Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed once again spoke out publicly against the government at a Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP) rally on Saturday, where he reiterated his opinion that the government’s coalition platform, which won them the 2008 presidential elections, is not being put into practice.
Dr Waheed appeared on the new VTV programme Hoonu Gondi (Hot Seat) earlier this month, where he voiced his concerns that the government was not employing the multi-party system they based their 2008 campaign on. He also said President Mohamed Nasheed did not consult with him enough, and he did not want to be a Vice President who “slept for five years.”
The vice president told Minivan News at the time he was “not completely satisfied” with his job and felt it was time for him to speak out without being afraid. “It’s my responsibility to express my feelings,” he said.
At Saturday’s GIP rally, the vice president once again spoke out against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members who were acting as though MDP was the only party in the government, and said the Maldives would soon be “colour coded.”
According to reports, toward the end of the rally more than half the audience walked out in protest when Deputy Minister for Economic Development and GIP member, Ahmed Inaz, spoke of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, reiterated Dr Waheed was speaking as the head of a political party and not as the vice president at Saturday’s rally.
“I believe he has identified a need to strengthen his own party. New political party regulations require a party to have 3000 members, otherwise the party will be dissolved,” he said.
Zuhair added “another factor may be the local government elections in June, and he feels he needs to be seen as active. All this has nothing to do with the government.”
He noted the president and vice president “get on well at the office” and everything is running normally.
Zuhair said Dr Waheed’s comments on “colour coding” were taken out of context by the media. “I don’t believe this is correct,” he said. “The government does not favour any one party, which I believe is a compliment to the government.”
He said “the vice president accepted the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) manifesto. He is raising these problems with the government but he is part of it, so perhaps he should be more proactive in solving them.”
Zuhair added the opposition would surely try to use this to drive a wedge into the government, saying “it’s already happening.”
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef said he believes there have been “some misunderstandings between the president and vice president.”
He said he doesn’t see anything wrong with the vice president making his comments public, as he “wasn’t criticising the government.”
Shareef said many people, both in the government and general population, were “blowing it out of proportion” making many people think there is disunity in the government.
He added Dr Waheed was asked difficult questions, and “I believe the vice president has answered correctly. Everybody knows it to be the truth.”
He said the government’s problem was they were “trying to change things for the sake of change” and had “so far failed to deliver anything concrete.”
Shareef said “people’s lives are becoming very difficult”, especially for those in the civil service, and noted that even if the government could not deliver on anything concrete, people were still expecting it from them.
“It’s only been a year and a half,” he said, “but some decisions are very hasty and not thought out properly.”
Spokesperson for MDP Ahmed Haleem said he thought the vice president “wants to get more sheets for the local elections [to be held in June]” and “wants to show he is still alive.”
“Seventy-five percent of the people reject this vice president,” Haleem said, adding the Vice President’s recent comments were not injuring the image of the government or the MDP, but were injuring Dr Waheed himself.
Haleem said there is “no more coalition” in the government, since most parties withdrew from the coalition. But noted the GIP was “very supportive of us” and are supportive of democracy, too.
According to GIP’s website, the party joined the MDP to “create a platform for those individuals who wish to present new ideas, who value honest leadership that cares about the Maldivian people.”
The GIP promises to “bring new ideas on health care, education, housing and other development to better improve our country and give our citizens something we’ve never had – a truly representational government.”
As of last week, the GIP has 3,508 members according to the Elections Commission.