#HaamaKurey & its Contentious Politics

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Mahibadhoo Council’s Vice President campaigning for #HaamaKurey – Source:Twitter

On a good day, Maldivian politics and its politicians deserve a passing glance or a laugh or two at best. However, days that require mirth to fill in the ugly patches are far and few in between, especially with the introduction of democracy to a people who were barely ready for the characteristics that it exhibits; good governance, transparency and accountability from public officials to name a few.

Where the thread of corruption runs deep in the veins of the public, one of the prime examples that attests to this fact being the resignation of the first democratically elected President, who failed to hold office and complete his term amidst a police and military backed coup d’état. Those that knew the value of what was lost that day, the resounding blow that landed on the country and its fragile hold on people’s power, wept tears of grief. Those that didn’t know any better, well, they celebrated.

Come today, the Maldivian people has seen a lot happen in the span of a few years. How incumbent President Abdulla Yameen literally twisted the arm of the Supreme Court and related institutions until he got the result that he wanted from the presidential elections held in 2013. How the Parliamentary elections unfolded in 2014, where accusations of corruption and bribery were hurled towards government aligned parties from Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the main opposition party in the country.

2014 also saw the first publication of the special audit report on Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC), where President Yameen’s most revered cabinet member, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was implicated in a US$ 6 million corruption scandal. On the very same day the report was published, the Parliament passed an amendment to the Audit Act that later saw the removal of then Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim from office.

The people also witnessed the landmark constitutional amendments that saw incumbent Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel removed from office, the whispers of the dirty deals that exchanged hands between the ruling coalition and the opposition that saw the influential Mr. Adeeb  assume the Vice Presidency position, with 70 votes in favour!

The people also saw the way the elected officials failed the country by voting in favour of an amendment to her Constitution that saw Maldives open up its doors for foreigners to own land. The fact that the main instigator of all this change, Mr. Ahmed Adeeb, is now languishing in prison after one of the shortest stints in office any vice president in Maldives has seen to date, is one that didn’t escape the people’s notice either. All of which pointed towards one fact. The corruption that ran deep in the institutions of the country that should safeguard its interests.

With his Vice President in prison, President Yameen, hard pressed to come up with reasons to send him away to jail for a long, long time came up with another special audit report on MMPRC, this time concluding that MVR 1.2 billion has been lost to the public as a result of the corrupting activities carried out with Mr. Adeeb at helm.

Since then, the President, the ruling party and its counterparts have been making one blunder after the other. The President has confessed on public podiums that his party MPs had indeed received cash from Mr. Adeeb for party activities, and no, he had not asked nor being aware of where the money had been coming from.

Just yesterday, all of this took a more “humiliating” turn. Parliament Member for Hoarafushi, Mr. Mohamed Ismail of the governing party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) admitted on the parliament floor, on live TV, that he had carried around the sack of money that every MP is guilty of benefiting from.

More evidence failure of the government and the system needed? I think not.

Extent of Corruption & Lack of Confidence in Key Institutions

One of the surveys carried out by Transparency International in 2012 saw that out of the 1,001 people in Maldives that were surveyed to capture public perception on extent of corruption in the country, an overwhelming 90% of people saw the parliament to be the “most corrupt” institution in the country.

2013, another survey conducted saw that once again, the parliament was perceived to be the most corrupt institution, which was followed closely by political parties and the judiciary – which isn’t surprising, at all.

In 2015, Transparency Maldives conducted another survey, this time to gauge public views on the future for democracy in the Maldives. Lack of confidence in key institutions which once again included the Parliament, the courts and political parties were echoed across its vividly coloured charts and graphs. The survey hinted at a cynical and disillusioned people that believed readily that politicians would lie easily to get elected.

Need there be said more? I think not.

Asset Declaration as a Constitutional Requirement

In a bid to create a semblance of transparency in the chaotic and insanely corrupt political waters that are churning in the country, an initiative that came to life just recently and has gained momentum has been the #HaamaKurey campaign, which actually calls for asset declaration of key public figures as required by the Constitution and respective laws.

According to the Auditor General’s Office website, “The Constitution of Maldives and Laws regarding JSC, ACC, EC and Prosecutor General requires the President of Maldives, Vice- President of Maldives, Cabinet Ministers, and Members of Judicial Service Commission, Members of Anti-Corruption Commission, Members of Election Commission and the Prosecutor General to declare their assets to the Auditor General.” The Auditor General’s Office has also devised an ‘Asset Declaration Form’ which is available for download on their website.

#HaamaKurey and the ugly side of party politics

“Transparency maybe the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media.” – The New Influencers by Paul Gillin

The #HaamaKurey campaign which has been targeting parliament members up till now, has drawn a lot of criticism from the main opposition party, MDP. Things got interesting and quite revealing when parliament members of MDP engaged and challenged those that were calling out for public asset declarations.

MP of B. Kendhoo, Mr. Ali Hussain was the first to publicly publish his financial statement, which put other members of the Parliament in a pickle, especially the ones that hail from the party that echoes the rhetoric that calls upon the public for engagement and always talks of the rights of the people over its government and elected officials.

The reasons put forth by senior members of the party varied from pointing out the loopholes in the current system which would serve no purpose to calling out for implementation of the income tax which would be more revealing to the public, to expressing concerns on the culture of intimidation and imprisonment of elected officials of the opposition party by the incumbent government if MPs were to declare their financial statements so publicly, all in order to create a vacuum that they can take advantage of.

Valid concerns of course, which doesn’t detract from the reason why this came to being. Why it was necessary that the people be shown a way forward out of this gigantic mess, which just seems to grow more massive by the day. It was a way for a disengaged public to demand their elected officials to show to them they have been walking on the straight and narrow, that they have been true to the terms of the oath they all took when they assumed office. It was also the way to address the areas of concern that had been identified in not one, but three surveys carried out to assess public perception on government institutions which had seen a shameful view of the People’s Majlis emerge out of it.

The Ridiculous Side of Politics

The sentiment expressed by some, that this was a way to divert attention of the public from the more grievous scandal that is the MMPRC, the extent of this thread of corruption going deeper than one would imagine, was one that is utterly ridiculous to me. I am pretty certain that I would not be the only person to hold this view. The ex-auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim disclosed that a figure close to MVR 3.5 billion has been lost to the people because of the failure of the government and its institutions, independent and otherwise that had neglected to execute their duties to the people. Admissions by the President himself, that the parliamentarians occupying the house today were on the receiving end of the money that was siphoned off, is the glaring reason why the focus on MPs is a very valid, reasonable and much wanted one.

What is worrying to me are the actions of many of those who support the sentiments of democracy actually making fun and light of an initiative that has at least given back a semblance of “power” to the people. A campaign that actually allowed the people to exercise their constitutional rights as the Constitution affords them to. A first step that was taken in the right direction after years of “enslavement” by those in office.

What I fear is that these ripples of barbed references and jokes at undermining those that are driving this campaign would gain popularity amongst the members of the public that mostly exercise the “follow the herd” mentality. That it would get its job done and make the public once again question the need for this piece of paper, which has been published after much campaigning on the part of the “twitter politicians”.

This undermining campaign of sorts, might see the public ease off the current members of the crop that makes up the Parliament, but it would make it doubly tough for MDP to follow this path once again, if it were ever to have the fortune of leading this country forward. Because while a campaign that calls for transparency from public officials that are as corrupt as ours is difficult to get across, it would be quite easy to bring down the fragile beginnings of an initiative that has just barely taken its very first steps.

What MDP should do in all honesty is to help carry the campaign forward. Use this to drive the point forward in making the government and its institutions accountable, a tough a job as it is, given that governing party holds the majority at the Parliament. What MDP’s sentiments should be is to welcome this move by making elected officials accountable, especially from their own party and lead by example, to root out corruption, to make public at large aware of their rights on elected officials as citizens, and perhaps in the long run, make this campaign one that’d reach even the highest figure of authority in public office. MDP has the numbers and the means to work with interested parties to come out with something that would address the loopholes in the current system, to push the agenda forward, to give it their best shot, which is all that we, the voting public ask from them.

Loopholes would always exist for exploitation, in any system, no matter how perfect it is deemed. There is no doubt about that. A thief would think up of a thousand ways to get his or her share from the state coffers that most public officials believe they have a right to. But what we, as a country and as the public have is the right to demand that these loopholes be addressed, that better laws and regulations be put forth which can actually do some good than bickering about the fact that this is not the most perfect way to start making public officials accountable.

Because when have we, as a country, ever put our best foot forward?

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

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Dhivehin – Always Maldivian, Forever Independent

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Official logo used in marking the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Maldives. Source: Twitter

President Abdulla Yameen’s speeches since he assumed office in 2013 has always been about issuing thinly veiled threats targeted at the public. The dissenting voices of the public of course. The public that keeps fighting against the rising tide, the insurmountable odds being stacked against them with every day that has come and gone since then. The official function and banquet to celebrate the Golden Jubilee since the independence of Maldives from the British was held just tonight. President Yameen spoke at length, delivered a speech more or less of the same caliber and tone. This time around though, there was a slight difference. The public weren’t the only ones that were targeted.

The public indeed did get an earful on the differences of opinion that has divided society so much. According to the President, all the woes that exists in society today, the social problems that seem to grow worse by the day, all of this is due to the rising voices within us for freedom, democracy, good governance, accountability & transparency. In other words, the fight for freedom has left a huge gaping hole in our society that needs to be plugged – and fast. In a nutshell, the President seems to be talking about the multi-party system of governance that Maldives saw come to light with the Maldivian Democratic Party coming into being in 2005.

If there is one thing that the current regime knows how to do, and they do it very well, it is to operate under the guise of law and do whatever it is they need to do to stifle the movement of the people, to shut down the voices of the people; the people who see through the thin veil of legitimacy that their actions are shrouded in and are not happy about it. What I believe that the President was hinting at tonight was the ultimate move to abolish the political parties that operate in the country. The new anti-terrorism bill that has been submitted to the Parliament recently hints at the ultimate weapon that would be utilized in destroying the last vestiges of the democratic movement that exists within us.

New anti-terrorism laws while needed to curb and take action against the rising extremist elements within societies are being used by despotic governments across the globe to stifle the opposing political movements within their countries. Malaysia was one country that passed such a bill recently, all under the guise of taking action against those with extremist ideologies within their country.

A closer look at the bill drafted in the Maldives, as per an article on The Diplomat reveals that certain offenses listed in the newly submitted anti-terrorism bill contains offenses that can be attributed to political activists. Offenses such as murder, causing bodily harm, damaging property, causing suspension of public services, for instance, if carried out under the guise of (1) “unduly” influencing the government, (2) creating fear, or (3) promoting “unlawful” political and religious ideologies, can be charged under terrorism and thus pose a highly worrisome threat to our already ailing democracy, if one can even call it that now.

With the parliament having become an organization that just basically rubber stamps what the government requires of them, I have no hopes of anything in contrary happening. The government will push this bill through, most likely citing the statistics that they’ve been refusing to reveal up till now, the numbers of the droves of people from our country who have fled to Syria to fight in the “global jihad” that is being waged. Once the bill goes through & becomes law, which I believe would happen before this year is through, will signal the death & destruction of every political party & ideology that exists in Maldives. Either conform to the governing party’s mentality or be ignored or perhaps worse.

Moving back to tonight’s speech, while the people got off a tad “easily” this time around, since the last time I watched the President deliver a speech it nearly burnt my ears off, President Yameen’s criticism tonight was also targeted at the international community. That’s right. The meddling international community that wants to judge whether our installed government is actually constitutional. Whether our trials are being conducted fairly, whether due process is being followed and so on and so forth. The President’s hardline stance tonight suggests that leaving the Commonwealth is a foregone conclusion, the Parliament having debated on the issue on just the 20th of this month. The President with his speech is issuing a threat at the international community at large, that he’d play hardball with any and every organization, country or agency that is willing to make this country conform to the accepted norms of democratic governance in the world. Civil societies & organizations such as Transparency Maldives that work towards educating the masses on their rights, on making their governments accountable to them? Well lets bid sayonara to them.

That brings me to the newly drafted law on freedom of expression that is yet to darken the doorways of the Parliament, which is set to criminalize four types of “expressions contrary to national interest” as per a report published on Maldives Independent. According to the article, “free expression can be restricted on the grounds of national security only if the following circumstances arise: if there is a need to protect the nation or its territory, if Maldivians or foreigners threaten national security with the use of force, and if the government’s ability to defend the nation is endangered.” The President’s whole speech tonight was more or less targeted towards just the above. Protecting our nation, territory and national security. Rhetoric that governments like ours are famous for using to thwart all forms of dissent.

While the above said laws would definitely curtail our freedom & civil liberties, it would also move towards rendering the Article 4 of the Constitution utterly and irrevocably useless. That all the powers of the State of Maldives are derived from, and remain with, the citizens. The government is smart enough not to do too much at once. Rather, they plan & strategize carefully, this “war” being waged on our freedom & liberties that are guaranteed on the piece of paper that we call our Constitution. I say a piece of paper because it becomes just that, an easily perishable piece of paper if the governing forces that be aren’t willing to protect the basic principles and tenets of the document.

So, on this day where which we are supposed to be celebrating with glee the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Maldives, where the government has spent an excess of MVR 150 million (a figure equivalent to or greater than US$ 9 million), I really wonder at what we are celebrating. As per the 2006 census, 1/3rd of the country’s population lives in the crowded capital of the country Male’. The numbers much have shot up exponentially since then, exacerbated by the expatriate employee population that resides within as well. With zero opportunities available in own islands & atolls apart from working in the tourism sector, most are forced to leave their homes and live in crowded apartments and rooms costing their entire salaries for rent. Yet, we call ourselves independent, clapping with glee when millions of MVR of taxpayers money go up in flames at every single fireworks festival that has sort of become the norm since this government took over.

So whose independence are we really celebrating? Corruption runs rampant, organizations are held hostage by those with zero integrity and our police and military lie dormant, content with a couple of badges & promotions that alleviate their difficult standards of living, albeit be it even briefly. The judiciary has become a place where injustice is dolled out at will, and the parliament, well the parliament is the place that passes every bill that is sent by the government, without so much as a thought to the consequences on the freedom, sovereignty & rights of the generations to come.

I think we would be forced to bid farewell to the freedom that we’ve enjoyed for a brief period of time. It was good while it lasted, though it might not have been perfect. Shortly will emerge the campaign by the government to make us submit or be of those that perish in the government’s greed and ambition to squeeze every bit of revenue they can from this land of ours until there’s nothing left. Let us never forget. Hitler did what he did under the guise of laws passed in his country. So will we learn the bitterness of it all, in the years to come.

Dhivehin, always Maldivian. Forever independent. Or so it goes.

#Adeeb4VP; Cause and Effect – Ripples in the Unknown

Ahmed Adeeb being sworn in as the Vice President - Source CNM

Ahmed Adeeb being sworn in as the Vice President – Source CNM

So all the talk of the town during the past month or so has come to its fruitful conclusion. A new Vice President was sworn in just yesterday, none other than Ahmed Adeeb, our former tourism minister, who practically swore that he wasn’t looking to fill in the position of the Vice President. He is the man behind the ousting of the former Auditor General Niyaz. The most corrupt youngster that we’ve seen in the Maldivian political scene in recent times. PG Leader Ahmed Nihan hails him as the man who collects “fees” from businesses to keep their party PPM (Progressive Party of Maldives) afloat. I call it blatant corruption.

I’ve got so many things I want to say about what has gone down within this week. Nothing nice, mind you. About how MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) got into bed with the devil & seemed not to care an atom’s worth of what the public’s sentiments were on the matter. I’ve ranted so much on Twitter this afternoon about this that I felt like I should just take a break from all this & let this wash over me. Like I’ve done when encountered with every disappointing facet of Maldivian politics in recent times.

For one thing, the sheer audacity of the MPs who’ve been supporting every amendment that has been proposed left & right by the governing party aka PPM has been nothing short of nauseating. The response from most MDP MPs has been that ‘this is for the common good’ or ‘you wouldn’t understand this right now’ or the mother load of excuses ‘the only thing that matters to MDP right now is freedom for President Nasheed’.

And then there’s this. The confrontational mindset which refuses to back down even when they themselves know what they are doing ain’t right. ‘Why don’t you come out to the streets & protest?’ Or ‘Why don’t you elect some other person to represent you?’ Or ‘We are your elected representatives. So let us make these decisions for you’ or so it goes. Basically, all this boils down to one simple statement. We, the elected representatives aka the upper echelon know better. You, the stupid constituents know not what you’re talking about.

There’s also this group of supporters that rally behind MDP saying this. ‘This is the result of selling off your votes for MVR 500. So why blame MDP now?’ I mean seriously? There’s shifting blame & there’s blaming the constituents for the shit that MDP has been wading through ever since they lost the 2013’s presidential election.

For whatever reason, the how’s & why’s behind President Yameen & co winning the election of 2013 is a topic that requires a separate discussion. President Nasheed opted to accept the election results when they were finally announced, wanting to lead by the democratic example. It is not even two years since President Yameen took office & so many things have gone wrong since then that one can hardly keep count.

The latest fiasco began with the transfer of President Nasheed to house arrest from prison, where he was carrying out the sentence on terrorism charges that was meshed out by the Criminal Court of Maldives. Don’t even get me started on the sheer injustice of the “trial” that was carried out. I’ve ranted about it enough, written about it on the blog itself enough for people to know that I would never believe that justice was the basis of President Nasheed’s entire trial.

The story of the “deals” that went behind the scenes is what got the people, well, people like myself at least, all riled up this time around. The deal that would see the Constitution amended to allow the Vice President & President to be a person between the ages of 30 – 65; previously the starting age being set at 35 with no capping on the other end. Rumors were afloat by then that the Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was the one who was going to come on board as the Vice President. But for this to happen, the then incumbent Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had to go. With him not in the mood to give in & resign, of course it meant that the ruling coalition had to resort to a no confidence motion at the parliament (People’s Majlis) against Dr. Jameel, which too required that MDP be on board.

With the game fully set in motion, MDP & some of its supporters & people like myself who have supported the principles upon which the party was founded upon & believed in them, well lets just say that it was inevitable that not everyone was on board with “let’s save President Nasheed at the expense of the rest of the country” plan. Couple of months back, in celebration of President Nasheed’s birthday, MDP came up with a video narration of sorts entitled Hayaatheh Jaluga, loosely translated into “A life in prison”, which when I look back upon was perhaps the foundation upon which the aforementioned campaign was based on.

President Nasheed certainly never has used his horrific experiences at the prisons during President Maumoon’s regime as a campaign tactic. So even back then, when this video first came into existence, me being the second guessing sort of person I am, questioned the move by MDP. Although I am all for people learning what President Nasheed has been through & his sacrifices for the country, I am just questioning right about everything that MDP has been doing up till now. Guess that is what inevitably happens when the trust breaks & you begin looking for problems where none exists. But I believe I am not alone in feeling this way. Betrayed & utterly & thoroughly depressed.

The final straw was the bill that PPM put forward hastily on 21.07.2015, the bill that would see to foreign land ownership in the country, this being right after the session that saw the vote that ousted Dr. Jameel from the position of Vice President. Because of the grudge that MDP holds for Dr. Jameel, who has few or more like zero friends left in the political sphere, not many thought anything of the haste and unjust manner in which PPM speedily executed the no confidence motion put forward, with the help of members of MDP of course.

Without researching into the ramifications, the results & effects that a foreign land ownership bill would mean to a country such as ours, an “emergency” parliament session of sorts happened just that night. Debate that took place saw most MPs in favor of the bill, which of course wasn’t surprising. The uproar amongst the people however was certainly huge. You only had to look at the chatter on the social media to understand that people’s frustrations were at an all time high & that MDP acceding to the bill would perhaps become the final straw.

While people were still trying to grapple with the bill that had been put forth by the government, President Yameen appointed his new Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb, swore him in with the Supreme Justice present & of course on the same breathe sent the decision to parliament for approval just yesterday (22.07.2015). Before the day was through, Adeeb had been accepted as the Vice President (70 out of the 84 said YES) & the foreign land ownership bill had also passed through (70 out of the 84 said YES), both with flying colors.

Meanwhile diehard MDP fans & supporters refuse to acknowledge the fact that all this could not have happened without MDP being part of the package, that MDP could have actually walked the talk they have been preaching left & right since they came into existence. For instance, today’s free whip line still managed to garner the votes required for the foreign land ownership amendment, which would still have been the case had MDP opted for a free whip for the age amendment, both being amendments to the constitution. That would have at least meant that MDP “wanted” to uphold its principles but given the circumstances, left it up to individual members to decide how they wanted to vote. That, I believe would’ve showed the public just who & who in MDP are part of the ring of “corruption” that runs rampant in our parliament today.

For a party that celebrated its 10th anniversary just recently, it is a bit disheartening & disappointing that they don’t have an alternative leader in place to lead the party & contest in the 2018 presidential elections. Betting all they have on President Nasheed as the only candidate that they would like to see become President is unrealistic given the volatility of Maldivian politics & public sentiments across the board. My opinion, as irrelevant as it maybe is that this country would no longer give President Nasheed the chance to govern it again, come 2018 or even later on.

If you ask me, President Yameen has proved himself to be a brilliant politician & strategist. What he has achieved since imprisoning President Nasheed has been nothing short of remarkable. With this last piece in place, President Yameen has managed to severely cripple the trust members of MDP & rest of the public have placed in the party as the “savior” that works for the common good of the people. Perhaps as usual, we might forget what has happened today, tomorrow. But I believe that these ripples of mistrust would continue to gain strength, if something weren’t to give in the near future.

As always, what will happen now remains to be seen. There are talks of a new party cropping up, a “Common People’s Party” that would stand & fight against corruption that is rampant in the country, I’d say the root of all our problems to begin with. Like President Nasheed said in an article in New York Times, “The Dregs of Dictatorship“, dictatorships don’t always die when dictators leave office. To root out the corruption, to put to rights the rotten to the core judiciary of this country, perhaps that is what is required now, a third & somewhat different an ideology from mainstream ones. A party that could stir the masses into action, that would be able to walk the talk & perhaps, just perhaps, lead our country into a place where we could experience even a semblance of tthe benefits of a unified & developed nation.

My prayer, as always is that we as a country be able to prosper, without the corrupt dragging us down along with them. Amen!

RIP The Maldivian Opposition

Vice President Dr. Jameel (Source: Internet)

Vice President Dr. Jameel (Source: Internet)

I’d be the furthest thing from being a fan of the current Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed. His arrogance, the hate pamphlet that he produced to undermine Nasheed’s presidency etc. are huge factors contributing towards my avid dislike for him. Bashing Jameel is quite the thing. He makes it easy. By being him. But right now, what I don’t understand is the need to undermine him as the Vice President, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and its supporters joining hands with hat of the ruling party, Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) & its ally Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) to lay the “groundwork” that would oust him from his position.

This brings to the mind the episode in which MDP wanted to oust the previous Prosecutor (PG) General Muizzu from his position back in 2012 for whatever reasons. Muizzu resigned without giving MDP the satisfaction. The ‘devil’ that came to replace Muizzu has become the instrument that has been playing to every tune of the current regime, prosecuting everyone left and right with charges of terrorism, even the revered President of MDP President Mohamed Nasheed himself, who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, currently transferred to house arrest while some obnubilate deal goes through with the government. Ah. How ‘lovely’ is it when these obscure ‘ha kulhi kuriah’ (six steps ahead) maneuvers tends to blow up in MDP’s face. Point; MDP never seems to learn.

Vice President to-be, current Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, lesser evil? (Source: Haveeru)

Vice President to-be, current Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, lesser evil? (Source: Haveeru)

This time, it’s the case of Dr. Jameel vs Ahmed Adeeb, the tourism minister of the current regime. Unlike last time with the PG, MDP knows PPM’s game plan. That Adeeb would be the one that would be the most likely to replace Jameel. With all of Jameel’s faults, and those are numerous if you ask me, I still don’t see how Adeeb is a better catch compared to Jameel.

Adeeb did as much and was as damaging to Nasheed’s presidency before the Feb 7th coup. One has only got to bring to the mind the anti GST campaign Adeeb launched in 2011, one of the many efforts to cripple Nasheed’s government. Coming to the present, the vast allegations of corruption that Adeeb holds to his name, the abuses of power he has been accused of, accusations of his involvement in the disappearance of the Minivan News journalist Rilwan etc. are all reasons enough to believe that when it comes to Adeeb vs Jameel, there really is no lesser evil.

MDP seems to be guided by reasons such as Jameel threatening MDP and its candidate Nasheed during 2013’s presidential race by stating that even if Nasheed were to win the runoff, he would not be allowed to assume power. Thus the rationale, he refused the toy that belongs to us & therefore we are entitled to our petty revenge, regardless. Regardless of the chaotic future this deal might unearth in the coming future.

They say tyrannical people will be replaced by people who are more tyrannical than them. And they do say karma will come and find you and slap you on the face, six ways till Sunday, wherever you maybe hiding. Perhaps it’s a case of all of that for Jameel, since the party that was founded upon the principles of democracy, transparency, people’s rights etc. seems to have turned their backs on all of it, to accept a deal of which no details have been forthcoming, to make their supporters understand the reasoning, if at all, behind any of it. Thus. I just have one thing left to say.

May the Maldivian opposition rest in peace. Amen.

“And do not incline toward those who do wrong, lest you be touched by the Fire, and you would not have other than Allah any protectors; then you would not be helped.” (Hud: 113)

The Amendment that Brought the Opposition to its Knees

Placard used in one of MDP's rallies. Brings home the truth? Photo from Haveeru

Placard used in one of MDP’s rallies. Brings home the truth? Photo from Haveeru

2008 saw a new beginning for the people of Maldives. Or so we thought. At least that’s what happened when President Nasheed first assumed office. People were free of the shackles of fear, intimidation & dread that had bounded them, some even for their entire lifetimes. But it was a short lived happiness. All that changed when deals within the parliament and out of it, to go ahead with developmental projects, as the opposition then which was today’s government, remained stronger even then than the MDP government, which made it practically impossible to proceed if otherwise. Velezinee’s outcries regarding the judiciary, the composition of the Supreme Court went unheeded, the aftermath of which we are living through, even today.

Fast forward to February 7 2012, a day that marked the beginning of the end of the democratic process that had gained little momentum, and had started its inevitable descent into chaos. It wasn’t just MDP and President Nasheed that suffered in the aftermath that followed. Countless Maldivians who actually believed in the concept of ‘aneh dhivehiraajje’; we all suffered, mourned and were debilitated by the loss of the government we all believed would serve the people than the cronies that surrounded them. Some cried, others held them back because President Nasheed stood up and showed that there was fight still left in him. The people rose, to fight, to get back the rights that they’d fought for so hard, so long, only for it to slip through the fingers just like that.

Commonwealth intervention after the coup brought forth the report by the Commission of National Inquiry set up by Dr. Waheed’s government. Hard as it was to swallow the results of the report, the blatant untruths in it, the sheer audacity behind its justifications, we bucked up and dealt. It was frustrating, it was a blow to the solar plexus of the people who believed. But once again, I believed in the wisdom behind President Nasheed taking the higher road. Just as I’d believed that had President Nasheed not stepped down on the day of the coup, this country would’ve had the blood of its people shed on its soil, something we would never have been able to move past from. And after months of protests, people had to focus their energies on something that’d give them hope. And that was the election of 2013.

Come election time, people were jubilant. Their voice was once again going to be heard, their votes the very thing that’d break apart a government that had been put together by mutinying forces within the police and military. The tick that they’d place on the ballot paper being the one that would smash to smithereens the belief held by the corrupt circle of politicians that had financed and backed the coup that had ousted a legitimate government.

2013 yet again proved to be one that tested the patience and endurance of MDP as well as those that believed in them. Supreme Court’s high handed tactics, all well orchestrated by the people in power today, with the help of business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim who himself is cowering somewhere outside of the country at the moment, is one that continues to haunt us. People were literally and figuratively fed up by the time the last round of elections were held and once more, I believed in the path that President Nasheed chose to walk upon when he conceded defeat and allowed President Yameen to assume office. It irked, it rankled and it put a huge damper on our hopes, the sheer effort that MDP had put into its campaign enough to show who had been the most deserving of the title of Presidency.

Since then, a lot has happened. President Nasheed decided on his own volition that to be born again, one had to die and that he’d face the consequences of the corrupt judiciary that stands ready to legitimize every single unjustifiable deed that is done by the incumbent government. 13 years in jail was what he got out of it, once more a blow to the hearts of his supporters, the people who believed in him. That President Nasheed chose to stand his ground and fight, rather than go into hiding was one that resonated within the hearts of even those that were reluctant to give him any credit. But sadly, today I find myself having difficulty reconciling with what the opposition, MDP, the party whose basic principles I have believed in, how utterly and effectively defeated they seem to stand, the values they’d preached on podiums with vigor all but lying tattered beneath their feet.

As I write this, parliament will be taking the vote that’d decide whether the constitutional amendment which would mean the age of the President and Vice President be capped between 30 and 65 would go through, meaning the current Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed would be ousted and most likely, as rumors have it, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb be brought in as our new Vice President.

None of this can happen without MDP choosing to vote yes, with 3/4th majority of parliament members required to bring amendments to the constitution. What is supposed to be the ‘sacred’ rule book that should govern the affairs of the country is now being amended at whim, to suite the political ambitions of a certain group of people, and MDP is complicit in the very act, at last bowing down to the whims of this tyrannical government that rules and maintains its hold through corruption, coercion and pressing on the pressure points that’d yield them results.

I remain in a state of chaotic contemplation, my mind unable to accept the gravity of MDP’s decision to align itself with this government, the way it so silently folded, in the face of whatever the government dangled in front of them. If one were to deduce things from what has been on the forefront of the news, MDP hopes to secure the release of President Nasheed, and perhaps foresee him contesting in the 2018’s election.

I hold no such hope. In my naivety as some people put it, I see the incumbent government for what it is. A state ruled by the corrupt rich, gangsters a part of its core, the sort of people you never ever sit down to make deals with.

There’s no point in being principled if you can’t walk the talk. There’s no point of honor if you can’t show it to the people when they need to see it the most. And there’s no point of hope, when the very party that acted as the beacon of it has just switched itself off, and not a flicker of it remains to visible to the naked eye.

PS: As I was set to publish this, the amendment was passed with a whopping 77 votes from the 85 member parliament. MPs of Kendhoo constituency Ali Hussain and Galolhu Dhekunu constituency Ahmed Mahloof were the only ones who seemed to have listened to the sentiments of the public that didn’t want the amendment passed. Thank you for listening to the people. Thank you.