GIP ‘not informed’ about termination of coalition agreement

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said this morning that his party had not been officially informed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s decision to tear up its coalition agreement with Waheed’s party, the Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP).

Twenty-one members of the MDP’s national council voted in favour of the move, out of 23 present. The council also called on President Mohamed Nasheed to remove all GIP members from ministerial positions. Vice President Waheed and Education Minister Dr Mustafa Luthfy are the only two GIP members remaining in Cabinet, after Nasheed dismissed Minister for Economic Development Mohamed Rasheed several weeks ago.

“We no longer trust these guys,” Haleem said. “Our coalition partner is working with the opposition – I think [Waheed] will be joining [the opposition] Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) very soon. I hope so, it would be best for him.”

Haleem added that he hoped the president would “obey” the MDP Council and remove the GIP members from government: “I hope so. MDP’s national council is one of the most powerful arms of the MDP,” Haleem said.

Dr Waheed recently raised the ire of MDP supporters when he held an apparently clandestine meeting with senior leadership of the DRP, including Umar Naseer and MPs Ali Waheed, Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahlouf.

“I think the political sitaution requires that we talk to each other and work together,” Dr Waheed told Minivan News today. “There are bills we have to get through [parliament], especially revenue bills to address the deficit. I believe it is important, and I think I am in a position to speak. I met with opposition MPs partly at their request, and I indicated I would meet them.”

He said he was surprised at the inflamed response from MDP supporters – “I did not realise this would attract so much attention from the press and MDP activists,” he said.

Dr Waheed said the reaction of both parties following the meeting was “not helpful.”

“Under the current circumstances everyone is trying to score political points,” he said.

GIP had not been formally informed of MDP’s decision last night to sever the coalition, he noted.

“If this is true then of course we are concerned. We believe we have a valid agreement to work with MDP together until the end of term.”

The removal of GIP members from government would be an “unfortunate” outcome, Dr Waheed said.

“I had expected some kind of discussion. Since we were not consulted when the Economic Development [Mohamed Rasheed] Minister was dismissed, I felt I had grounds to talk, especially since no reason given except ‘political circumstances’.”

Dr Waheed called for discussions, concluding that “we can’t go on pretending the country has no problems, because that will not solve them.”

The President has not yet said whether he will take the advice of MDP’s national council. Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair was not responding at time of press.


Comment: Speak freely, Dr Waheed

I write this letter with the passion of one who has not heard enough from the man who holds the second leading position in the government of the Maldives.

As Dr. Waheed says, “It is [high] time to get rid of that fear of speaking out.”

This is a new freedom we have as a nation that is clearly not being utilised enough.

This letter begins my own attempt to follow his example. This letter is also a plea that he continue to speak publicly, namely about the recent injustice to the Minister of Trade and Economic Development of the Maldives.

The government’s administration of injustice on Rasheed due to the call for freedom of speech led by Dr Waheed is discrimination. There was no reason given for Rasheed’s dismissal. I urge Dr Waheed to speak freely on what is going on in our government.

Dr Waheed brings up a grave concern. The gravity of the situation can clearly be seen now, as we know that even a Minister holds no safety in his position. Is this not just another autocratic government that does as it pleases with the power it holds? Who was involved in Rasheed’s firing?

Yet Dr Waheed is hopeful. He says in a recent article, “there is ‘nothing that can’t be fixed'”, as the government “is going through a learning process.”

Despite the hindrance on his job, he says, “I don’t see why we should be hiding our feelings now. We did not bring about this change to work in despair.”

In my view this is a man of courage and integrity. He is clearly working for the people. He speaks his mind and faces in the process public scrutiny and even ridicule. In my opinion, he needs to do more of this. If the government is not hearing your advice, tell it to us, the public. Continue the open line of communication you have started by beginning to voice your concerns.

If you are for the people, Allah’s power is with you. We did witness a miracle when we elected our current government into power, but the abuse of power can never reign without the intervention of Allah’s force. Dr. Waheed has not responded publicly to Rasheed’s loss at the hands of the government.

Please do not be silent for the sake of avoiding confrontation. Sometimes, difficult things need to be voiced, as you have suggested. Anything can be said in the spirit of compassion. Allah shows us this. This must be what is meant by freedom of speech.

As far as the claim that he is angling for the presidential seat in the next election, how is this even relevant to the concerns of governance of the people now, and the obvious unrest in the current government? As a self respecting citizen, I will not buy into this line of inquiry nor comment on what I think the VP is going to do, or is trying to do.

The question we should be more concerned with revolves around the unclear governance of our nation now, the very question Dr Waheed points us towards. The tyranny of the government has gone too far. The Vice President is being left in the dark. A minister has been fired for no reason. How can the people feel safe and secure under such a government?

Power is a dangerous mechanism and can be used too easily for harm. Dr Waheed speaks the truth that it should never be in the hands of a few. This always leads to the subjugation of others, just look at the history of governance of every nation in the world.

As a side note, when a voice of governance speaks publicly in any nation, he or she is speaking in his or her role, the role that this individual was elected into, especially if s/he makes it clear that s/he is speaking from this capacity! May Dr Waheed use his power for the benefit of the people. Speak to us, for us.

Dr. Waheed played a lead role in the reconstruction of a war torn country, Afghanistan, where he led an organisation of 250 Afghans and an international staff from 20 different countries. His early biography is brief, but mentioned he came from a low income family, and we all know what a low income family in Male was like in the early 1950’s.

Regardless of how he is able to serve us as a country, in my mind, this man has earned our respect for his very impressive track record abroad. As much I am giving Dr Waheed the benefit of doubt, I also think he needs to step up, and be more vocal about policies he would implement and the injustice being conducted by the government he is a part of. If you are working for the people Dr. Waheed, be the voice that gives us the power of information. Give the power that is being taken from us, back to us, where it belongs.

We as a country cannot forget the past that we come from. This man represents that past. If we are to move forward into the future with dignity and continued growth, we have to face the suffering of our past in unity, as well as the suffering we face today though of a very different form than it was only a few years prior.

I plead our honorable president to take heed of the words of a man who should be his best, his right hand man. Having read of Dr Waheed’s accomplishments abroad, I feel eager for some of this good work at home.

May Dr. Waheed continue the process of speaking his mind that he has only just begun. I challenge him to be even more transparent. What is the point of bringing his dissatisfaction to the public if he will not continue that process through, and keep us informed as to what he feels our country needs, as well as what is happening behind the curtains of the powers that be? You have the chance Dr Waheed, to use the power of words for our benefit.

Finally, as a Maldivian woman, I have been disappointed with the slow pace of progression when it comes to women’s rights and leadership. What does it take to right a patriarchal system that finds roots in the entrenched world patriarchal culture that we still live in?

I would like the women in power to speak to these issues. I implore the women in power to do so. For such an educated man as Dr Waheed, I find myself questioning how far he would go to uphold the rights of the people in this country, so many of whom are women.

This is a very high standard that I hold him to above others of his standing because of his background and experience. The task of reconstructing our patriarchal system is one I would like to see someone with power in our government tackle. When we look at the history of subjugation of women, we see how subtle and how permeable is the assault inflicted by those that hold power.

Every major power in the world that has found great success has not been able to do so without its women empowered to hold their own on equal footing with men, and add their wisdom to the process of growth.

Women have been given positions of power in the Maldives, but we are underrepresented and so our voices cannot be heard loudly enough. As a feminist, I am extremely sensitive to the power differentials among the sexes. Perhaps the task of addressing this issue in my country is one that I as an educated woman need to begin to tackle for myself. Perhaps I need to take my own advice around using the power of words and freedom of speech, being that I have it.

What I have learned as a feminist is that we each cannot hold anyone but ourselves responsible for speaking to the suffering in our own hearts. May the might of words bring power of justice back to the people where it belongs. May this letter be a start for me, in the name of our most Merciful and Compassionate.

With Best Intentions,

Mirani Bhava

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]