Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has circulated a video of an opposition press conference held early on January 31, following an early morning meeting between former Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and opposition leaders.
The meeting with Dr Waheed included President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran, Vice President of former President Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer, and Vice President of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef.
Nasheed and the MDP contend that his resignation following an attack by opposition protesters on the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters on Tuesday February 7 – in which element of the police and a smaller number of MNDF officers participated – was made under duress.
Dr Waheed’s government has maintained that the events of the day, including the takeover and rebranding of the state broadcaster, were spontaneous, and has praised the “sacrifices” of the security forces who participated.
“What happened (on Tuesday) was the culmination of a long process of political conflict and undermining of the judiciary,” President Waheed told foreign media during a press conference the morning after the alleged coup, which followed three weeks of 200-400 people protesting over the detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed.
“I think it is unfair for anyone to accuse me of joining the opposition. I will continue this government in the spirit of coalition,” Dr Waheed said.
In the video of the opposition press conference eight days earlier, Umar Naseer claimed that President Nasheed had pledged “not to hold elections in 2013”.
“Hence, the December 23rd Coalition, all the different stakeholders of the coalition and all the opposition political parties are calling out to the police and the army to come out and pledge allegiance to Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, and not to implement any order given by Mohmed Nasheed,” Naseer said.
The coalition of opposition parties was formed following a well-attended ‘Defend Islam’ rally on December 23. Opposition leaders at the protest had criticised Nasheed’s Islamic credentials, accusing him of “building churches”, defending the Addu City ‘idols’ (SAARC monuments) and failing to condemn United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay for her suggestion that flogging be abolished as a punishment for extra-marital sex.
“We the Coalition of 23rd December has decided that from right this moment onwards, to step up the work we have been doing until today, to move things into the second phase,” said Sheikh Imran Abdulla, President of the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, at the meeting on January 31.
“All of us in the Coalition have decided to pledge allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik,” Naseer said.
At the press conference, DRP Vice Presdient Shareef said President Nasheed was a “huge threat to Maldivians”, and had “to be stopped immediately.”
“We believe Mohamed Nasheed has no legal standing to be the President of the Maldives. He has undermined the power of the courts, and completely abolished law and order in Maldives.
“He has tarnished the sanctity of the Supreme Court of the Maldives, and by giving illegal orders to the security forces, started injuring citizens.
“So before we go to a scarier, more dangerous blood shed, we have asked the Vice President to save this nation. I would like to call upon the security forces [to accept that] since the Vice President is a person elected by Maldivians, and should the President be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President.”
Recording of the January 31 press conference:
Sheikh Imran, President of the Adhaalath Party:
In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most beneficent.
We had to meet at this late hour because the Government is acting out
of the boundaries of the constitution to destroy the judiciary and disenfranchise the citizens of the country, and because President Nasheed has indicated to us, clearly, that the 2013 elections will not be held.
(And so) we the Coalition of 23rd December has decided that from right this moment onwards, to step up the work we have been doing until today, to move things into the second phase.
The steering committee of the 23rd December Coalition has met and decided, unanimously, that we have to take things to the second phase.
(And so) we went to meet the Vice President, and having met him, we wanted to convey our decisions to the beloved citizens of the Republic of Maldives.
Hence we are meeting at this late hour. Umar will convey what we desire and the decisions we have taken.
Umar Naseer Vice President, Progressive Party of the Maldives:
Thank you very much. As you would know President Nasheed has, beyond doubt, contradicted the Constitution, and he himself has said that, he has stepped out of the chart.
And that he will not hold presidential elections in 2013.
Hence, the December 23rd Coalition, all the different stakeholders of the coalition and all the opposition political parties are calling out to the police and the army to come out and pledge allegiance to Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and not to implement any order given by Mohmed Nasheed.
And all of us in the Coalition have decided to pledge allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
So on behalf of this coalition we are calling on the security forces, to immediately pledge their allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
As you know Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was elected by a direct vote of Maldivians, and has not acted contrary to the Constitution.
But Mohamed Nasheed has contradicted the constitution, gone outside the chart and has said he will not hold elections in 2013.
Hence we cannot say that Mohamed Nasheed is the legal ruler of Maldives.
This is the decision of the Coalition.
Mohamed ‘Mavota’ Shareef, Vice President, Dhivehi Rayithunge Party:
In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful.
We had met tonight with the Vice President on behalf of the Coalition to let him know what we think.
We have let the Vice President know what our parties had decided.
As you might know President Nasheed is a huge threat to Maldivians.
If what President Nasheed is doing is not stopped immediately, like what has happened in other countries, we fear that this country might plunge into a civil conflict.
So we requested the Vice President to take over the government, and we call upon the security forces to immediately start obeying the orders of the Vice President
That is because President Nasheed is not the President of the Maldives anymore.
He could have only stayed on as President, as long as he had not contradicted the constitution and does not contradict the law. He is trying to sideline the constitution.
He is contradicting the constitution knowingly, and on purpose.
Hence, as Umar and our Sheikh Imran has already stated, and as we have repeatedly stated, Nasheed who was holding the post of President, is not the President of this country anymore.
We believe Kenereege Mohamed Nasheed has no legal standing to be the president of the Maldives.
He has undermined the power of the courts, and completely abolished law and order in Maldives.
He has tarnished the sanctity of the supreme court of the Maldives, and by giving illegal orders to the security forces, started injuring citizens.
So before we go to a scarier, more dangerous blood shed, we have asked the Vice President to save this nation.
In conclusion, I would like to call upon the security forces, (to accept that) since the Vice President is a person elected by Maldivians, and should the president be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President. (And so) we have decided that he has to start performing these duties.