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Maldives: President Yameen should release Nasheed Unconditionally

Paper No. 5964                         Dated 3-July-2015
By  Dr.  S. Chandrasekharan
It is time President Yameen, in the long term interest of Maldives and its survival as a democratic county releases former President Nasheed unconditionally. 
It is also time he gives up his oft repeated statement that he would consider the issue only after all the judicial precesses regarding Nasheed’s trial and conviction are gone through.  He can and he should. The Judiciary which is under his total control is not going to object even if it is technically  illegal.
It is possible  that Yameen being in full control of the military, the Police, the Judiciary and the Majlis may feel supremely confident of his position and power and may not find it necessary to be conciliatory either towards Nasheed or to the biggest party - the MDP in Maldives.  
He has allowed the judiciary to run riot.  Executive orders on how to conduct the Presidential Election were issued and the poor and straightforward Election Commissioner and his Deputy were sacked without due process of investigation.  The guide lines issued to the Human Rights Commission by the Supreme Court virtually gags the commission and is yet another example of the “power grab.”
The removal of the Chief Justice of Supreme Court with another Judge is also an example of the arbitrary and unjustified acts of the President.  The Auditor General was summarily dismissed in the same manner.
Soon, the Vice President who did not toe the line of the President will be “impeached” for his disloyalty and “incompetence.”  No investigation was made and no chance was being given to the Vice President Jameel. Enough signatures have been obtained to start the motion of impeachment for removal.  
Vice President Jameel had left for Sri Lanka with permission and moved onto London without permission.   The charges against him are flimsy and laughable.  He is supposed to have built an independent power base.  He failed to support the government on May day and is said to have failed to show progress in health and education sectors!
But to me- Jameel deserved this humiliation. The other persons in the initial drama (remember the scurrilous pamphlet against Nasheed)  which triggered the demonstrations against Nasheed and his ultimate resignation include Dr. Hassan Saeed who is said to have given up politics as also Gasim Ibrahim who is now begging to be allowed to come back to Maldives and save his business! 
But nothing could be deemed permanent in Maldives.  The Army and the Police may not continue to be loyal to Yameen.  The Majlis may split and the Judiciary having tasted power with its “over reach” may one day turn  against him.
 Already a twitter war has started between Pharees Maumoon, Gayoom’s son who had just been elected to the Majlis and the newly soon to be anointed Vice President ( Vice dictator?) Ahmed Adeeb.  
There is an ominous silence from former President Gayoom over the amendment to the constitution to enable Adeeb to be elected.  The age limit for the President and the Vice President has been fixed after the amendment to be between 30 to 65 years.  This will eliminate Gasim from contesting ( He has already thrown in the towel) and also enable Adeeb to be elected as Vice President. 
The MDP has already shown its readiness for a dialogue with the government.  It even accepted the government’s position that Nasheed will not be allowed to take part in the talks.  With over 400 of its cadres facing criminal charges all for protesting against the regime, the party which is  facing a hostile parliament, judiciary and the security forces- wants to find a way out.  It has not even placed any precondition of Nasheed’s release- as one would have expected.
The MDP’s road map is reasonable and doable from the humanitarian point of view.  Besides transferring jailed opposition leaders to house arrest from the prison, other steps include
* Talks among political parties.
* Dropping charges against opposition supporters arrested for protests.
* reinstating opposition protestors fired for attending protests 
* reviewing disciplinary action against opposition councillors.
In another note on the subject of reforming the judiciary- the points put up for discussion include the composition of the Judicial Service Commission, restraining the powers of the Supreme Court, setting a university degree as a must to qualify for the post of judgeship etc.
Above all, the MDP wants to change the Presidential system which gives undue powers to the President who tends to get autocratic to one of prime ministerial system which has more checks and balances.  
As someone has said- power does not corrupt but amplifies the person’s mind set that tends to grab power and get more and more powerful.  Maldives is one good example.  Adeeb and Yameen appear to be birds of the same feather.    Adeeb was accused of massive corruption and illicit connections with the gangs in the media.  The current home Minister made similar charges against Yameen during the elections within the PPM.
What is at stake is democracy in Maldives.  It should be remembered that nearly fifty percent of the people voted for Nasheed.  Reconciliation in national interest is possible and should be attempted.