President reinstates cabinet, awaits parliament’s consent

President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has reinstated his cabinet ministers in a signing ceremony before Chief Judge of the Civil Court, Ali Sameer, following their mass resignation on June 29, in protest against what they claimed were the “scorched-earth politics” of the opposition-majority parliament.

The only cabinet reshuffle concerned Mahmoud Razee, former Minister for Transport, Civil Aviation and Communications, who was moved to the post of Minister of Economic Development. His former portfolio remains open.

“Cabinet decided to stick together on the issue and resign, to show they are not hell bent on the salaries and niceties of their positions and to prove they want to do good work for the country,” Nasheed claimed.

Following the reinstatement of his ministers, President Nasheed denied the week-long resignation was a publicity stunt for political gain.

“We had to make everyone aware of the gravity of the situation,” he said. “Cabinet members have been complaining about corruption in parliament for some while, [particularly] vote buying.”

“We were last week able to investigate the matter, and I expect police to pass the findings of the investigation to the Prosecutor General’s Office within the next 10 days,” he added.

The ‘new’ cabinet now requires parliamentary consent before resuming office. The President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair confirmed the government had been delaying the reinstatement until it received signs of cooperation from the main opposition party.

Zuhair acknowledged the strategy was “risky”, an observation confirmed by DRP Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, who claimed “there are definitely ministers that the DRP will not approve, and will have to leave the cabinet.”

Zuhair however noted that the wording of the procceedure according to the Constitution was different to the appointment of the heads of independent commissions.

“Parliament is only required to ‘consent or not to consent’ to the [whole] cabinet,” he explained. “Even if the opposition is factionalised, if we get 7-8 MPs on our side the motion will be carried.”

President Nasheed has met opposition party leaders alone in a meeting on Monday evening mediated by US Ambassador Patricia Butenis, including leader of the majority opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

President Nasheed today said that while Thasmeen had not explicitly agreed to cooperate in the meeting, “individual DRP MPs have called me, and said they do not wish the government and parliament to remain deadlocked.”

He said the MPs had claimed they did not wish the entire institution of parliament “to be affected by the actions of individual MPs.”

Foreign embassies and international agencies have been nervously eyeing the seemingly erratic behaviour of the country’s administration, fearing a step backward following its democratic transition.

Yesterday Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also arrived in the country, in a surprise visit on the invitation of President Nasheed to help resolve the political deadlock. He has already met with Thasmeen and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, at his residence Maafannu Aliwaage.

Thasmeen did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Photo: Umair Badeeu