President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has launched a scathing attack on his predecessor Mohamed Nasheed, accusing him of corruption, hijacking the Majlis, destroying the judiciary, and called him “a liar lacking in any sincerity”.
Waheed made his remarks at a rally on the island of Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll on Saturday, after Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters mobbed his car calling him a “traitor.” The MDP alleges Waheed came to power on February 7 following a coup d’état carried out by mutinous elements of the police and military.
Meanwhile, local councils controlled by the MDP have refused to engage with Waheed’s administration. Several MDP councilors rejected meetings with Waheed during his tour of Haa Dhaal Atoll over the weekend.
Speaking on Hanimadhoo island before his visit to Kulhudhufushi, Waheed had appealed to local councils to engage with and support his administration in order to continue providing services to the public.
However, Kulhudhufushi Council President Ibrahim Rameez said he was “ashamed” as an elected representative to meet with an “unelected” president. Waheed was Nasheed’s Vice- President.
Moreover, Rameez claimed he could not support President Waheed as his administration had stopped all development projects in the area. In March, the Economic Ministry halted all public-private-partnership programmes claiming the legality of the contracts needed to be reviewed.
“How can Kenereege Nasheed love the people?”
In his Kulhudhufushi speech, President Waheed painted Nasheed as an authoritarian and corrupt leader who could not tolerate dissent.
“Kenereege Mohamed Nasheed won that election because I became his running mate. Today, he does not understand that,” Waheed said. Further, Nasheed had spurned all the political leaders who had backed him against Maumoon Abdul Gayoom during the 2008 election and “beat” them out of the coalition government established after the election.
Waheed said Nasheed was unable to work with the MDP leadership, forcing consecutive party presidents out of power. The MDP last week took a vote of no confidence against the party’s president Dr Ibrahim Didi and vice-president Alhan Fahmy, a motion that received 95 percent support from the party’s 73-strong national council.
“All the issues MDP faces today are because President Nasheed has hijacked the party and has not allowed young leaders to rule the party,” he said.
He went on to accuse Nasheed’s supporters of “terrorism”, and said he would bring them to justice.
“What kind of democratic party is this? This is not a type of democratic party that we know. But they think there are none more democratic than they are, they shout and scream on the streets, they set fire to and vandalise public property, what kind of democrats are these? These are not democrats. I say they are terrorists. We will not step back in giving them their rightful punishment.”
MDP supporters are alleged to have set fire to court buildings and vandalised government property throughout the Maldives on February 8 after police tear gassed and brutally beat MDP demonstrators in Malé.
“If the events of February 7 had not transpired the way they did with God’s will, we would not have a judiciary now. He had decided to destroy the judiciary then. He had decided to abolish the lower courts. Reduce numbers in the higher courts. He had sent the police a list of 60 people to be arrested,” Waheed said.
“Afterwards, he tried to beat down the courageous people who have worked for Islam and the country. He planned for a few thugs within the MDP to attack them. When they tried to attack, our beloved police force came out to stop them. But then he ordered the police not to do so. He ordered the police to leave, and tried to get the military to intervene. He tried to do all of these things, and all his plans exploded in his hands. At that point, he did not know what to do, he knew the people were not with him, he knew there was no longer a police or military officer who would obey him any longer, so he resigned and went home,” Waheed continued.
“Then, he did not think all the people who he’d made promises to, made companies for, given resorts to would lose everything. He thought of that only 24 hours later. He understood after 24 hours had passed. He understood and woke up, and said ‘I have lost everything. This should not happen like this.’ And then all these people he’d made promises to came to see him. Asked ‘Where is the island you gave me? Where is that company you made me? What have you done?’”
“So he had to make up an excuse. Make up some sort of story. So at that point, he said, ‘Let me tell you, the military has established a military government, the military rule the Maldives now.’ He spread this all over the world. Told tourists they must not to go to the Maldives any longer. Nobody should go to the Maldives. There is military rule in the Maldives. He lies, he has no sincerity and now he says he wants to come back to power. Said hold an early election. He says hold an early election. What election can we have?” Waheed said.
The Commonwealth and EU have called for early elections in the Maldives within 2012 to provide legitimacy to those who govern the Maldives. However, Waheed said the earliest date permitted by the constitution for elections was July 2013.
Tension has been rising between the Commonwealth and the Maldivian government after the Commonwealth warned of “stronger measures” against the country if Waheed failed to review the composition and mandate of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) to investigate the transfer of power. MPs supporting Waheed have submitted a bill to Majlis to preemptively withdraw from the Commonwealth.
Engagement with councils
During his tour of Haa Dhaal Atoll, Waheed appealed to local councils to engage with and support his administration.
Waheed said the majority of the public and majority of parliament supported his administration and that he was “saddened by the small number of people who question this government’s legitimacy and who refuse to accept this government.”
Waheed is backed by all the major political parties in the Maldives except the MDP. The coalition includes President Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhooree Party (JP), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the Adhaalath Party.
“I do not believe the Maldivian constitution allows for the existence of state institutions which do not recognize the lawful government. Some councils and councilors have to consider and accept this,” he said.
“Council members play an important role in providing services to the public. We can only provide those services if council members engage with the different institutions and ministries of the government and the president. We want to engage with everyone,” Waheed added.
However, Kulhudhushi councilor Ibrahim Rameez said Waheed’s administration had stopped all development work in the area, including the installation of water and sewerage systems, harbor development, road construction and housing projects. The development of a international port in Kulhudhufushi had also come to a halt, Rameez claimed.
“So how can we support this government?” Rameez said.
In his fiery speech, Waheed pledged to complete Kulhudhufushi road construction by the end of the year, and improve services at the regional hospital on the island.
Earlier in his tour, Waheed had told Nolhivaram and Hanimadhoo islanders that development contracts were under review, and said he would resume projects if the state budget allowed for it. However, he assured financial assistance to the elderly, single mothers and disabled persons would continue under his administration.
“Even though there has been a lot of infrastructure development, that can turn to ashes in a moment. We have seen that happen very recently. That is because good behavioral norms, unity and friendliness have deteriorated amongst us,” Waheed told Nolhivaram residents.
Hence, Waheed said he had started a civic education program to promote unity in the Maldives.
On Hirimaradhoo island Waheed said he would allocate Rf 30 million (US$1.9 million) in the 2013 state budget for development, but that the citizens must decide how to best use the funds.
“I will not lie to you. I will not make promises I cannot fulfill,” Waheed said, and promised not to discriminate based on political party affiliation.
The Addu City Council has also cut off ties with the Waheed administration. At first, the council had released a statement pledging support for Waheed on February 8.
“We hope all development projects in this city, including road development, housing, and water and sewerage, and harbor development projects will continue under your presidency,” the statement read.
However, in the evening on the same day, several police stations and court buildings were set on fire in the city. Four of the six MDP councilors and one MDP MP were arrested. The Mayor Abdulla Sodiq’s arm was broken in an attack. A few weeks later, the council said it would no longer support Waheed. Sodiq has also said all development projects in Addu city have been suspended.
“Traitor”, allege protesters
Waheed’s visits within the Maldives and in Malé have been marred by MDP protests. During his outings, Waheed is often accompanied by a heavy police force.
In his visit to Addu city in late February, several MDP supporters, including women, claimed police used tear gas and batons to subdue protests against Waheed. Amnesty International obtained testimonies from several women who said they had been beaten and released a statement condemning the MNDF for the attacks.
Video footage of the Kulhudhufushi protest show several hundred protestors carrying yellow MDP flags calling Waheed “baagee” (“traitor”). One woman shouts “Leave this island. We don’t want you here,” while another voice calls for Waheed to be hanged. Protesters also held placards calling for early elections.
Police in riot gear hold the crowd back as Waheed passes through in a Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) truck.
Since taking office, Waheed has visited Addu Atoll, Fuvamulah Atoll, Laamu Atoll, Shaviyani Atoll and Haa Dhaal Atoll.
MDP protesters mob President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s car in Kulhudhufushi on Saturday: