Moral in the political plight of former President’s classmates, says MDP

The collapse of longstanding dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, leaders of which were classmates of former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, carried moral lessons for the Maldives, claimed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

”Today the citizens of Arab countries have stood up against their leaders – classmates of [former President] Maumoon, in fact – who were practicing dictatorship like Maumoon,” said Reeko Moosa. ”Take a look at the situation in Tunisia, take a look at the situation in Egypt, where Maumoon received his education.”

Moosa said the citizens of the Maldives should “see the moral” in the situation in these countries.

”The citizens of the Maldives should see the moral in the situation in these countries, ahead of the local council elections, and should not let Maumoon’s regime reinstate their power,” Reeko Moosa said. ”I call citizens of the Maldives to take a look at the situation in these Arab countries  as an example.”

Minivan News attempted to contact DRP MP Ahmed Nihan for a response, but he had not replied at time of press.

If the opposition won the local council elections, Moosa claimed that the situation of the Maldives was likely to become that of Tunisia and and Egypt. If the citizens wished to uphold democracy and not let a dictatorship return in the Maldives, people should vote for MDP in the local council elections, he contended.

President Mohamed Nasheed has meanwhile spoken to opposition leader in Egypt, Mohamed El Baradei.

”Egyptians would have taken note of the lessons learnt from the Maldives, in their own struggle for democracy,” Nasheed said.

The President’s Office said that during the conversation Nasheed spoke about the struggles Maldivians endured to hold the country’s first  democratic elections in 2008.

”President Nasheed said he was deeply concerned to hear that Mr El Baradei remained in detention under house arrest in the Egyptian capital, Cairo,” said the President’s Office. ”The President pointed out to Mr El Baradei that Maldivians have always loved freedom and thus Maldivians will always support those who are peacefully advocating for political freedom in Egypt.”

Tunisian revolution ripples throughout Middle East

President Mohamed Nasheed has spoken to the leader of the Tunisian opposition as ripples from the fall of its deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali spread throughout the Arab world.

Speaking to Moncef Marzouki over the phone, Nasheed expressed the hope that democracy, human rights and the rule of law would prevail.

He also condemned the use of violence against civilians during the protests, and the human rights abuses that were occurring in the country.

The government in Tunisia, previously regarded as one of the Middle East’s most stable democracies and a popular tourist destination, was overthrown after widespread protests and growing street violence eventually forced Ben Ali to flee the country on January 14 after 23 years in power.

In a surreal side note, Ben Ali’s wife reportedly retrieved US$60 million worth of gold in person from the country’s central bank before fleeing to the airport with her husband. The bank has denied the reports, leaked by French security officials.

The protests were sparked after Mohamed Bouazizi, a local fruitseller, set himself on fire when police confiscated his cart. That incident sparked a national uprising that led to almost 100 deaths in clashes with security forces, and the hasty departure of the President. The government has since issued an arrest warrant for Ben Ali in absentia.

The violence triggered a wave of regional instability, particularly in Egypt, where tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday in opposition to 29 years of strict rule by President Hosni Mubarak.

Three people were reported killed, including a policeman, while three more self-immolated in imitation of Bouazizi. Protests also erupted in Yemen, Jordan and Algeria.

Regional analysts such as Robert Fisk have observed that Tunsia was widely feted by the West for the stability of its autocracy: “If it can happen in the holiday destination Tunisia, it can happen anywhere, can’t it? The French and the Germans and the Brits, dare we mention this, always praised the dictator for being a ‘friend’ of civilised Europe, keeping a firm hand on all those Islamists,” Fisk wrote in UK newspaper The Independent.

Meanwhile, further revelations from al-Jazeera’s publication of controversial documents detailing 10 years of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process include details of a secret crackdown on Hamas, orchestrated by British Intelligence and executed by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The 2004 plans also reveal a high degree of security cooperation between Israel and Palestinian security forces, further heightening public anger in Palestine against the PA.