The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said the letter written by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen, which he addressed to the participants of the Maldives Donor Conference, is nothing but “the ramblings of a delusional person.”
On 28 March Thasmeen wrote a letter criticising the current government’s economic policies, saying that the country was being “consumed in destructive politics,” and the opposition was constantly “intimidated and harassed.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed Shaheed said the government had “invited DRP leaders and a number of opposition MPs” to the Donor Conference, but “none turned up.”
He said the letter was “devoid of any real substance” and was “a luke-warm attempt” to call for a ban on aid.
“We are in a democracy and we do not hide from criticism,” Dr Shaheed said. “They wrote this assuming we wouldn’t pass it on to the donors. We have passed it on to the donors to expose what kind of stuff the opposition are made of.”
Dr Shaheed said the “transition from autocracy to democracy” was not expected to be easy, and although “there is instability, we are not consumed by destruction. They wish we were consumed by destruction.”
He said the opposition was not being restrained or harassed, pointing out that this is “the only time in the history of this country that there has not been a political opponent in detention.”
“The DRP always see the law as a weapon. Now they have removed the Auditor General from his office by using the law as a weapon.”
Dr Shaheed acknowledged that the government had criticised independent commissions such as the Human Rights Commission for the Maldives (HRCM), saying “they are not doing their job. And I think people have a right to tell others when they are not doing their job.”
He reiterated that the DRP is “still living with a mentality where they think nothing can be said about anybody else.”
Dr Shaheed said the opposition was “against privatisation. They have no idea what liberal means, or what the government needs. They are not listening to what the president is saying.”
On the claims of the incompetence of newly appointed members of government companies, he said the DRP is not indicating any measure to judge competency.
“There is this claim that if you are a political activist you don’t qualify for a job, but this is wrong.”
Dr Shaheed said the government was working hard to fully implement democracy in the country, and “we are the most transparent government this country has had. The most open government this country has had.”
He said that the current government chose to address issues openly in parliament, and not with violence.
“Parliament is a place, not to punch people and call them names, but to work together. The parliament is where the opposition has the road to engage.”
He added “the opposition has so many opportunities to contribute to policies. They should learn to use them.”
None of the delegates of the conference had made any reference to the DRP’s letter, he said.
“DRP is calling this government irresponsible in fiscal policies, and you have the IMF giving us a grant based on our fiscal policies. Who are [the donors] going to believe?”
Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the “DRP leader wanted delegates to know they are not happy with the government’s economic policy.”
He said the IMF had been especially supportive of the government’s economic policies, and had issued a number of statements commending the government.
“So the question was whether the delegates should believe the IMF and their reports, or whether they are to believe the opposition party leader Thasmeen…about whom there have been comments that he and his family have outstanding debts to the tune of US$100 million to the Bank of Maldives.”
Zuhair said the letter was distributed to all the delegates and no one had made any response.
He added that DRP members and the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid were invited to the opening session and “abstained from coming.”
Thasmeen told Minivan News today that as far as he knew, DRP members had been invited to the opening ceremony of the Donor Conference, but he did not attend because “as a member of Parliament, I had other engagements.”
He said the letter and dossier the DRP had produced for the delegates “was sent through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and had been distributed at the conference.
He added that since the letter was sent out, “we have been having discussions with members of some delegations, but it would not be appropriate for me to discuss what went on in the meetings.”
Thasmeen said “we value and appreciate and welcome any assistance in development, and hope [the pledges] are realised soon.”