An audio recording of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s political advisor describing him as “politically the weakest person in the Maldives” with “a lot of legitimacy issues” has been leaked on social media.
“In reality, why we are not able to fully attend internationally is because Dr Waheed is least prepared for this job,” says Dr Hassan Saeed in the recording.
Dr Saeed recently traveled to the UK to meet the Commonwealth Secretary General, the BBC, and UK Undersecretary of the FCO, Alistair Burt.
“Dr Waheed and the wife, that Topi [Ahmed Thaufeeg, Secretary General of Waheed’s Gaumee Itthihaad party] and Waheed’s secretary at the President’s Office – what I am saying is there is no one else but these four people in Dr Waheed’s team,” Dr Saeed says.
The new government was pushing for engagement with Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) because Dr Waheed’s party did not have “a single seat in parliament. Therefore we have to keep all these people.”
He expresses sympathy with the frustration Dr Waheed must have experienced during his many days under the former government, “bored in the office”.
“I wouldn’t just sit. Honestly,” Dr Saeed says. “When an educated man like him whiles the day away being like this, going on the Internet… really it is sad. This is how Waheed was. What happens when this job [the Presidency] comes all of a sudden?”
That job arrived, Dr Saeed says, with “a lot of legitimacy issues”, the involvement of “a lot of foreign partners” and “huge bilateral pressures”.
“Fifty million dollars has to be raised before the end of this month or there will be a sovereign default,” he adds.
President Waheed’s Press Secretary, Musood Imad, told Minivan News that the President’s team had spoken to Dr Hassan Saeed, who said he “had been played” and that the recording had been “taken out of context”.
The President’s Office would be releasing a statement on the matter, Imad said.
Dr Saeed was Attorney General under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration. After breaking from the MDP coalition that unseated the 30 year autocrat in 2008, Saeed’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) was vocal in its criticism of government policy, particularly a 25 year concession agreement between Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and Indian infrastructure giant GMR involving the construction of a new terminal.
The Vice President of his party, Dr Mohamed Jameel – now the Home Minister – was also a vocal critic of the government’s religious credentials, in January distributing a pamphlet entitled “President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians”.
Dr Saeed was also one the first to raise concerns about the conduct of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, in a letter to Gayoom in 2005.
‘Then second in command has now become the chief. When it happened, as circumstances would have it, he is the weakest, politically the weakest person in the Maldives is Dr Waheed. In reality, why we are not able to fully attend internationally is because Dr Waheed is least prepared for this job.
“The wife and…Dr Waheed and the wife, that Topi [Secretary General of Waheed’s Gaumee Ittihad party, Ahmed Thaufeeg] and Waheed’s secretary at President’ Office – what I am saying is there is no one else but these four people in Dr Waheed’s team.
“And this is…as circumstances would have it, there was no major role for President Waheed in the previous government. Very many days [spent] bored in the office. I wouldn’t just sit. Honestly. When an educated man like him whiles the day away being like this, going on the Internet…[few people chuckle, a voice is heard saying: ‘on Facebook’. More chuckles]..really it is sad. This is how Waheed was. What happens when this job comes all of a sudden?
“And also, when it came…a lot of legitimacy issues are there, a lot of foreign partners are also involved, bilateral pressures are so huge. 50 million dollars have to be raised before the end of this month or there will be a sovereign default. And there isn’t a single seat in parliament. Therefore we have to keep all these people…and that’s why it is being thought ideally to include MDP in the coalition [cut off].”