This article first appeared on Dhivehisitee. Republished with permission.
Presidential candidate No 1 Gasim Ibrahim, who came third on Saturday’s vote count with 24 per cent, has refused to accept the result and threatened to create mayhem on the streets of Male’ until he is declared winner.
“I will be taking the oath on 11 November,” Gasim declared at a rally held at Maafannu Kunooz, a Jumhooree Party jagaha [hub] in Male’.
And to make that happen, Gasim and his team of agitators will lead the kind of street activities that culminated with the 7 February 2012 coup.
Their strategy goes something like this: a) declare the Elections Commission a corrupt organisation that engineered a 45 percent majority for MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed through fraud; b) denigrate Nasheed as Laa Dheenee [godless] scum who would erase Islam from the Maldives; c) ‘protest’ on the streets of Male’ until security forces are forced to crack down on them; d) make a free and fair democratic election impossible.
“People have been convicted and punished for stealing a spoon, an egg. But nothing has been done against the man who violated our Constitution,” Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, current Islamic Minister, screamed into the microphone.
‘We have to save our country and citizens from Nasheed’s Laa Dheene philosophy. Under no circumstances must we allow him to become our leader again,’ he said, calling upon the ‘Maldivian Ummah’ to rise up against him. Scores of men and women clapped and shouted ‘Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!’
One after another the most prominent hate-mongers in the country came on stage – Sheikh Imran Abdulla, the leader of Adhaalath; State Minister of Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed [Madhanee Ablow]; and Umar Naseer, Commando in Chief of the Coup. Looking on, applauding and cheering the hate and fitna were Gasim-allied dignitaries such as Gayoom’s brother-in-law Ilyas Ibrahim and Abdulla Kamaldeen, and educated people who should know better like Gasim’s running-mate Dr Hassan Saeed.
The speakers threatened Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek and mocked his wife as a supporter of the MDP. Umar Naseer ended his threats against Thowfeek by saying: “If you want to leave the country, you should do it now.”
Umar Naseer threatened violence, saying neither he nor Gasim or any of their followers will hesitate to spill their blood ‘for God and country.’
Expect similar hate-mongering for the next four nights, after which they will come out on the streets “until the Elections Commission gives in and declares the first round last Saturday null and void, or Gasim the winner.”
I am not sure how many international observers for these elections are still in Male’, or how many of them watched this hatred being spewed out live on Gasim’s VTV. It was all in Dhivehi, but there were many warnings intended for international ears.
“This is an internal matter that no foreigners have any say in. Stay out of it,” several of them, especially Sheikh Shaheem, declared repeatedly.
I hope the observers are, at the very least, taking note of all this and listening to the threat that Umar Naseer put thus: “Mohamed Nasheed will not be able to win these elections, whatever it takes.”
If these threats fall on deaf ears, it will be easy to make the same mistake as last time when the Commission of National Inquiry [CoNI], endorsed by the Commonwealth, ruled that the 23 nights of protests that led to the end of Nasheed’s government were “spontaneous” and “natural”.
There is nothing natural about any of this.
Dr Azra Naseem has a PhD in international relations
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