The Maldives government has dismissed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s call for early general elections as biased, claiming the nation is not capable of holding a free and fair vote at present.
The CMAG on Friday reiterated its call for early elections after former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the government of his successor, Mohamed Waheed Hassan, of coming to power in a “coup d’etat.”
CMAG said it strongly believed “that the earliest possible expression of the will of the people was required to establish universal faith in the legitimacy of those who govern the [Maldives].”
However, at a press conference today, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dhunya Maumoon criticised CMAG’s statement, which she alleged served to promote the interests of specific parties or individuals.
“The statement somewhat promotes the interests of a certain party or a certain individual. But I don’t want to say that exactly. Because there are many statements that are positive towards the government,” she told reporters.
The state minister added that she was “astonished” by CMAG’s continued call for early elections, calling the transfer of power to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan as “legitimate”.
Early elections in the Maldives without sufficient parliamentary-mandated reform could potentially lead to “civil war,” she said.
“We have to build a peaceful and secure atmosphere. We have to strengthen our institutions so that they are independent. Otherwise, I have no doubt that if we hold elections, the political situation of the country will deteriorate further. It is already quite divided. If there is an election, and if some people do not accept the election results, I cannot say there won’t be a civil war. I do not want to see such a thing happen in the Maldives,” she said.
Dhunya added that no other international body other than the Commonwealth has expressed concern over the current political uncertainty in the Maldives.
The EU has also raised issues over judicial reform and the exact nature of how President Waheed come to power last month.
“My hope is that the UN and other neighboring countries help the Maldives on its request. Not for them to impose their interests on us,” she added.
The government will also support the Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon, she said.
However, she conceded that CMAG’s statement wasn’t entirely “biased” against the current government’s actions, claiming it was positive about some aspects of the executive’s work.
“There are many statements that are positive towards the government, such as the initiative for all-party talks, and other statements. Also, they have expressed concern on the obstruction of parliamentary proceedings,” the state minister added.
The State Minister for Foreign Affairs comments were reportedly shared by PPM MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, who yesterday accused CMAG of favouring certain political parties in the country and failing to recognise the need for wider judicial reform as part of all-party road map talksdesigned to secure fair presidential elections.
A coalition of political parties including the PPM and DRP have boycotted the road map talks, designed to overcome the current political stalemate at present, in response to the Maldivian Democratic Party blocking a parliamentary sitting earlier this month that prevented President Mohamed Waheed Hassan from delivering his inaugural speech.
The MDP maintains that President Waheed came to power in a “coup d’etat” sponsored by opposition figures, certain business leaders and sections of the military and police force, leading to calls for early elections to settle the dispute that saw President Mohamed Nasheed “resign” from office. Nasheed later alleged he had been forced into resigning under military pressure.
Abdulla told reporters gathered at yesterday’s press conference that CMAG’s calls for early elections were unrealistic without securing further talk on amendments to the country’s constitution and judiciary – issues he said would be vital in ensuring an “appropriate environment” for elections.
“I also note that their [CMAG’s] statement is biased and that it harbours the interests of a particular individual” he was quoted as saying.
PPM members Ahmed Mahloof and Ahmed Nihan were unavailable for comment when contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press over the exact nature of the judicial and constitutional reforms called for by MP Abdulla.
Adding that the roadmap talks were designed to establish the correct preparations for any early elections, Abdulla claimed that CMAG should be issuing statements free from “predjudice” that would serve the interests of the whole nation rather than certain individuals, Haveeru reported.
Following a fact-finding mission in February and an extraordinary meeting on the situation in London, the Commonwealth suspended the Maldives from participation in CMAG and called for an internationally-assisted independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the change of government on February 7.
The Commonwealth also expressed concern about early efforts on behalf of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s new government to arrest former President Nasheed, following the issuing of an arrest warrant in the immediate days following the change of power.
In its most recent statement, CMAG expressed regret over the disruption of parliament on March 1, and “urged all parties to engage in dialogue without delay, in earnest and in good faith with a view to achieving agreement on the date of early elections, and the processes required to do so, including any necessary constitutional amendments and supporting legislation.
“The Group also noted that the Commission of National Inquiry in Maldives had commenced its investigation into the events between 14 January and 8 February 2012, but that it had not secured cross-party support.
In this context, CMAG acknowledged that international assistance for the investigative mechanism has been requested, and noted that the Commonwealth could be of potential assistance. It reiterated its strong belief in the importance of the work of the Commission and the conviction this should carry in Maldives and internationally.”