Maldivian government at best an inept bystander, at worst a willing collaborator: The Hindu

In forcing the cancellation of the presidential polls a second time, the Maldives government has proved to be at best an inept bystander and at worst a willing collaborator, reads today’s editorial in Indian newspaper The Hindu.

The Waheed administration has not only prevented the Maldivian people from exercising their franchise, but also stands in direct contempt of the original Supreme Court order that required elections to be held before October 20.

Strangely, even the Court did not deem it fit to take cognisance of the blatant flouting of its order by the executive, the very arm tasked with administering the polls. It is impossible to miss the pattern: there were no major complaints of voter list tampering till the results came out on the night of September 7; the first complainant who approached the Court was a trailing candidate Qasim Ibrahim, who is a member of the powerful Judicial Services Commission.

Based on questionable evidence, the Supreme Court annulled the polls and ordered fresh elections. It also set clear guidelines, one of which related to approval of electoral rolls by the candidates. This effectively gave candidates the right to veto the polls.

President Mohamed Waheed — sworn in under controversial circumstances after Mohamed Nasheed resigned on February 7, 2012 — cannot abdicate responsibility for the Maldivian Police Service forcibly blocking Election Commission personnel from moving out poll-related material on the morning of October 19, when the elections were scheduled.

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Nasheed faces “uphill battle” if he doesn’t win in first round: The Hindu

“As campaigning for presidential elections in the Maldives came to a close ahead of Saturday’s polls, the question is if former President Mohamed Nasheed will win conclusively in the first round,” writes R.K. Radakrishnan for the Hindu.

“Mr. Nasheed, and his supporters in the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have no doubt that voters will give him the 50-per-cent-plus votes mandated in the Constitution for a victory in the first round. “I will meet you on 8th ,” he said.

The MDP organised two massive rallies in about a week to prove the point that Mr. Nasheed’s support base has only grown in the 18 months since he was ousted.

Friday’s concluding rally, in Majeedhee Magu, the main commercial street of Male, was a treat to watch. Mr. Nasheed walked the length of the street, waving to people, soliciting their votes.”

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Gayoom may contest 2013 presidential election

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, interim leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), has signalled that he may run for the presidency in 2013.

Gayoom told Indian newspaper The Hindu yesterday (December 11) that he may consider contesting in a presidential election expected in August or September next year.

“Things change very frequently. So I am keeping my options open,” Gayoom was quoted as saying. “[If I run] it won’t be out of my choice, if ever, it will be out of compulsion. Because I feel I have served the country for 30 years and I feel it is up to other people [now].”

Gayoom however insisted that he preferred not to run.

Since its formation in October 2011, the government-aligned PPM has postponed its national congress on three occasions, despite the party’s charter or regulations stipulating that a congress must be held within six months of registration.

The party held its inaugural convention in October 2011.

In October this year, local daily Haveeru reported that that the party cited “political turmoil” as the reason for the delays.

Gayoom meanwhile told The Hindu that the party’s presidential primary will take place in February after the national congress currently scheduled for January 2013.

“Asked if current President Mohamed Waheed stood a chance to be nominated by PPM as its candidate for presidency, Mr Gayoom said that this can only be decided after Dr Waheed joins the PPM,” The Hindu reported.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed – who defeated Gayoom in the 2008 presidential election with 54 percent of the vote to Gayoom’s 45 percent – said at a rally last month that he believed President Waheed will become PPM’s presidential candidate with Gayoom’s backing.

Nasheed alleged that his former vice president held secret consultations with the PPM figurehead before the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7.

“Dr Waheed has been scheming with President Maumoon for about two years, that I know of,” he said. “Sometimes in an uninhabited island in Baa Atoll, other times in Alivaage [Gayoom’s former residence]. They have been discussing and talking in different places. Anyone who thinks of carrying out a coup d’etat will know that one thing you need for it is a disloyal vice president.”

In August, Waheed told the Hindu during a visit to Sri Lanka that he was “contemplating” running for office in 2013.

“What I have said is that our administration supports the earliest date for Presidential elections allowed under the Constitution. That in my mind will be July, 2013. I am hoping that the election will be at that time,” he was quoted as saying.

In the same month, former President Gayoom publicly welcomed the prospect of Dr Waheed competing in a primary for the party’s ticket.

In May, PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer told local media that Dr Waheed could potentially become the party’s presidential candidate. Naseer however claimed earlier that Waheed would not stand for re-election.

Naseer, along with PPM parliamentary group leader and brother of its interim leader, MP Abdulla Yameen, are the only two candidates that have announced their intention to compete in the primary.

Naseer has however said that he would not compete against former President Gayoom.

Dr Waheed meanwhile is currently leader of the GIP, which has no representation in either the People’ Majlis or local councils and just 3,170 registered members, according to the latest figures from the Elections Commission (EC).

By comparison, PPM currently has 17,111 members and is the minority party in parliament. The party has also won ten out of 13 by-elections held since its inception last year.

Speaking at a PPM rally last month, Gayoom urged senior leaders of the party to be mindful of the party’s unity during their campaigns for the upcoming primary.

At a press conference in September 2011, where the formation of the PPM was announced, Gayoom refused to rule out a presidential bid, stressing that he had not made a decision and would do so “when the time comes.”

“My answer is that the time [for a primary] has not come and we’ll know when it does,” he said after being asked repeatedly by reporters if he intended to run again.

On whether his role as leader of the new party contradicted an announcement in February 2010 that he was retiring from active politics, Gayoom said he made the decision based on the assurance that the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) would function “according to certain principles.”

Gayoom left the DRP to form the PPM following an acrimonious split within the DRP and a public spat with his successor and former vice-presidential candidate, DRP Leader and MP for Baa Atoll Kendhoo Ahmed Thasmeen Ali

“At the time and even up till yesterday, I was at the most senior post of one of the largest political parties in the country,” he said. “So how can it be said that the person in the highest post of a political party is not involved in politics? Up till yesterday I was in politics. Today I am forced to create a new party because of the state of the nation and because it has become necessary to find another way for the country.”


Decoding Nasheed: The Hindu

“Eight months after the political upheaval in the Maldives that saw Mohammed Nasheed resign as President, fresh turmoil there has belied hopes that the nation would slowly settle down. Mr. Nasheed, who alleged after resigning that he was ousted in a coup, has been arrested for defying a court order,” writes an anonymous author in The Hindu today.

“Charged with detaining a judge unlawfully on January 16 while he was still in power, and ordered by the court to remain in Male for the period of the trial, the former President opted to break free of his ‘island arrest’, going off to the southern islands in the archipelago to attend political rallies.

He believes that the charges are politically motivated, designed to convict and make him ineligible to contest elections. If that is correct, he is now responsible for handing the courts a far simpler way to achieve the same objective, by convicting him on a possible charge of contempt.

Evidently, Mr. Nasheed thinks brinkmanship serves better his political objectives, especially after the Commission of National Inquiry — constituted to go into political events from January 14 to February 8 — destroyed some of his political planning by concluding there had been no coup in the Maldives.

It said the change of President was legal and constitutional, and that what happened was a ‘reaction’ to Mr. Nasheed’s own actions as President. Though he has refused to accept the conclusions of the report, he can hardly accuse the Commission of bias.

It was at his bidding that its mandate was rewritten; additionally, a Maldivian member of his choice, plus an international co-chair and two other international observers, were added to it.”

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Maldives “protagonists” seeking Indian helping hand: The Hindu

The Maldivian government and former President Mohamed Nasheed are both looking forIndia to play a greater role in helping overcome the country’s ongoing political turmoil, reports Sandeep Dikshit for The Hindu newspaper.

With the Maldives impasse showing no sign of resolution, protagonists from both sides have now approached India for a helping hand.

Some leaders of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) are already in the country and the ousted President Nasheed is expected to arrive after a fortnight for an audience with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior officials.

From the other side, Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah in a meeting with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna here on Tuesday said all parties in the Maldives welcomed Indian government’s “facilitation.”

Mr Krishna said India would be happy to help the Maldives tide over its current difficulties but in a reference to some Maldives parties going back on their word in the past, emphasised that New Delhi expected all parties, “including those supporting the government,” to contribute to its efforts to bringing about peace and stability in the Maldives.

At the same time, Mr. Krishna wanted the Maldives government to safeguard Indian commercial interests and maintain an investor friendly climate to continue attracting quality investments. Mr. Abdullah responded by assuring that the current government’s investment policy was unchanged and all existing agreements would be honoured.

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