“No one or party owns this land” – Maldivian public debate presidential overhaul

“I can’t believe this,” said a young man standing next to me as the whole nation watched Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically-elected President of Maldives, announced his resignation on live television – an ‘unexpected’ move that has left some ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members and its supporters disheartened and angry while the jubilant opposition continues celebrations.

Nasheed’s untimely resignation came soon after approximately 100 members of police and military forces joined the opposition-led demonstration on the streets of capital Male’, taking over the state broadcaster and culminating into what the government by late morning was calling a military coup against the administration.

In the midst of the rapid political change, the common people remain – bewildered and uncertain of the future. They are all asking one question: what will happen next?

Former Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was sworn into the presidency this afternoon. Although he has promised to uphold the ‘rule of law’ he has not yet made any clear statements on how the executive will proceed or of a strategy to reform the cabinet.

Meanwhile pressure is mounting as opposition parties are jockeying to form a national unity government that will remain in power until the presidential elections scheduled for next year. However, some members of the public are not pleased with the idea.

“Let’s see how our new president implements his ‘rule of law’. To start with he has to form his cabinet from an iththihaad [coalition] – there would be too many people making demands to be in the cabinet. Secondly, I wonder what manifesto he is going to implement. MDP’s? Well, it should be but I don’t think he will. So I guess he will be implementing a manifesto that the public never voted for. Thirdly, he needs laws passed from the Majilis [parliament] where he doesn’t have a single member,” Aishath Aniya, a civil society activist, wrote on Facebook.  She continued, “I would be surprised if his government lasts for six months.”

Ahmed Nadheem from Addu city also told Minivan News that he does not wish to see an “administration backed by the armed forces for more than six months.”

“No one or party owns this land, it is ours,” he interjected. “I want an administration truly representing the people, elected directly by the people in a vote in the next six months. An interim government backed by the military means in simple terms, you cannot go against the wish of the military. The longer this administration remains in power, the more is the likelihood of it completely dictating the terms,” he claimed.

However, for many others the issue of major concern is the threat of political instability to economic security – 70 percent of the economy indirectly relies on tourism.

A comment on Minivan News read, “My heart cries out for Maldivians. They will need a lot of soul searching to see where exactly they are steering this fragile and vulnerable nation. Continued unrest and turbulence will threaten the very life blood of the economy which is already under stress from the looming European recession. The people need to rally around a leader who would rise above party and petty politics and do what’s best for the country. ”

A 42 year-old local businessman added that the economic policies and contracts signed during nasheed’s administration can be revoked; therefore, it is important to ensure that economic progress is not compromised for political gain, he said. “An attempt by the opposition’s to take over the airport from India’s GMR group would likely set a bad precedent for the foreign investors,” he noted.

Furthermore, a tourist resort operator told Minivan News that the Maldives’ “paradise image is deteriorating” with the news of political instability spreading across the global media, ultimately putting the whole tourism sector at risk.

“First the December 23 protest, then the spa closure and now the resignation of President. These things are setting a really bad image for Maldives,” he explained.

Several comments also indicate buildup of mistrust in the country’s security forces, which played the key role in leading to president’s resignation.

A skeptical comment on Minivan News said that “along with Myanmar, Pakistan and Congo, we [Maldives] have joined the prestigious club of democratic nations where the men in uniform trump the vote of the people” while another asked, “could any president rely on them?”

However, those optimistic about the change describe this historical change as the “dawn of a new beginning” where people have got a second chance to set the country in the right direction by working “inside the chart.”

Another prophesised, “there is an end for every tyrant.”

Some have identified individual members of the former government to whom they hope to see justice served. “The corrupt MDP rulers should be prosecuted and pay for their crimes – Reeko, Razee, just to name a few, prepare for your corruption scandals to open up,” wrote one commentator.

Meanwhile, a list of 57 former government figures and senior Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members have reportedly been placed on a travel blacklist.


26 thoughts on ““No one or party owns this land” – Maldivian public debate presidential overhaul”

  1. Why am I not surprised the mention of GMR by minivannews in this article. I guess they financed you or your crony government you are still obliged to protect them.

    The new government must look at the deal and cancel if necessary. It will not have any effect on foreign investment as this deal has already alienated investors. Most foreign investors know and are not happy that this gmr deal was done underhand by cronies within the regime.

  2. What a sad state of affairs. Maldives has been put back by a generation - but again, when most of your people are uneducated, one generation more may not matter. The greed of the ruling class will continue to dominate.

  3. They dare not touch GMR. That would certainly antagonise India and I don't think India will stand idle whilst these hoodlums kick GMR out of a binding contract signed on behalf of the government of Maldives! The contract was not signed by a particular "party"; it was signed by the Maldives and future governments are bound by it. I'd love to see them tear it apart though; at least I'll get a laugh out of it.

    I hope that MDP learns a valuable lesson from this. They need serious reform. Get rid of the firebrand idiots like Reeko and Alhan. Get the technocrati and moderate voices involved in updating the party at a grass roots level. The party sill has a lot of support throughout the country. It needs to clearly lay out its fundamental principle of empowering the Maldivian individual, at every level.

    MDP lost their ways recently. They forgot the reason why they became popular. The people who joined MDP wanted to escape the serfdom imposed on ordinary Maldivians for hudreds of years by the wealthy and influential classes. MDP gave hope to the guy on the street of being able to hold his head high. They promised fairness and equality irrespective of class or island.

    MDP needs to quickly return to those core values and reformulate. A change of leadership and a cleaning of the old guard who brought disrepute to the party is essential. If this is done skillfully, the 2013 elections will be a no brainer.

  4. approx 100 police & military huh..i hope thts a typo cause there was definitely around 1000

  5. oh i hope that this new government or whatever it is tries to throw out GMR, the show would be hilarious. When they shout and make big promises to the people these opposition dimwits doesn't stop for one second to think wheather they can deliver. Well we have a traitor-in-chief leading the country now, so lets see what happen.

  6. This land most certainly belongs to us, which is all Maldivians and not just to those who bear MDP membership cards. It is surprising to see that Minivan News writes factually incorrect articles- if only "approximately 100 members of the police and the military" joined the protesters it would have been easy enough for the military and the police loyal to President Nasheed to arrest them since the military and the police number in the thousands. The fact of the matter is he lost the support of the police and the military due to straying outside the mandate given to him by the Constitution. President Nasheed ordered the military to shoot rubber bullets at the protesters on Tuesday morning (which included a large number of police), when this did not disperse the crowd, we cannot ever be sure whether he ordered the military to use real bullets on the crowds and whether it was at this point that the military decided not to follow his orders and President Nasheed had to face the ignomious reality that he had no option but to resign. What is clear is that President Nasheed resigned not because he did not want to use force against Maldivians to continue with his presidency but that he resigned because the security forces refused to follow his illegal orders any longer and he was left with no force to unleash on the Maldivian public that was opposing his unlawfulness.

  7. I have no idea what you meant by a military backed government. All governments are military backed in addition to being constitutional. This one is also constitutional.

  8. i am not member of any party but i see " Minivan is always been biased and promoting only ideology of MDP. Nasheed was forced to resign since MDP manifesto was not correct and if MDP manifesto was something that was perfect why we would Malidians want to remove Nasheed ? Be sensible of what you are writing.
    Nasheed is dictator of a dictator and he is worse than Mugabe.
    I am surprised that you have only seen 100 Policeman joined with the public but it was rather the entire police force had joined and they decided not to obey illegal order. The term " Minivan " mean independent, not aligned with any politics but the fact is the Minivan is most biased news of Maldives .

  9. Sending Simon Hawkins home and taking back the Maldivian Image from his copycat 100K logo and stupid slogan should be Dr. Waheed's first priority.
    What was Anni thinking??


  10. aaniya is an mdp activist! not a "civil society activist" as you say.

  11. I think there is on space for Minivan in this country any longer.

    If the bitterness of Nasheed's defeat leads Minivan to write such clearly biased and hate-filled articles I fear we must usher them out of this country.

    Bye bye Minivan. All you did was destroy our image abroad and create dissension among the Maldivian people.

  12. Sending home Simon Hawkins with his 100K logo and stupid slogan should be the first priority of the new president.
    What was Anni thinking??

  13. Aniya and her ilk will try to reignite the fires of their agenda.

    However I think the dust has settled and the country has returned to normalcy.

    The handful of youth and ambitious failures who were enticed by Nasheed and his allies with cash handouts and posts with big-sounding names might grumble for a few days. Yet once their puppet masters busy themselves with covering their behinds and nursing their egos then those few young Maldivians will also return to everyday concerns like finding a job and fending for themselves.

    This change will not hurt the average Maldivian but it might affect a few in the Nasheed administration who were hell bent on implementing their own agenda.

    Give it time folks. We will go back to our old ways of working for a living and discussing more than politics at every waking hour. Our youth must be directed to economic pursuits and not playacting in party councils and committees.

  14. @tsk tsk on Wed, 8th Feb 2012 9:07 AM

    "All you did was destroy our image abroad and create dissension among the Maldivian people."

    My friend, rest assured that it's not Minivan that created and continue to create dissention among the Maldivians. Maldivians are far more capable of that all by themselves.

    Maldivians have not learned how to agree to disagree. You are showing the same signs by calling for Minivan to leave the country. If there is to be a democracy here (which I doubt will happen in our lifetime), then the first thing Maldivians need to learn is the fundamental principle of agreeing to disagree and engage in debate without reaching for each others throats.

    When that happens, you can start the process of democratising the nation. The democracy experiment failed and the flickering candle light of democracy has been extinguished from these shores. Maybe, someday, that light might shine again.

  15. President Nasheed lost the right to rule the day he ordered the army to kidnap a judge.

  16. Constitution.
    Is this what the police and the government is upholding now? How can they take over a registered political party property? How come they do not need court order for arrests now?
    The cruel, old and barbaric regime is partly back in force. The corrupt Police is back with hooligans in Police force.
    One thing is clear. The people in power now wants to dismantle MDP and crush it before the next election. If this happens, the opposition will be more powerful

  17. Wonder how much trust our new HEP has in the armed forces under his command, who were "trying to protect the intersts of the nation against an individuals rights". more than 54% of the nation had VOTED for one person "NASHEED" to brng a democracy.and the armed forces were acting outside the contritution by going against the Chief commander of the forces. And who's going to take to court the police who disobeyed their commissioner?

  18. The "armed forces" comprises of our own flesh and blood, maldivian sisters and brothers...Nasheed was leading them to commit atrocities against their own people every day during the protests,Givin unlawful unconstitutional orders leading almost to death of some peaceful protesters and ordering to protect government thugs who attacked protesters..thr is no misconception among the maldivians that it was the whole police force that stood up against Nasheed and put thr life at stake fr the country and bravely lived upto thr promise and the military soon joined in...armed forces or wateva you call it, they were ordinary maldivians who stood up against nasheed knwoing fully well that they could have been killed in the process..anybody who says that maumoon or any1 bribed all of them to revolt and shed thr blood needs to visit a shrink.

  19. @ tsk tsk, you must be pleased by the current events. But if you got rid of Minivan what would you do with your day? Without doubt you are the most regular contributor of comments. I fear for you because you will face withdrawal symptoms, this could lead to a lonely early death if you don't have a forum to make comments.

    We all enjoy Minivan and the diversity that it brings. Freedom!

  20. 100 or 1000 its only a small number of forceful people controlled by a the opposition cronies.

    If a free and fair election was held today, Anni would win hands down and everyone knows it!

    People unite and demand new elections now!

  21. "Constitution.
    Is this what the police and the government is upholding now? How can they take over a registered political party property? How come they do not need court order for arrests now?"
    If this is true; we have arrived where we started from. And it is alarming!

  22. Now Mr. Nasheed can try to come to power againg, against the will of 80% Maldivians including the police, armed force, and the justice system. He may have an obligation to run a government not for the general population but for hardcore criminals, most of whom are the members of MDP. The country had experienced a 3 year gang rule.

  23. It seems that the civilian government or Waheed has no control at all and is a puppet. The Police are beating up the MPs and arresting everyone associated with MDP.
    Gayoom during his 30 years never managed to beat up and injure so many people and kill 3 people all in a few hours.

    This is a military government and no one can say anything as they continue to beat, injure and kill civilians including MPS at will. Is this what Maldivians want?
    I may not like Nasheed and his government but this is not what I want for Maldives for sure. Lets get rid of this military backed government and have fresh free and fair elections and justice for the people beaten up by the military.

  24. Aye, manik, totally agree. If you noted Waheed's comment to the international media, he clearly said, "I'll not interfere with the dealings of the Police with regard to Nasheed"!

    What does that tell you? Waheed is the commander in chief of both the Police and Army. But he has no say! This was clearly demonstrated today.

    The police and army ruthlessly bludgeoned anyone in their sights on the streets of Male. There were no considerations of the "rule of law" or a "constitution". It was pure and total brutality on a scale we've not seen in our recent history.


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