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, writes Dr S Chandrasekharan.
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!
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!