Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan last night met with senior members of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) at his residence, Hilaaleege.
The meeting sparked a demonstration outside of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters, protesting against what they viewed as a political betrayal and calling for the VP’s resignation.
The visit by DRP MPs Ali Waheed, Ilham Ahmed, Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahlouf, as well as party Vice President Umar Naseer, was described by DRP spokesman Ibrahim Shareef as “a courtesy call.”
“They discussed national issues,” he said, but would not reveal further details of the discussion. None of the MPs who participated in the meeting had responded to calls at time of press.
“I think there are issues that of national importance facing the country, but there’s been a breakdown of communication between the government and the opposition,” Shareef suggested. “I think the VP believes the temperature is rising too much at the moment.”
Shareef described Dr Waheed as “cool headed”, and able to create “meaningful dialogue between the government and the DRP. He has no power to decide anything, but he is willing to talk,” he said.
“At the moment MDP’s leaders are not able to even talk to the opposition, and I think the President is trying to find a way forward.”
Mahloof told Minivan News today that President Mohamed Nasheed “was the person who planned the protest outside VPs house.”
However a highly placed source within the government said the president appeared “very unhappy” about the gathering, and dismissed the possibility of such peace talks as “utter tosh”.
“If that was the case other senior people in the government would know about it. I think he wants to join DRP; maybe not sign with the party, but rather use it as a bargaining chip. His intentions are clearly malevolent,” the source said, adding that the VP was also observed last week meeting Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) leader Dr Hassan Saeed.
“He is clearly angry at the dismissal of [fellow party GIP party member] former Economic Minister Mohamed Rasheed. The fact is now that the core MDP supporters are convinced that Waheed is going to run for president in 2013, and are keeping a fair degree of distance.”
The Vice President was not responding to calls today, and Minivan News understands he was not in the office because of illness.
In a previous interview with Minivan News Dr Waheed said be believed there should be “a mechanism for dialogue between the opposition and the government. There is too much polarisation. There are things, of course, we want from the opposition. We want their support to pass the bills in Parliament, and there may be things they want from the government. And that is also to address some of their own concerns. I believe we should be able to engage with all parties.”
Following the meeting the DRP MPs who attended told the press that they would lobby to give the Vice President more powers and a greater role in government.
MDP Spokesman Ahmed Haleem said that Dr Waheed initiated the meeting “because he wants to pass a bill [in parliament] giving himself more power. He thinks he is a president – I think he is totally sick. Twenty years ago he was the first PhD holder in the Maldives and he thinks he is one of the best; now the VP is very close to Nasheed but he cannot digest this.”
Haleem added that “there are a lot of people sick for power in this country – Gasim is also sick for power, but Dr Waheed is one of the best.”
MDP MP Mohamed Mustafa said he doubted Dr Waheed had the popular support to become president, and had accepted the role of Vice President “without bringing a single seat with him. He has become a liability to [MDP] – there is no reason to hold such secret meetings.”