The Maldivian people saw “democracy being slaughtered” during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom reportedly said last night at a ‘Progressive Coalition’ campaign rally in Malé.
“During those three and a half years, things reached the point where we feared Islam could disappear from the country. It reached a state where we feared we might lose our independence,” the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader and figurehead said.
“We saw the economy devastated, ruined and fall into a deep pit. We also saw democracy being slaughtered.”
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government “hijacked” the People’s Majlis, locked the Supreme Court, detained a sitting judge, and arrested politicians “in the name of democracy” during its three years in office, Gayoom contended.
“We saw many such inhumane and undemocratic actions,” he added.
Gayoom also criticised Nasheed for resigning on February 7, 2012 halfway into his five-year presidential term.
The country has faced “more difficult, burdensome, sad and tragic events” in its history than the circumstances that led to Nasheed’s resignation, Gayoom continued, but leaders had not stepped down “for the sake of the nation and religion.”
Referring to the failed coup attempt on November 3, 1988 by Tamil mercenaries, Gayoom noted that no senior government official resigned despite threats to their lives.
“They did not go home. They stayed resolute,” he said.
Gayoom urged voters to choose pro-government candidates in the March 22 parliamentary polls to ensure that the PPM-led coalition government secures a majority of parliamentary seats, which he contended was necessary to carry out development projects and implement policies.
“The cooperation of the People’s Majlis can be assured by the Progressive Coalition securing a majority,” he said.
“The tree called MDP”
In a speech at a campaign rally in Malé last week, Nasheed contended that Gayoom had retained his influence over the judiciary when sitting judges – the vast majority of whom were appointed during Gayoom’s 30-year reign – were controversially reappointed en masse in August 2010.
Nasheed entreated voters to study the recent past of the Maldives and consider current trends, suggesting that “you certainly don’t need to be an expert to know what could happen to this country in light of that.”
“The country is being rolled back to autocratic rule. President Maumoon is taking one step after another down that path,” he said.
Gayoom’s longstanding opposition to allowing political parties in the Maldives was elucidated on page 123 of his biography, “A Man for All Islands,” Nasheed said.
“I want to ask you, are you really confused about who President Maumoon is? Are you really going to accept him today as a man of democratic principles who loves freedom? What I want to tell the people of Malé is, don’t let yourself be stung twice from the same burrow,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking at a rally in Baa Eydhafushi last night, Nasheed said the MDP’s objective was securing financial independence for local councils.
Councils should be able to generate revenue from publicly-owned land in the island as well as nearby uninhabited islands, he said, which would enable councils to undertake infrastructure projects.
“Our pledge is not having to make any more pledges. God willing, we will provide the [financial] wherewithal for you to fulfil your own pledges,” he said.
He added that the MDP was the only party pledging to reform the judiciary.
“I want to tell other candidates, and the many candidates participating in this election – this tree called MDP has not yet blossomed. It has to be watered. It is not yet time to cling to it and spread vines under its shade. We have to let this tree grow.”
“I won’t talk about this in the next election. God willing, by then our political system will have matured,” he said.