President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan told local television station Villa TV (VTV) he would resign and reinstate ousted President Mohamed Nasheed if an independent inquiry established the February 7 transfer of power was illegitimate.
Nasheed has claimed he resigned under duress and was deposed in a coup d’état. Since then, thousands of people have demonstrated throughout the Maldives questioning Dr Waheed’s legitimacy and have called for early elections.
Speaking on Dhivehi Sakhshiyyath’s (Maldivian Personality) debut program, Dr Waheed said, “If it wasn’t a legitimate transfer of power, if it was unlawful, what should happen is the former president should be reinstated. If that is established, I will resign. If not, then this is a legitimate transfer of power.”
Although Dr Waheed’s government seemed amenable to early polls upon taking office, it now appears to be increasingly resistant to the call. The government now claims constitutional amendments are necessary for an early general election.
“I have already said I am ready to hold an election within the law, within the constitution, only in the country’s interest, since a major political party is creating unrest in the city,” Dr Waheed said.
Dr Waheed has instituted a three member Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) to look into the legality and legitimacy of the transfer of presidential power. However, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has questioned the committee’s independence as the committee is chaired by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s defence minister Ismail Shafeeu.
The MDP, international bodies and NGOs have urged the inclusion of international experts in the CNI. Presidential Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the government would seek UN assistance rather than that of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth’s Ministerial Action Group had supported MDP’s call for early elections.
In his interview, Dr Waheed also aired grievances against Nasheed dating from the MDP’s founding.
“I left MDP because Nasheed’s influence in MDP was such that he refused to give responsibility to anyone who is elected within the party. It was like that from first day, and I think continues to be that way,” he said.
Dr Waheed had campaigned to be the MDP’s first president. He alleges Nasheed ran MDP as “his property” and said Nasheed’s approach “has always been to settle problems through street action, rather than political dialogue.”
As Nasheed’s vice-president, Waheed claimed he was “sidelined and isolated”.
“Nasheed decided the vice-presidency was a symbolic position,” he said.
When asked if Nasheed ever pressured for his resignation, Waheed said, “I do not think Nasheed thought it too important for me to resign. As long as I stood aside, quietly, like the furniture at President’s Office, he did not think it to be an issue.”
He called on all political parties to work together to resolve the current political crisis: “The current unrest is because we haven’t been able to work together,” he said.
Waheed also said he believed only a candidate fronted by a coalition of parties would win the next presidential election.
“I do not believe now that any one party can win a presidential election. I am almost certain that only a coalition of two or more parties will win the next election again,” he said.