“Sword of Damocles” hangs above Nasheed: European parliamentary delegation

The European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with South Asia has expressed “deep concern” at the deterioration of the situation in the Maldives.

“The European Union had deployed a team of experts to observe the first democratic Presidential elections held in the country in 2008; a sword of Damocles now hangs above the winner of these elections, with his arrest warrant already issued on unspecified grounds,” said a statement from delegation chair Jean Lambert.

“We understand a number of MPs and local councillors have also been detained or are in hospital following continued police violence,” Lambert added, further noting that several EU countries have issued travel advisories for the Maldives as “public resentment and violence are now spreading well beyond the capital.”

Urging Maldivian security forces to act according to their position and the law, the Lambert regretted that “credible signs [of establishing a National Unity Government] have yet to be witnessed.”

The situation in the Maldives has also turned up in the Australian parliament, in reference to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s own assumption of power from Kevin Rudd. Gillard’s office had prepared an acceptance speech two weeks before Rudd was deposed as leader of the party.

“While the new leader of the Maldives says he did not bring about the coup, reports have surfaced that he was involved in coup preparations that began weeks earlier,” said opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop.

“Does the foreign minister agree that the new leader should tell the full truth about his involvement in the coup?”
Rudd, who is now foreign minister and participated in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAGS)’s urgent teleconference on the Maldives’ situation, reminded parliamentarians that “much is at stake” in the Maldives.

“Those opposite seem to think that this is a trivial matter, when hundreds of people are being beaten in the streets,” the foreign minister said.

“Those opposite trivialise the fact that hundreds of people have been arrested, that hundreds of people have been subjected to violence in the streets of the capital city of Male and on top of that, that we are likely to have seen the forced removal – under threat of armed violence with guns – of a democratically elected head of state.”

Rudd said he had spoken to the former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, three nights ago and had been involved in moves to send a Commonwealth mission to Male to establish whether the coup occurred through violent means.

“If so, the necessary course of action would be suspension from the Commonwealth. We take these matters seriously,” Rudd said. “As foreign minister of Australia I do not regard them as trivial.”

In recent days the UK and Germany have also indicated that an independent investigation into the nature of the power transfer would be necessary to “consolidate [the new government’s] legitimacy.”

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs has said it remains “too early” to judge what conclusions its Heads of Missions (HoMs) will draw from their visit to the politically turbulent Maldives.

Amidst calls from member states like the UK and Germany to hold an “independent inquiry” into the circumstances that saw President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik come to power last week in an alleged “coup d’etat”, the EU said it has not reached a decision on the current government’s legitimacy.

“The EU has not taken a definitive position on the events leading to the transfer of power, so we would wait for the conclusions of the investigation,” said a spokesperson for the Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton.

“In the meantime, we look forward to the establishment of a unity government, to dialogue among all political forces and for all parties to refrain from violence.”

In an interview with AFP news agency President Waheed gave assurances that he would welcome the visit of a nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to ascertain details of the transfer of power in the country.

Several international human rights groups have nonetheless questioned the legitimacy of President Waheed’s government, which has faced widespread civil unrest and allegations of supporting violent crackdowns on members and supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) by security forces tasked with securing the public.

Yet in an interview with The Australian newspaper this week, President Waheed called for Australia to support the legitimacy of his government amidst “untrue” claims he had come to power in a “coup”. He also pledged to push ahead with attempts at further democratic reform.

EU fact finding

According to the spokesperson for High Representative Ashton, last weekend’s visit of the HoMs was planned before the presidential turnover.

“However, in the current circumstances, the main focus of the mission is to assess the situation and meet with all major political parties, civil society and key institutions,” they stated. “It is yet too early to judge what the final findings of this HoMs fact-finding mission will be.”

When asked about allegations and reports emerging from across the country about violent crackdowns by some security forces and figures posing as police in areas like Addu Atoll, the EU said it would again be awaiting findings from the Maldives’ Human Rights Commission before making any statements.

“We welcome the role of the Human Rights Commission and other mandated bodies to investigate any possible wrongdoings by the government institutions,” added the bloc spokesperson.

Amongst criticism from a number of human rights organisations regarding the nature of the change in power, the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission insists that establishing the legitimacy of the Maldives new government is not just relevant, but crucial to any resolution of the current unrest.

Commission Deputy Chair Ben Rogers said that any government hoping to be recognised as legitimate ultimately requires a people’s mandate.

“I believe Dr Waheed should hand over power to the Speaker and an interim government, and then fresh elections, with international monitors, should be held in three months,” he said. “In the meantime he should guarantee Mohamed Nasheed’s security and liberty, and the safety and freedom of other MDP members.”

US talks, IPU walks

Foreign diplomats have so far backed the plans forwarded by Waheed, who claims he is trying to form a national unity government ahead of the 2013 presidential elections.

On a visit to Male’ over the weekend, United States’ Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake encouraged the coalition of “former opposition” political parties affiliated with the new government to “work with all parties to reform and improve the capacity of the judiciary, the police and the election commission to maintain a democratic transition.

Nasheed’s supporters have rejected Waheed’s government as a legitimate ruling body and have refused to participate in its administration.

Challenged by a foreign journalist over the legality of the transition, Blake stated that America’s commitment was to the new government of the Maldives.

“The United states remains committed to working with all Maldivian people to ensure a democratic and prosperous future for this important friend of the United States,” Blake said.

However, he added that there were “some questions regarding the transfer of power” and suggested that an independent Maldivian commission be formed to investigate the issue, before arriving at conclusions.

In a more aggressive move, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a close affiliate of the United Nations, is sending an urgent mission to the Maldives to address concerns over the reported beating and detention of lawmakers.

“I am very worried about recent news alleging harassment and beatings of members of parliament and the continued detention of one of them,” said IPU President Abdulwahad Radi in a statement yesterday.

MDP Parliamentary Group yesterday released a statement categorically describing the beatings and in some cases detention of 10 MPs by security forces on capital Male’. Accompanying photos lend credibility to the claims.

Urging authorities to exercise “restraint”, Radi advised that “inclusive political dialogue” was the only solution to the current crisis. “It is essential that an atmosphere of non-violence, restraint and stability be established,” he said.

Radi further requested Maldivian officials to respect their parliament’s mandate while assuring that the IPU mission would meet with “all political actors concerned” with the country’s crisis.

The IPU, a conglomeration of 159 member countries founded in 1899, connects elected representatives from different nations and regions.


21 thoughts on ““Sword of Damocles” hangs above Nasheed: European parliamentary delegation”

  1. Dear US and EU, Dr Waheed is trying very hard to maintain rule of law and order in this country and he is trying to form a unity government with all parties, including MDP as well. He has left vacant slots in his cabinet incase MDP decided to join in. But the MDP is not at all interested to work in the best interest of this country and its ordinary citizens. They nedìver did. They always worked to fullfill admirations of MDp policies and bringing a high class life to is MDP elite class people. When they cannot get that done, they always work autocratically and spread violence, fear, vandalism and terrorism in this country. Thats all what they good and best at. They are still not willing to back down from this evil policies and have no interest in joining Dr Waheed's cabinet. They are nothing but an evil criminal terrorist party.

  2. Dear US and EU, Waheed is trying to fool you. He is not trying to bring a Unity Government at all. He knows that no one with any sense of nationalism or patriotism would join his Government when he gave the Defence Ministry and the Home Ministry to the Coup Leader Nazim and the imbecile Jameel. Then he appointed Gayoom's people to the cabinet.

    Now on the other hand if he really wanted a Unity government he would have brought it technocrats into all the Ministries. His cabinet shows his insincerity as we now also know that he stabbed his President in the back.

  3. In the coming days, we are likely to see even more of the Gayyoom family or loyalists coming into the cabinet of Waheed. It's already completely lopsided towards Gayyoom loyalists, so much so that Gayyoom's daughter, Dhunya Maumoon has started issuing threats to the international community not to "interfere" with the Maldives!

    Waheed has got a split personality. What the international community sees is not the same guy that's appointing cabinet posts and running the country! His words and actions are diametrically opposite! For example, he has not said a word regarding all the bloodshed that occurred the day after he came to power. He has muttered something about an investigation. That's not how a leader that wants national unity will react to such events.

    Waheed simply does not have the legitimacy to form a government of national unity. The only prospective candidate for that job right now is the Speaker of the Majlis. Waheed should immediately step down and hand over power to the Speaker for an interim period until free and fair elections under the watchful eye of international observers takes place.

    The Speaker should also promptly start a Truth and Reconciliation Council (along the lines of post apartheid South Africa) to resolve all outstanding issues from the past 33 years. There simply is no other way forward for this country.

  4. When you hire the Police, Army the rent a mob and take over all the media = it is a coup. The US should be ashamed of themselves. If this happened to Obama there would be World War 3 by now!

  5. How can people believe Dr Waheed is trying or has appointed a Unity government....Perhaps there is a room for outsiders like the international community could feel it's a Unity Government but all the nation-loving Maldivians agree this is a coup by the Security forces with the money of some businessmen like resort owners who are angry at the introduction of a TGST (tax) system. Those who are against the tax sytem are made Ministers in the illegal cabinet of the coup leader Waheed

  6. Thank you EU and IPU, for taking the decision to look into just exactly how the transfer of power occurred. Your visiting delegations here would see, that the majority of people in Male' and in this Country are opposed to the new Government, not because it overthrew an MDP government, but because it overthrew by means of a coup, the Government that was voted in through legitimate elections, free and fair elections, as concluded by EU observers. We will not recognize this new government as legitimate and even though supposedly large democracies like India and the USA have let down the people of Maldives and our fight for democracy, by recognizing the new government, while acknowledging that some questions on the transfer of power exist, we sincerely hope that EU and Commonwealth will stand up and assist us, a small country fighting for democracy, to bring about new elections and a legitimate and democratic government.

  7. Help us !! we are oppressed , beaten , now they are taking the freedom of speech by controlling the media , 80% of the population is not happy with this coup , HELP anyone , India take sides with the people of Maldives! PLEASE

  8. After a coup, Waheeds government invites the deposed to join them for the good of the country?


  9. Mr.waheed, did you see the facts? finally you have to step down soon... Ur awful smell conspiracy has been appeared!!!

    Now international community see the truth behind these!!

    waheed, all who did and support the coup, you will loose finally!! you can fool us anymore!!!..traitors!!!

    the truth will win...we want fresh election ASAP!!!

  10. Bring on Elections!But not until an internationaly backed independent investigation into this chaos has taken place.Because we maldivians more than any1 else need to correct any misconceptions we have before we vote in a free and fair election and give power to the deserving party.Secondly, any investigation even if EU led shud be minus the UK, whose right wing conservatives have too close a relationship with MDP to help carry out any investigation without bias.Her Majesty the Queen's PM is Nasheed's bestfriend afterall.I personally question the Uk's credibility as a democratic nation when it has a head of state 'appointed by God' holding all royal prerogative powers in hand and democracy based on loose conventions which have no force in law and can be abolished when the time is ripe again for the royals to launch attacks for world dominion again in the name of Great Britain.The supreme court is a House of Lord's consisting of hereditary peers loyal to the aristocracy and the royal family and a Consevative party whose prime aim is to re-establish british imperialism and promote the Catholic church which forgives the sins of the Queen for all the atrocities and genocide done during the days of colonization of free people across the globe.I see no difference between this and the rule of abdul gayoom who for 30 years claimed he was a democratically elected presidnt while his democracy was just about labeling institutions to create a machinery for his cronies to remain in power and maintain their wealth.Fuethermore Uk's appointee's to the EU parliament like Nirj Deva whose roots lie in Sri lanka have been meddling in internal affairs of the Maldives for too long.If the more liberal labor party who believe in democracy and equal human rights was in power it could have been considered.Thus we seek the assistance of the Greater and true democracies of the world in USA and India along with members of the EU to carry out an unbiased independent investigation and also asap carry out independent opinion polls through credible international agencies, in the country to make the citizens get a clear view of the picture rather than listening to power hungry politicians of both sides.

  11. whats wrong with unity for a while, at least 2013 elections.

    MDP should give this government a chance. I MDP has united the country and maintained stability, this would not have happened.

    The problem is that MDP wants to have the cake and it it too.

  12. The armed forces made President Nasheed resign but Waheed changed the Government. he did not have to because he should have continued with the same government and manifesto. Since this is not the Government voted in by the people of Maldives we must have elections. We are a democracy and the Government must have the mandate of the Maldivian public to rule.
    @Manik love your comments man!

  13. attaturk, good idea not to include UK. Lets also make sure that USA and India and any other foreign government that has given this new government recognition, without looking into the truth behind the transfer of power, are also not in any way involved in this investigation. Afterall, their view point would also be biased.

  14. The EU follows USA as you can see in Iran sanctions. So after EU delegates visit Maldives they will follow the US.

  15. Take a country by force, beat people up, cover up the beatings, powder coat the bruises for the international press, threaten and blackmail the local press...yup Waheed, you are a true leader who did win the peoples heart.
    Did you really think this was going to win you public admiration...lol.

  16. To the international community: New leader Dr. Waheed is not genuinely trying to form a Unity government. He is just mocking MDP and democracy by allocating MDP those ministries that wouldn't have any influential role in dealing with current situation. Ministries like Fisheries, Agriculture and gardening wouldn't do anything except mocking MDP.

  17. Why anyone would question about Wahid’s legitimacy calling himself a president. He is not elected according to constitution of Maldives instead he was replaced due to undisciplined rebellious police and military’s crime against their people and the elected president. Waheed is cunning guy taking advantage of volatile situation from the beginnings, adding fuels to fire. He is now pretending to be the most innocent and sincere who is wanting the situation to get normalized. We know he is also from this banana republic where everybody has his own interest first. He will try to take full advantage to garner public support for the election in 2013 which probably was impossible for him before. But he should know Maldives is Maldives, here you can’t gain support by proving yourself, people are brain washed to believe what they don’t see. If he really wants things to normalize he should call for election to form a government with the mandate of people.

  18. Tell Aussie FM Rudd his buddy Nasheed arrests judges,opposition leaders using the military while they are asleep at night. If only Nasheed had been reined in by Australia and UK and EU by voicing concern things would have been so different. Nasheed would still be President.
    Sad. But true. You should have the courage to criticize you friend.


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