The developments in Maldives prompt the credible democracies of the world such as US and India to make use of the emerging space and time to firmly encourage the establishment of democratic process. From the time ex President Nasheed began misusing his leadership and he went wrong. Nascent democratic systems need nurturing particularly when a country has emerged from three decades of autocratic rule. By arresting a judges, Nasheed displayed his immaturity which was followed by number of arbitrary decisions for which confidence of parliament would have been desirable in the absence of established constitutional provisions and rules. The opposition saw this as an opportunity to mislead people that the President was as good as an autocrat who had acted unconstitutionally. This would have been right opportunity for both the big democracies e.g. US and India to help Maldives and the President from downslide.
Present President Yameen, with the help of old man Gayoom, an autocrat of 30 years and half brother of Yameen, made use of the fragile constitutional provisions and manoeuvred to position himself as an alternate President. Even some of the cabinet colleagues of Nasheed played dubious role in ousting him and establishing by old man Gayoom in the arrest of Nasheed and subsequent imprisonment which led to his disqualification for future election. Even the Indian government giving
A lot has happened since, Yameen has turned into an autocrat himself. He has silenced virtually entire opposition by either bribing or threatening. In a small nation like Maldives this is easily achieved. China, which has been making all effort towards India’s encirclement for decades, saw an opportunity to lure a pliable Head of State and a situation of chaos. Not only the Chinese made massive investments in Maldives but also used the good offices in Sri Lanka to manage the Maldivian Presidential election results.
Now, the situation seems to be somewhat uncertain. Old man Gayoom, who had supported Yameen, seems to have become disappointed with his nominee. He was forced to leave for bringing in democracy by scheduling elections and later power out of Gayoom’s favour, Nasheed has patched up his old animosity and his party has joined hands with that of Gayoom in the parliament. This is clearly ringing alarm bells for Yameen. Few months ago Nasheed paid a visit to Colombo and had made a statement that he was working towards reestablishing democratic process. The recent collaboration between the Maldivian Democratic Party and the Progressive Party of Maldives headed by Mr Maumoon Gayoom offers an opportunity to politically oppose President Yameen in the proposals that he makes to the parliament for its easy passage. Last episode in the parliament was On 26/27 March when the motion against impeachment of the speaker Abdullah Maseeh Mohamed was defeated by had walked out. A dozen legislators were evicted earlier for unruly behaviour. The speaker is close ally of President Yameen. Though the Progressive Party is represented in the government it was reported that some govt legislators were expected to vote for impeachment.
Possibly, it is time for US and India to help Maldives inrealising true parliamentary democracy. Very right suggestions have been given by the US embassy in Colombo which covers Maldives that due democratic processes must be followed, the point is if it is not being permitted then will some hard options be used by the free word to end the Maldivian Melodrama?
Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, PVSM, AVSM, NM and Bar is the former Commander in Chief Western Naval Command & former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.