NEW DELHI: The waters of the Indian Ocean will remain choppy for some time, with enough signs that political crisis in the Maldives will not end soon, as the main political parties stick to their positions and India continues to act as the quiet backroom moderator.
Express spoke to the leaders of the two biggest parties in the 77-member Maldivian parliament known as Majlis, where both of them have almost equal party strength, after including allies.
Since the Tuesday resignation, Maldives has been witnessing unprecedented scenes, with the former pre s ident Mohamed Nasheed being bundled away after being caught up in a crackdown by police on a MDP rally last night.
The unrest, it appears, had been triggered by Nasheed’s statement to his supporters and foreign media person that his resignation was coerced on “gunpoint”.
There were reports that more than 50 people were injured.
The leader of the second largest party in the Maldivian parliament, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party called for an inquiry into President Nasheed’s claims, but felt that it was “not likely”. “The matter, of course, should be investigated… But, I don’t believe it is likely (that he was forced to quit at gunpoint),” said Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, president of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
“I have spoken to a lot of people around and close to him, people in the presidential office… There does not seem to be any corroboration,” he said.
Speaking to the Indian media for the first time since President Nasheed resigned, Thasmeen Ali said that Nasheed had called him half-an-hour before he made his television broadcast on Tuesday. “He told me that I will be resigning and requested me to ask the new government to ensure his physical security. I, of course, told him that I will convey this and I told Waheed,” said Thasmeen Ali, who had been the running mate with Gayoom in the 2008 presidential elections.
He said Nasheed’s government had fallen foul of the “rule of law” by refusing to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to release the arrested criminal court chief justice.
On Wednesday’s brutal crackdown, he said that “police action was required to calm down the situation”, which he said that arisen due to “criminal activity of MDP supporters”.
While media reports from Maldives mention that the criminal court has issued an arrest warrant against Nasheed, there seems to be no confirmation. “I have only seen the news reports.
Unless, I know what are the allegations, I can’t comment on its validity,” said Thasmeen Ali.
The Maldivian Democratic Party also expressed their surprise over the news of the warrant. “We are only hearing media reports.
We have no idea about it..
None of us have seen it,” said the Majlis majority leader, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of Maldivian Democratic Party.
Incidentally, the arrest of the judge by Nasheed seems to have been the turning point in the current crisis, even though opposition protests have been going on for weeks since December.
“I have always supported Nasheed and I continue to fully support him,” Solih told Express, as he was on way to another MDP rally in the capital. He expressed apprehension that the rally would be again interrupted “by gangs from other political parties”, which will lead to police action.
Solih claimed he too had received two lashes from police batons as security forces drove away the supporters.
“The best way ahead is for President Waheed to step down… for elections to be held,” he said.
He said that the political situation will be highly unstable, with both MDP and DRP being nearly “50-50” in the Majlis. “We have around 35 members of parliament, just one or two short of the absolute majority”.
When asked whether India had been too hasty in recognizing the Waheed presidency, Solih demurred, saying that he “did not want to comment”. “India a very close friend and we trust and look up to them,” he said.