President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has decided not to include the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in his national unity government, his advisor Ahmed ‘Topi’ Thaufeeg has told local media.
“It is too little, too late”, said President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad, adding, “[the MDP] remain a viable opposition.”
Immediately after his accession to the presidency, Waheed announced that he would leave some cabinet posts vacant for the MDP.
However, feeling President Waheed to have taken power illegally, the MDP refused these overtures.
After the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) concluded that the transfer of power on February 7 did not amount to a coup, MDP Chairman ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik attended the newly-coined ‘Leader’s Dialogue’ meeting on Sunday.
Whilst local media had reported that Moosa requested a place for the MDP in the current government, Moosa himself told Minivan News yesterday that he had only asked for clarification on the MDPs position – whether it should be considered the ruling, or the opposition party.
Responding to this argument, Masood today said: “The point here is that the MDP fails to understand is that this is not a parliamentary system, it is a presidential system.”
This constitutional problem was also included in the observations of the CNI’s international observers.
“There are tensions within the Constitution itself with a Presidential system engrafted onto a Parliamentary system which will always be problematic,” commented Sir Bruce Robertson and Professor John Packer.
MDP Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, who described some of the observers comments as “mocking a young democracy”, today said the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will discuss requesting a Supreme Court ruling on its role in the government.
“We don’t know who we are in government,” said Ghafoor.
“This is a sticky problem. The CNI’s assumptions are that the government has not changed, so it is the President’s prerogative to deliver on the MDP manifesto,” he continued.
President Waheed and his Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) joined the former coalition government, which included the MDP, the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Adhaalath Party, to win the 2008 elections.
The coalition, however, began to break up after only 21 days when the JP withdrew. The Adhaalath Party was the last part to withdraw from the coalition in September 2011.
Local media today reported the Adhaalath party as having publicly lauded Waheed’s decision.
Sun Online reported Deputy Leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ibrahim Shareef as saying that the MDP ought to be allowed into the government if it adapts its policies.
Ghafoor interpreted these comments as evidence that certain leaders are “jittery”: “They want to straighten this out”.
The issue of a constitution comprising elements of both presidential and parliamentary systems was discussed by Waheed his official visit to India in May.
“You know our constitution is pretty much a cut-and-paste constitution. We have elements of parliamentary system as well as presidential system,” Waheed told the diplomatic community in New Delhi.
“The presidency is very much fashioned after presidency in the United States, and the parliament functions as a parliamentary system like in the UK. So there are issues that have to be resolved around that,” he continued.
Ghafoor also drew comparisons with the US system, arguing that after the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon, his Vice-President and successor Gerald Ford did not reshuffle the executive.
Referring to the MDP’s purported requests to join the current government, Masood said, “If they are allowed to join the current government now – where is democracy?”
“We are one year away from elections where we can let the Maldivian people decide,” he added.