As I have written previously, the events that unfolded on February 7, 2012, were surely among the darkest and most regrettable in Maldivian history.
Whether we like it or not, the government is now in the hands of elements that belonged to the three decade-long authoritarian rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. President Waheed may be the face of this government, but however you look into it, you’ll see that he has neither the say nor the control of a president as outlined under the Maldivian constitution.
Instead, the likes of Yaameen (half brother of former President Gayoom), Gasim Ibrahim and Dr Hassan Saeed have assumed control of what was meant to be a government working to implement the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) manifesto, a document which the majority of the people had voted for in the presidential elections of 2008.
Regardless of the names on the ballot papers that helped secure the election for the MDP, the Maldivian people voted for the policy plans of the winning candidate, not for the face of the candidate or his running mate. This is a general political fact that revolves around any presidential election.
However, today what we see from President Waheed and his team is that they are determined to defy this fact. Every podium, every platform that Waheed’s government step onto, they keep on proclaiming that people had voted in the current president exactly the same way as they had for Nasheed, his deposed predecessor. All this, because Waheed’s name was on the ballot paper as Nasheed’s running mate.
In theory, this assumption by Waheed’s team may be partly correct. However, in practice, it is proven wrong by the results of the parliamentary and council elections that followed the MDP coming to power in 2008.
Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party, which barely has two thousand or so members, had fielded candidates personally endorsed by him. Take for example, Ahmed Thaufeeq (Topy) – the current political advisor of Dr Waheed – who failed to secure a winning margin in both parliamentary and local council elections. These figures did not get elected to the parliament and only won a single seat in an island council out of more than a thousand seats contested across the country.
If Waheed had some semblance of political recognition, his party would have at least have an MP or two to sincerely count on in order to defend himself in parliament. Instead he finds himself kneeling down to those that were practically the “enemies” of the ordinary people.
Regardless of the potential turmoil inside the top office of this country, hopes for an early election lie in compromise and negotiation on all sides.
Parliament has to convene, and a constitutional amendment seems to be the only viable path out of the two options available for securing an early presidential election.
The second option is that Waheed resign on an agreed date and that Parliamentary Speaker Abdullah Shahid then take over the office as the de-facto President. This option has little or no chance of success given the fact that Waheed is steadfast in retaining his position.
Waheed’s concupiscence and appetite to remain in power has seemingly blinded him from seeing the large masses of people opposing him and his regime. A regime opponents perceive to be filled with those heavily involved in bringing down the country’s first democratically elected president.
They have been continuously trying to spin the democracy protests in the false direction by labelling protesters as being among the ‘black sheep’ of society.
This is thanks in part to their very own TV stations and the use of public broadcasting services to promote their cause. Thus, the impact of civil disobedience and mass peaceful demonstrations would have a hard time reaching the rationale of Waheed or his government.
That leaves out the option of Waheed’s voluntary resignation for the sake of the people. Personally, I firmly believe that amending the constitution, the supreme set of rules which governs the state of the Maldives, is morally wrong just to find a quick political fix when there is no legal issues surrounding it. The way I see it, the purpose of having a powerful entrenchment mechanism over a constitution is to ensure that it cannot be changed or manipulated when a certain sect of the people wishes to do so.
But with Waheed’s hesitance to resign, early elections can only happen via a constitutional amendment.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), being at the forefront of calls to hold an early election, should go to the negotiation table with President Waheed in order to engage in a diplomatic dialogue that may pave way for a possible amendment of the constitution and early elections.
No matter how unethical it may seem, politically speaking, “cutting a deal with the devil” seems to be the only way forward in the current situation for the MDP – no matter how much they may detest the option.
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