MPs passed a resolution on Wednesday preventing Israeli national airline El Al from operating scheduled flights to the Maldives until Majlis’ National Security Committee completes further investigation into the matter.
El Al had applied to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in May 2011 requesting permission to fly to the Maldives starting in December 2011.
The demand to ban Israeli flights was a key issue that united opposition parties and was used to spark protests against Nasheed’s administration in the last weeks of his presidency. Nasheed resigned from office on February 7, but later claimed he had been deposed through a coup d’état.
The opposition also called for the eviction of Indian infrastructure giant GMR, granted a contract by Nasheed’s administration to manage and develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA). Further demands included a call to condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay for her suggestion that flogging be abolished in the Maldives as a punishment for extra-marital sex, and the removal of “idolatrous” SAARC monuments from Addu City
However Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abu Bakr on Wednesday withdrew the Majlis petition against Pillay.
On April 2, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed also withdrew a resolution calling on the Majlis to prevent GMR from taking over the management of duty free shops and bonded warehouse from local businesses.
Riyaz also withdrew a resolution calling on the government to remove SAARC monuments from Addu City on the same day. Addu City Council had removed the monuments in January after a public furor.
Ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor said he was “at a total loss” since then-opposition “had picked such a fight with us over these matters.”
“They made these issues out to be a threat to national security, and now these issues have disappeared without a trace. This is just cheap and dirty politics,” Ghafoor said.
December 23 demands
Speaking to MDP supporters at a rally on Wednesday evening, Nasheed observed that the then-opposition’s rallying cries had died once they took power.
“I will always remember, at the last moment of the coup, a police man was shouting out, ‘My father built that airport at Hulhule,’ [complaining] that I had sold that airport to outsiders, that the police were there [protesting] to retake that airport,” he said.
Nasheed said his policies had been for the benefit of the ordinary citizen and “no one can take the airport away, whether it’s GMR or India or another country.”
“I want to tell that policeman and other police officers who brought about the coup, when the current administration eventually decides to allow Israel flights to land at the airport, it is for the benefit of the economy. Even though they polluted your hearts for political gain, you are now seeing all of their poems turning to mere lullabies,” he said.
The PPM, DQP, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhooree Party (JP) and Madhanee Ithihad (Civil Society Coalition) organised a well attended ‘Defend Islam’ rally on December 23 demanding that Nasheed prevent Israeli airlines from operating flights into the Maldives, remove “idolatrous” SAARC monuments and apologise for Pillay’s comments.
The ‘December 23 coalition’ accused Nasjeed of being “non- Islamic”, and said the decision to handover airport to GMR undermined Maldives’ sovereignty.
When Nasheed arrested Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012, the coalition called on the police and military not to obey Nasheed’s orders and pledged allegiance to Nasheed’s VP Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
On February 7, Nasheed publicly resigned from office after elements of the police and military staged a mutiny, and Waheed was sworn in as president on the same day.