President Waheed receives grand welcome on return to Malé

President Abdulla Yameen has received former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan upon his return to Malé last night amidst great fanfare.

Waheed and his wife Ilham Hussein were greeted at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport by Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and several ministers including Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb.

Speaking to the press on his arrival, Waheed said he now wished to work “for the benefit of the community.”

Yameen , Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, MPs, senior government officials and dozens of supporters welcomed Dr Waheed on his return to the capital. Speaking to the media, Yameen pledged “the highest honors and respect” to his predecessor.

When asked if Waheed will be given a government position, Yameen declined to comment, stating “this is a matter between us”.

An official motorcade escorted Waheed and Ilham to their residence.

Waheed had departed the Maldives on a private visit on November 14, days after declaring he would remain in power beyond the end of the presidential term on November 11. In a televised speech, Waheed pledged to resign on the day of the presidential run-off, scheduled for November 16.

The Ministry of Finance and Treasury approved MVR 525,000 (US$34,047) for Waheed’s month long trip.

He had contested in the annulled first round held on September 7,winning just 5.13 percent of the vote. Waheed subsequently decided to back Yameen in the following rounds.

Speaking to local media before his departure, Waheed said his return depended on the political environment in the Maldives. When Yameen won the presidential election on November 16, Waheed quickly announced that he would be returning to the Maldives.

Waheed assumed the presidency after the controversial resignation of his predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, on February 7, 2012. Nasheed has accused his deputy Waheed of engineering a coup d’état to unseat the Maldives’ first democratically elected government.

Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) played a key role in supporting and maintaining Waheed’s rule amidst two years of political turmoil.

The PPM will seek to amend the Former Presidents’ Privileges Act in order to ensure Waheed receives privileges and immunities, Yameen said. At present, the act states that a president must hold power for 30 months in order to qualify for privileges. Waheed had held the post for 21 months.

In his farewell address on November 15, Waheed defended his track record, claiming he had maintained peace and stability despite assuming the presidency at a time of “anger, unrest and economic ruin.”