Ousted President Mohamed Nasheed has offered to apologise to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for accusing him of masterminding the change of government, were the leader of 30 years to agree to participate in the the All Party Talks.
Gayoom this week accused Nasheed of continuously making baseless comments about him in both the local and the international community, particularly that the former President had masterminded a coup d’état on February 7.
“With such a person, I do not wish to sit down and negotiate,” Gayoom said.
In an official statement on Sunday, Nasheed argued that his allegations were based on public statements made by Gayoom and those closely affiliated with him politically, including his family members – many of whom now hold senior positions in government.
Gayoom had called for Nasheed’s government to be brought down prior to departing for Malaysia in January, a month before Nasheed resigned amid a police mutiny.
“President Gayyoom stated that it was time to bring an end to the government entrusted upon me in my capacity as President of Maldives, and that the instigation of the enterprise was already overdue,” Nasheed said.
Vice President of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer had stated on many occasions that he had personally staged and directed the coup from ‘the command centre’, noted Nasheed.
“Naseer also met with my Vice President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik (now President) prior to the coup, along with all parties affiliated with the 23rd December coalition, and implored Dr Waheed to take over the post of the President of the Republic on the sole condition that having usurped the presidency, he would refuse to resign from his post,” Nasheed said.
Naseer, in an interview given to the SBS dateline program “Mutiny in Maldives” in February, explained in English what happened from the perspective of the opposition demonstrators on February 7.
“We had a small command centre where we do all the protests. I command from the centre and give instructions to my people. On the protesters’ side, we were informing and educating the police and army through our speeches and television programs,” Naseer said at the time.
Nasheed also highlighted that statements from MPs now aligned with the government, including PPM MP Ilham Ahmed and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed, had expressed gratitude to Gayoom and his family following the toppling of Nasheed’s government.
“Subsequent to my resignation under duress on the 7thof February, Ilham Mohamed, the Honorable Member for the Gemenafushi Constituency and Vice President of the PPM, and Riyaz Rasheed, the Honorable Member for the Vilufushi Constituency, stated in an interview on the day of the coup that all thanks for the accomplishment of ‘this enterprise’, referring to the staging of the coup and overthrow of the government, were owed to President Gayoom and his family,” Nasheed said.
The former opposition parliamentarians had attested that President Gayoom’s son, Farish Maumoon, was instrumental throughout that entire night to the operation which accomplished “the enterprise”.
Nasheed also noted that Gayoom’s daughter and family members, being “part and parcel to the current coup government”, had “attained high offices within it.”
Nasheed contested that Gayoom had never denied that he had committed these actions on behalf of the political party to which he belonged, nor had he condemned any of the “aforementioned actions”.
“Nevertheless, in a predicament such as we are, and whilst the people of Maldives are overtly distressed by what has transpired after the coup, I have come to know that President Gayoom has said that he would sit with me for dialogue in the event I apologise for stating that it was he who instigated this coup,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed said he “firmly believed” that the powers of the Maldivian state were vested with the Maldivian people and should remain as such.
“Given that not for a single moment would I wish for someone unelected by the people of Maldives to entertain himself as leader to them, I believe now is the time for all parties to come forth in support of the best interest of the nation and its citizens, and as such, if President Gayoom indeed was not party to the coup, I have decided to apologise to President Gayyoom for the fact that I said he was behind this coup,” Nasheed concluded.
Nasheed also thanked facilitator of All Party Talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, for “all the efforts” exerted by him to ensure that the negotiations succeeded.
Mujuthaba last week announced that a series of “high level” discussions will be held between President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and the leaders of the largest political parties, to try and relieve growing political tension in the Maldives after the failure of talks in June.
Gayoom’s “humble refusal”
In a rally held yesterday by the PPM in Addu City, Gayoom publicly spoke vigorously condemned his successor, claiming that Nasheed had a habit of defaming him to both the local and international community.
Gayoom said that he had “humbly refused” a request from United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Patricia Butenis, to take part in the All Party Talks along with Nasheed.
He dismissed Nasheed’s claims that the controversial transfer of power was a coup d’état, but commended the acts of the mutinying police and military officials.
Following Gayoom’s statement, MDP Spokesperson MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said that it was disappointing to see Gayyoom refusing to take part in the All Party Talks.
“With the country fallen into this grave state, it is saddening to see Gayoom refusing to take part in the All Party Talks, a negotiation that is highly related to the public interest of the country,” Imthiyaz said, and called on the former President to prioritise the country before his own personal interest.
Imthiyaz said the MDP was ready to come to the negotiation table, a sentiment matched by former MP and MDP Legal affairs committee member Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail.
“I was once the President of the MDP. Nasheed was the Chairperson then. We both were harassed and tortured during Gayoom’s regime because we were opposed to his rule,” Ibra said. “But even then we were both prepared to talk to Gayoom and his government on issues that concerned the national interest,” he recalled.
Government demands “sincerity” from Nasheed
President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said he doubted the sincerity of Nasheed’s “official apology”.
“Nasheed needs to show his sincerity and his commitment to the talks. If things are to materialise from the All Party Talks, [Nasheed] needs to win back trust and support from leaders of the other political parties,” he said.
Riza claimed that several political parties had expressed concerns following the ongoing protests by the MDP, alleging that Nasheed was behind the ongoing political “violence” and that this would affect the talks.
“All the political parties have raised concerns with the government regarding the ongoing political violence in the country. Nasheed should stop taking his supporters to the street and bring an end to the ongoing violent protests in order to win back the trust and support of other political parties,” Riza suggested.
The last round of All Party Talks collapsed after parties aligned with the government presented the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with a list of 30 demands.
The list included calls that the MDP “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.
Riza said PPM council members had informed him they would come to a decision regarding Nasheed’s apology after a party council meeting, but said several were not in support of sitting down to negotiate with Nasheed.
“Some of them have said that they are not necessarily against talking to the MDP, but that it has to be someone else from the party and not Nasheed,” he added.
“The first thing on the agenda [of the talks] is to stop the ongoing political violence in the country. So there has to be peace to begin talks,” he said.