gayoom’s daughter)
Ghassan Maumoon- Minister of State for Human Resources (Gayoom’s son)
Abdul Samad Abdulla – Minister of Foreign Affairs (PPM member)
Abdulla Jihad – Minister of Finance and Treasury (Gayoom’s former Finance Minister)
Mohamed Waheed Deen – Vice President (Gayoom’s former Attorney General)
Azima Shakooru – Attorney General (former Attorney General under Gayoom in 2007)
Mohamed Husain Sharif Mundu – Minister of Youth Affairs (PPM Spokesperson)
Ismail Shafeeu – CoNI co-chair (Gayoom’s former Minister of Defence and National Security)
Ahmed Mujuthaba – Mediator in all-party talks (Gayoom’s former Minister of Tourism)
(Sources: SA Global Affairs, Minivan News)
2. By now India appears to have given up its push for early elections. The Indian proposal on the agenda for meeting began after the Indian foreign Secretary visit is now converted into “Leaders Dialogue” and the subject of early elections has been deliberately left out. That it is comfortable with the present situation could be seen by the way Gayoom was invited to Delhi and was met by senior leaders including the Prime Minister. The Defence Minister A.K.Antony who made a visit to Maldives last month pointedly avoided meeting Nasheed. The 25 million dollar standby credit promised is being expedited as Maldives is going through a severe economic crisis. There could be problems between the two countries if the GMR agreement on the expansion of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport is scuttled as there is intense internal pressure from within the Maldivian government to change the terms of the contract.
3. Waheed’s Government will not go for any dialogue unless it is on their terms. There are pious hopes from analysts in India, the media and even some from the Indian establishment that dialogue is the best way forward to resolve the present crisis in Maldives. Soon after the CNI report, the MDP made an offer to join the present coalition government. This was summarily dismissed both by President Waheed who was outside the country and the government spokesman Abas Adil Riza who derisively rejected it with his comment that the “attempt of MDP to join the government lacked sincerity.” Reconciliation is therefore out of question and there should concerns for continuing instability in Maldives. The brutal killing recently of PPM MP Dr. Afrasheen, considered as an Islamic moderate should be cause for concern.
In the case filed against Nasheed who stands charged for unconstitutional arrest and subsequent detention of Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohammed, the Hulhumale Court issued an arrest warrant against Nasheed after he failed to appear before the court twice earlier. Nasheed and his MDP questioned the legitimacy of the Hulhumale court and the three member panel appointed to oversee the proceedings and refused to take cognizance of the case or of the proceedings of the court. This was a wrong stand and the court was fully justified in issuing an arrest warrant though one could question the timing of the warrant and the over enthusiasm of the police to arrest Nasheed.
On 8th of October while Nasheed in his tour of southern islands was staying in Dhaal Atoll, fifty police men in full riot gear stormed into the house where Nasheed was staying and arrested him. There was no attempt to resist the arrest nor was there any attempt to delay the arrest. The Police unnecessarily smashed open the door and it is alleged that they used pepper spray. Nasheed was brought before the court the next morning and in the court he alleged that it was a deliberate attempt by the Prosecutor General to bar the presidential candidacy of the largest political party in the next presidential elections.
There were inevitable protests both before the court and elsewhere by the activists of MDP, but no major untoward incident was reported.
Nasheed in his interview to the Time Magazine said that the Maldivian Democratic Party will bide its time and seek to take advantage of growing splits among the motley forces now aligned against him. This should be the best policy though it is not clear what strategy he is going to adopt to ensure that he is not barred from contesting the next elections.