Former President Mohamed Nasheed has defended the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) coalition with former opponents warning of a slide into authoritarianism without the MDP’s recent coalition with Jumhooree Party (JP).
“A lot of people would have been arrested – including myself, they would prevent the MDP parliamentary group from increasing beyond six or seven members, and media would not be allowed to cover news freely,” Nasheed told Rajje TV’s Fala Suruhee programme last night.
Claiming there was “no hope” with President Abdulla Yameen’s government, Nasheed said there were no job opportunities for the youth, and said that the country’s economy had slowed down due to decreasing tourist arrivals.
“I sincerely believe that the best course of action for the Maldives is to pave way for [JP leader] Gasim Ibrahim to become the president in 2015,” said Nasheed.
MDP and JP officially agreed to work together in defending the constitution last month, two days after JP split off from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). The two parties accused the government of repeatedly breaching the constitution by narrowing basic rights and freedoms, and undermining independent institutions and the judiciary.
Nasheed has come under fire from supporters for the MDP’s decision to ally with key figures responsible for his ouster in February 2012.
In response, Nasheed said: “Many things have happened which we did not want to see. If we were to keep it in our hearts all the time, it would prevent us from going forward.”
The MDP/JP coalition would gain a parliamentary majority in March, he continued. The two opposition parties have now begun nightly protests calling for President Yameen’s immediate resignation.
Protesters last night held up placards which read, “Stop discrimination among citizens” and “We will not tolerate dictatorship.”
Nasheed also condemned the government’s arrest of former Defense Minister colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim last month, describing the move as an attempt to frame the minister.
“President Yameen has to back down, he cannot be allowed to frame Nazim,” he said.
Nazim was arrested on February 10 fter the police special operations officers allegedly found a pistol and an improvised explosive device during a raid on Nazim’s home in the early hours of January 18. He is now accused of plotting to overthrow the government and harming senior government officials.
“Nazim would clearly know that he would not able to change the government by keeping a pistol and three bullets under his pillow,” Nasheed said pointing to Nazim’s three year term as defense minister and longs service in the army.
The former defense minister’s legal team maintains there is no forensic evidence to implicate Nazim and has appealed the Criminals Court’s decision to detain the minister for 15 days on remand at the High Court.
Nasheed also spoke out against the government’s recent decision to take back plots of land awarded to Gasim and the Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb’s claim that Gasim owed the government US$ 100 million (MVR 1.5 billion) as rent and fines for islands.
“The state should not be able to unjustly take any businessman’s assets,” said Nasheed.
Gasim has denied the claims as well, stating at a february 16 protest: “Gasim Ibrahim does not owe them any money at all. So the tourism Minister is clearly lying.”
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