President Yameen returns from trips to China and Germany

President Abdulla Yameen returned to the Maldives this morning after visits to China and Germany, president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has told local media.

President Yameen departed for China on an official state visit on June 10 to attend the 3rd China-South Asia Exposition, and the 23rd Kunming Import and Export Commodities Fair. He delivered keynote speeches at the joint opening ceremony for the two fairs.

The president reportedly traveled to Frankfurt, Germany on June 13 on a private visit. Opposition Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, who recently announced his retirement from politics, is also in Frankfurt.

The president’s office has refused to confirm the president’s visit to Frankfurt or provide any details.

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MDA MP withdraws constitutional amendment on 65-year age limit to contest for presidency

Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MP Mohamed Ismail has withdrawn an amendment to the constitution that would have barred Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim from contesting the presidency in 2018.

The move comes after Gasim met ‘Champa’ Mohamed Moosa ‘Uchchu’ and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at Moosa’s residence around 11pm last night.

The amendment proposed adding an age limit of 65 among the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates. Gasim would be 66 years of age in 2018.

“I withdrew the amendment today respecting the leaders of the ruling party’s request to remove the bill. I also thought that it would be in the best interest of the country at this time that I withdraw it,” Mohamed Ismail told Minivan News.

However, as a three quarters majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis is required to amend the constitution, the votes of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs or JPs would be needed to reach the required 63 votes.

Adeeb – also deputy leader of the PPM – has confirmed on social media that the meeting took place.

“My meeting with honorable Gasim and honorable Uchu is confidential, so no comments to what we agreed or discussed,” he tweeted.

After news of the meeting was reported by local media, a small group of protesters greeted Gasim when he emerged from the meeting. “President [Mohamed] Nasheed is in jail,” they screamed.

Gasim told reporters after the meeting that the discussion was “about the political environment.”

The JP issued a press release this morning stating that Gasim’s meeting with Champa Moosa was a meeting “between friends”.

“As the two are businessmen, discussions concerning business also took place,” the press release stated.

The JP claimed that Adeeb arrived at Champa’s residence while the meeting with Gasim was ongoing.

Gasim told Adeeb to ask President Abdulla Yameen to withdraw “politically motivated” charges against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, the JP said.

Gasim’s JP formed an alliance with MDP in February and launched nightly protests against the government’s alleged breaches of the constitution. Since former President Nasheed’s arrest, Gasim has called on Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin to withdraw charges against the opposition leader and ex-defence minister in the interests of peace and stability.

The government has since seized several properties leased to Gasim’s Villa Group for alleged agreement violations. Last week, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) gave a 30-day notice to Villa Group to pay US$100 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines.

Moreover, at the first hearing of Nazim’s trial last week, State Prosecutor Adam Arif said documents on a pen drive confiscated from the then-defence minister’s apartment showed he was planning individual and joint operations, financed by the Villa Group, to cause bodily harm to “senior honourable state officials.”

Despite the JP’s claims to the contrary, local media reported last night – citing confidential sources – that Gasim asked Adeeb to withdraw the constitutional amendment and the pair discussed MIRA’s 30-day notice to Villa Group.

Gasim was also criticised by opposition supporters when he failed to return to the Maldives as promised ahead the MDP-JP mass rally on February 27. Gasim went to Colombo to brief diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka and claimed he could not return for the rally due to an appointment the following day with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

“As in the agreement between JP and MDP, Gasim will work to free former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim,” the JP insisted in its press release.


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Villa Group ordered to pay US$100 million in 30 days

JP Leader Gasim meets Sri Lankan President Sirisena

10,000 protest in Malé, call for President Yameen’s resignation

Allegations of conspiracy with Nazim “deliberate fabrication,” says Gasim

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PPM condemns MDP’s “unlawful” resolution for handover of presidency to JP Leader Gasim

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has strongly condemned a resolution adopted by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) national council yesterday calling for Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim to assume the presidency as an interim leader.

The ruling party slammed the move as “irresponsible and cowardly” in a press statement released last night.

“At a time when the government is carrying out swift efforts to resolve the water shortage in Malé, this party believes that the [MDP resolution] is an activity planned by the MDP leadership to cause loss of the country’s peace and security as well as the unity among Maldivians at this juncture,” read the statement.

The PPM also characterised the national council decision as an “undemocratic and uncivilised” attempt to topple a legitimately elected government.

The press statement praised the efforts of President Yameen’s administration and the ministerial task force to normalise the water supply crisis in the capital and declared the party’s “full confidence” in the president.

At an emergency session yesterday, the MDP national council voted 36-2 in favour – with four abstentions – of a resolution proposed by former President Mohamed Nasheed to back Gasim as interim president.

Nasheed contended that President Yameen has failed to perform his duties, was “ruling in absentia” and criticised his response to the ongoing water supply crisis.

The government has also failed to curb gang violence, he continued, noting that a 28-year-old man being stabbed to death the previous night.

Asked about the MDP’s resolution at a press conference yesterday, President Yameen said it was up to the people to change the government.

“Handing over the government to the Jumhooree Party leader or MDP’s leader has to be done when there is a vacancy for some reason,” he said.

“I don’t pay much attention to such talk by President Nasheed.”

Yameen claimed that the MDP government sold shares from the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) to Japan’s Hitachi Plant Technology for US$16 million after buying it back for US$19 million.

Yameen said he had objected to the sale as an opposition MP at the time.

However, the Nasheed administration sold 20 percent of the company’s shares to Hitachi for US$16 million in January 2010 at US$ 305.90 per share.

In late 2008, the government bought back 24 percent of MWSC share’s from Denmark’s HOH Water Technology for US$19 million at the same share price.

Members of the MDP national council meanwhile noted that President Yameen was elected with the backing of Gasim and the JP.

After initially announcing that the party would remain neutral, the JP’s council decided to endorse Yameen three days before the second round of the presidential polls on November 16 last year. In the first round revote, Gasim had finished in third place with 23.37 percent of the vote.

However, the JP’s coalition agreement with the PPM was severed by the latter after Gasim stood for the post of parliament speaker.

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MDP calls on the government to hand power to JP leader Gasim

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called on the government to hand over power to Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim in light of recent events.

At the party’s emergency national council meeting, the council agreed to support a decree brought forward by former president Mohamed Nasheed urging the government changeover.

“The country is under a very dark cloud at the moment,” said former President Nasheed. “The president is not fulfilling presidential duties and ruling in absentia. So it is better for him to handover governance to Gasim Ibrahim.”

While presenting the decree to the members of the national council, Nasheed said that the government had failed in ensuring basic necessities for the people of the country and that President Abdulla Yameen should handover the government to Gasim since he was able to secure almost the same amount of votes in the first round of the 2013 presidential elections.

Gasim polled third twice in last year’s presidential elections – successfully requesting the first vote be annulled before again finishing behind Yameen and Nasheed in a rescheduled poll. Gasim eventually threw his support behind Yameen, forming a coalition that saw the latter win the presidency before relations soured earlier this year.

Nasheed highlighted the lack of a presidential response during the ongoing Malé water crisis saying that the president was nowhere to be seen.

As the MDP council was meeting, President Yameen briefed the public for the first time on the water crisis.

When about the MDP council decision, Yameen responded by saying that the governance of the country is handed over by the people, saying: “I do not pay much attention to such talk by Nasheed.”

“I would like to respond by saying that the shares of this country was sold to foreigners. I raised my voice against this as a member of the parliament. The question of handing governance will come when the presidential seat is empty,” said Yameen.

The former president also noted the growing insecurity amongst citizens, with an increase in gang violence, while saying that the government has done very little to curb these crimes.

“There has been 7 murders so far this year. While there has been overall 20 stabbing incidents there has also been cases of 6 people taken as hostages,” detailed Nasheed.

The early hours of this morning saw the most recent death in gang-related violence with a 28-year-old man being stabbed to death by group of men.

Police have denied any arrests related to the death although local media report that 10 men have been arrested related to the violence.

While discussing the decree before voting, MDP Rozaina Adam said that it is unclear who is really in charge of the government at the moment and that the president should step down if he is unable to fulfill his presidential duties.



Related to this story

28-year-old man stabbed to death in gang-related violence

No fall back for disaster of this magnitude: President Yameen

MDP condemns insecurity as PPM celebrates peace and order

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Nasheed questions government’s legitimacy and record as one-year anniversary looms

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) President, Mohamed Nasheed has criticised the government for failing to keep promises made when it came to power almost one year ago.

Beginning by questioning the manner by which President Abdulla Yameen came to power, the former president suggested the election coalition had faltered and investor confidence had not been restored.

While giving an interview to Raaje TV last night (November 11), Nasheed also slammed the government for its failure to respond adequately to the abduction of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan 96 days ago.

“There is no doubt that Rilwan was abducted. All the information obtained by the police and other separate investigations point to an abduction,” said Nasheed.

Recalling the much-delayed, and once-annulled presidential elections last year, Nasheed reminded viewers that yesterday’s Republican Day has traditionally seen the start of a new presidential term.

“Republican Day has always been the day when the new presidential term begins and ends,” said Nasheed. “However, President Yameen’s gave oath after the assigned date. This raises legitimacy issues with how the Government came to power.”

Last year’s Republic Day saw former President Dr Mohamed Waheed inform the nation that he would stay in power for one week beyond the constitutional end of his term in order to avoid a power vaccum after repeated delays in the poll to find his successor.

The 2013 presidential elections eventually saw the MDP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidates contesting the second round, with the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen eventually winning the election after forming a coalition with the Jumhooree Party (JP).

“Recent events have made it clear the that the coalition has failed,” said Nasheed in reference to the government’s acquisition of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Kaadedhoo Airport after the MP spoke against the government’s flagship Special Economic Zones (SEZ) bill.

Nasheed noted that the people in charge of the government right now received a very small percentage of the total votes once the votes from JP supporters were discounted.

Promises broken

Nasheed pointed out that the government made a lot of promises towards the betterment of fishermen – including a pension of MVR10,000 (US$650) which was not included in next year’s proposed budget. But the price per kilo of tuna has dropped from a healthy MVR18 during Nasheed’s government to a mere MVR6 today, he continued.

President Yameen recently announced a foreign policy shift from west to east, partly as a result of the Maldives’ failure to qualify for extended duty-free status for fish exports after non-compliance with international conventions concerning freedom of religion.

Nasheed also attacked the government’s SEZ Act, suggesting that there has been little interest shown by foreign investors even after all the necessary laws and regulations have come to place.

The SEZ act – which offers relaxed regulations and tax concessions – described by President Yameen as a landmark law that will “transform” the economy through diversification and mitigate the reliance on the tourism industry.

While speaking about the proposed 2015 annual budget, Nasheed said that like during Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s 30-year regime, the current government has included a large sum as expected earnings which would eventually lead to higher budget deficit.

“For example, expected earnings from SEZ investments is valued at MVR1.5 billion (US$ 100 million). This is ambitious and unrealistic,” explained Nasheed.

The 2015 annual budget includes MVR3.4 billion (US$220 million) as expected revenue from brand new income generating measures including acquisition fees from SEZ investments and the introduction of a green tax on tourism.

A recent MDP budget review concluded that such expectations were unrealistic after stating that even if the government were to obtain MVR1.5 billion (US$100 million) as acquisitions fees at a rate of 10 percent of the investment it suggests an investment of US$1 billion.

The single biggest investment in the country to date was the ill-fated MVR7.6 billion (US$ 500 million) deal with India’s GMR group for the development Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in 2010. A Singapore court of arbitration is currently evaluating the amount owed by the government for the wrongful termination of the deal in November 2012.

The former president described the government’ abrupt terminations of foreign investments as saddening, suggesting that it would decrease investor confidence in the nation.

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Maamigili Airport returns to international status

Villa Airport, also known as Maamigili Airport, has been upgraded to an international airport just 23 days after it was downgraded to domestic status.

Speaking to local news outlet Vnews, Managing Director of Villa Air Rilwan Shareef said that the airport was downgraded after the government pointed out some security concerns which needed to be addressed by the airport.

“We have been reinstated because we have addressed those issues,” said Shareef.

The downgrading of the airport coincided with Jumhooree Party leader and Villa Group owner Gasim Ibrahim boycotting the committee stage of President Abdulla Yameen’s ambitious special economic zones (SEZ) bill.

After saying that the law would enable the SEZ board “to sell off the entire country in the name of economic zones”, Gasim’s party subsequently issued a three-line whip to its MPs to support the bill.

President Yameen has denied any political motive in the downgrading of the airport stating that, even though Gasim is the biggest business man in the Maldives, “he will be equal before the government in upholding rules”.

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Week in review: April 13 – 19

The disposal of around 120 animals confiscated from people’s homes stole the headlines this week, amid confusion as to why the decision to destroy the animals was made, and by which institution.

As part of a joint operation conducted on Saturday (April 12), relevant government authorities instructed police to confiscate all pets suspected of having been illegally imported.

These animals were promptly destroyed by the MNDF, while the fate of the slow loris – endangered in more ways than one – remained unclear as interested adoptees continued to face financial and bureaucratic obstacles.

Bureaucratic obstacles continued to hinder President Abdulla Yameen’s attempts to place his nephew in the role of Prosecutor General as the Majlis failed to return enough votes to approve Maumoon Hameed’s nomination.

Home Minister Umar Naseer this week lamented the ‘oversized democracy inherited by the government, suggesting bureaucracy was thwarting his anti-drug camaign.

The government’s attempts to centralise control of the nation’s mosques through amendments to the Religious Unity Act met with greater successful as the president ratified the changes shortly before departing to Japan on an official state visit.

Prior to boarding the plane to Tokyo, Yameen told the press that he had been unable – and unwilling – to meet the demands of Indian company GMR for an out-of-court settlement regarding the terminated airport development deal.

It was revealed that the government will now await the outcome of the arbitration proceedings, expected within the next two months after hearings concluded this week.

Yameen’s trip to east Asia saw the Japanese government thanked for its generous history of developmental assistance in the Maldives as well an open invitation for private investors to continue the tradition.

Back on the home front, President Yameen acknowledged that the distribution of government positions among coalition partners had generated some tension, after rumblings of discontent from coalition leader Gasim Ibrahim.

No such discontent was found in a survey conducted by the Tourism Ministry this month which found 98 percent of tourists would recommend the Maldives as a holiday destination.

Eighty percent of those surveyed reported having holidayed within an hour of the capital Malé, a trend Addu City Council hopes to change with the establishment of a guest house promotion board in the country’s southernmost atoll.

The heavy concentration of tourists in Kaafu atoll brought the opposite response from Malé City Council, who passed a resolution opposing the development of Kuda Bandos – the only local picnic island available to the overcrowded capital’s residents.

Meanwhile, the Department of Heritage hopes to draw the attention of visitors to the Maldives’ cultural treasures, organising an exhibition of the country’s coral mosques as attempts to make UNESCO’s world heritage list continue.

The Ministry of Environment maintained that the country’s natural heritage can still be preserved if the world commits to a 1.5°C cap on global temperature rise, with Minister Thoriq Ibrahim pledging to increase renewable energy to 30% in the next 5 years.

Elsewhere, the High Court is now considering over a dozen election-related complaints following last month’s Majlis poll – though the arguments posited by Kaashidhoo MP Abdulla Jabir received short shrift from the Elections Commission’s lawyer.

Jabir’s Maldivian Democratic Party announced it would hold an event to mark Labour Day next month while taxi drivers failed to present a united front in protests against new regulations due to be implemented this week.

DhiFM remained steadfast in its defiance of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission – responding to criticism for posting upside down pictures by posting a similar image of the commission’s chair.

Corruption charges were pressed this week against controversial Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed, while the Anti Corruption Commission asked the state to pursue charges against a former state minister for undue expenditure on sports activities.

Minivan News also took time this week to talk discuss the future of hydroponics in the country’s agriculture as well as interviewing the Maldives’ first female DJ.

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Gasim warns government against betraying coalition, says JP sidelined from victory rally

Speaking at the Jumhooree Party (JP) parliamentary election victory rally ‘Dhivehi Rayyithunnah Saabas’ last night the party leader Gasim Ibrahim warned that failing to fulfill coalition promises would be bad.

Gasim said that he had been doing everything President Abdulla Yameen has asked of him and that he expects the ruling coalition not to betray the promises made amongst the allies.

Stating that things should not be forgotten, and that promises should be fulfilled, Gasim said any failure to do so would “result in zero”.

The JP leader noted that while his party was promised 35 percent in the government, only 29 political appointments have been allocated to them so far.

“For example, if the government is making 400 political appointments, 29 is not 35 percent of that amount. [If it is 35 percent] there would be more. But if 29 appointments is 35 percent [of political appointments] then we are content.”

“But if we consider this figure, it should definitely reach 100. If this is not the case [we have to] look in to this,” Gasim said.

Gasim argued that the JP had lost ten seats in the parliamentary elections due to some “other reasons”, the details of which he said he does not want to delve into. Otherwise, he argued, the party could have won in 25 out of the total 28 constituencies in which he competed.

Gasim has earlier said that leading figures from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) competed as independents in eight of the 28 constituencies allocated for JP under the coalition seat allocation deal. Pro-coalition Adhaalath Party – sidelined from the deal – also ran in constituencies allocated for both the PPM and JP.

Earlier this month the ruling progressive coalition led by President Yameen’s PPM held a rally to mark the parliamentary election victory, but the JP was not present at the event.

Explaining JP’s absence, Gasim said said yesterday that it was not a coalition event but a PPM event. He said no JP members were given the opportunity to speak at the rally – “not even to give words of thanks”.

He said the PPM leadership refused a request to alter the rally agenda to allow JP members to speak.

The JP backed PPM the second round of presidential election 2013 after failing to reach a deal to contest with a single candidate in the re-run of the first round. The JP backing was essential for President Abdulla Yameen’s win over Maldivian Democratic Party’s Mohamed Nasheed in the second round.

Since the coalition government was formed – with the JP promised 35 percent in the government- the two parties have faced a number of major disagreements, though both have denied claims of a rifts in the coalition.

A major poing of contention was during the budget allocation last December when President Yameen requested that the PPM decide upon the details of the budget. JP leader Gasim said his party was not consulted regarding the budget and proposed a number of amendments.

More recently, both parties decided to field separate candidates for the position of parliament speaker creating further tensions within the coalition.

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Comment: Et tu Maldives?

For those looking for a bright side in the rather anticlimactic win of the much delayed/canceled/rescheduled Maldivian Presidential elections by the anti-democratic coalition led by Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, there’s some solace that this will probably be the final episode of the overly drawn out election saga.

Had President Nasheed won, there might well have been an endless number of elections till the anomaly was rectified.

Local democrats as well as the international community was waiting in apprehension to observe what clever trick would be employed to undo the election should Nasheed win again. Thankfully, the Maldivian public had other plans and rendered the whole discussion moot. It voted in another Gayoom to power.

Kingmaker Gasim

Gasim Ibrahim – who won 23% of the votes in first round – proved to be the decisive factor.

Yameen’s last minute deal with Gasim, who had just a day earlier hobnobbed with MDP leaders and publicly announced that 60% of voters of his voters would never vote for Yameen, clinched the victory by a slim margin of merely 5374 votes.

The election so far har been ugly affair, with the anti-democratic forces pulling every stop and resorting to every dirty trick – from subverting the electoral process, getting anti-constitutional rulings from the Supreme Court, harassment of the Elections Commission, flexing muscles available in the form of the Maldives Police Service to obstruct elections, and holding the whole process to ransom by refusing to sign voter registries – and hemorrhaging millions in public funds all the while.

However to Yameen’s credit, he did win the election – at least this round of it – fair and square.

For his part, President Nasheed had some gracious words of defeat and congratulations to the winner, pledging to respect the people’s verdict and uphold the democratic process.

Reading into the results

The elections prove one thing: the Maldives electorate is yet to mature. The outcome of the election was more or less decided on November 9th, when – despite all the ugly episodes that played out in full public view – the public actually rewarded Abdulla Yameen with a slightly increased vote share.

It was clear that a large section of the public was not going to be swayed by an actual manifesto, or promises of justice, and police and judicial accountability.

President Nasheed handsomely won all the major population centers, resorts and foreign boxes. However, it is clear from the results that there is still another Maldives. A more isolated, isolationist, xenophobic and paranoid Maldives that is still susceptible to dangerous emotive politics.

It is remarkable that this victory was pulled off on the back of exaggerated anti-Nasheed rhetoric with strong Islamist and hyper-nationalist overtones, as opposed to any realistic development plans or policies.

This rhetoric was often of fantastic nature – ranging from evil Christian Westerners and Freemasons trying destroy Islamic unity in the Maldives, to Nasheed attempting to build temples for GMR staff and other such absurdities. Yet, it found resonance among a large section of the population. Voting for ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’ became the catchphrase for the anti-Nasheed voters, although it isn’t immediately clear what exactly Abdulla Yameen has ever done to protect or uphold either.

Nevertheless, the result is what it is, and in a democratic process, the public verdict is supreme.

With any luck, the newly installed government will not pursue overtly isolationist, xenophobic policies while in power. After all, the Maldives – which is dependent on imports for everything from oil to basic foodstuffs – is no North Korea.

Challenges and fears

The most immediate challenge facing Yameen Abdul Gayoom is the tanking economy which has largely been in free-fall since the February 7 2012 coup d’etat. He inherits a nation on the verge of bankruptcy and – unlike the previous Dec 23 coalition that disastrously fell apart – it will take an extended period of stability within his large coalition to pull off a sustainable recovery.

The concerns for liberals are clear. Would the extremist Islamist Adhaalath Party be put in charge of the Education ministry as speculated? Will the mullahs be oversee the curriculum for our young students? Subjects such as science and history are usually the early victims of subjecting the school syllabus to Taliban scrutiny. Pakistan has already attempted this with disastrous results. Five years of Adhaalath extravagance is sufficient time to destroy one promising generation of Maldivians.

The fear is that instead of a modern, cosmopolitan outlook necessary to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, children may be inculcated with inward looking, ignorant ideologies that the Adhaalath party favours.

The Adhaalath party controlled Ministry of Islamic Affairs of the Nasheed government attempted to ram through the Religious Unity Regulations in 2010 that would have severely curtained media freedom, given expansive powers to the clerics to censor media and publications, and would have explicitly banned the mere criticism of mullahs under the threat of five years in prison.

Liberal actors within the Nasheed government stopped that heinous piece of anti-democratic drivel from being gazetted as law, thereby preserving media freedom and basic liberties for a little longer.

Would Abdulla Yameen similarly step in to defend the public from the censorship friendly mullahs? Would he defend the free media and ordinary citizens and bloggers’ rights to challenge authority? Or would he continue in the family tradition of locking up potential troublemakers and/or making them disappear?

Would the Yameen regime continue to uphold the unwelcome precedent of extreme media hostility set by Waheed? The Waheed regime – supported by the same actors that won yesterday’s elections – routinely boycotted opposition media, explicitly denied them police support (in violation of the constitution), and have sat in silence as their journalists were attacked, pepper-sprayed and harassed in public by police and other outlaws. Raajje TV was also subject to serious arson attack that destroyed the station this year, despite receiving advance warning and requesting for police assistance.

The Maldives Press freedom index has been one of the biggest casualties since the fall of the last elected government – having reversed all the giant leaps it made under President Nasheed and returned to abysmal pre-democracy levels.

One would hope that President Yameen will channel his efforts towards rectifying the media situation. But it doesn’t seem an encouraging prospect, considering Yameen’s own party, PPM, continues to boycott media channels that it sees as being aligned with the opposition.

Yameen’s electoral victory is also a possible shot in the arm for wanton police impunity which has been on public display since the overthrow of the Nasheed government last year. Police brutality has gone unaddressed under Waheed’s regime – indeed, it has been richly rewarded with perks and promotions and flats. This is likely to continue under Yameen. As a candidate, Yameen has actively sought Police support with the promise of housing, supplies and weapons.

On the subject of the runaway judiciary, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has thrown in some kind words for the international media’s sake about how it requires reform. However, it does not seem likely that Yameen would do anything to threaten his friends in the Judiciary who ensured him multiple attempts at resurrecting his lacklustre campaign, which allowed him to eventually emerge as winner.

Finally, it remains to be seen how the MDP deals with the electoral loss. When the MDP was in government, one of the most frustrating deals was the lack of a capable or democratic opposition to hold the government accountable. The then opposition routinely failed to challenge the MDP government on corruption or policy, choosing instead to pick up far more far reaching national issues like random statues and Israeli airlines and massage parlours.

Some commentators hope that the MDP could now actively play that lacking role in the Yameen government. President Nasheed has pledged as much.

Yet, one can predict right away that the horse trading season will begin soon on the parliament floor, and quite a few MDP MP’s are likely cross the aisle looking for greener pastures. This possibility means quite simply that the MDP might have reduced effectiveness going forward as an Opposition party.

Furthermore, if MDP loses its Parliament strength – and it likely will – it further reduces chances of judicial reform or oversight from the elected Parliament.

After nearly two years of punishing instability and conflict, the Maldives and its economy desperately needs some stability and return to the rule of law. While the return of an elected government is welcome, democrats remain apprehensive of the Gayoom clan.

When slightly more than half the voting public gives a mandate to a media-hostile, blatantly anti-democratic coalition put together by a former dictator, it surely justifies this apprehension.

Furthermore, keeping together the chaotic coalition will be an interesting challenge and one that constantly threatens us with instability. For now, the coalition has been given a mandate to protect of ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’; we will see Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s final report card five years from now.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]minivannewsarchive.com

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