The peace-loving Maldivians’ find themselves victims of the political and international gamesmanship of President Yameen’s resolve to serve his own prosperity at the cost of the well-being of his people, posing a serious threat to the stability of Maldivian democracy with his disregard for the law and judiciary. President Yameen had disbanded the entire opposition, incarcerating any and all figures that could potentially threaten his need for power, including imprisoning his brother and nephew, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and son Ahmed Faris Maumoon. President Yameen had also amended laws to ensure that those seeking asylum abroad, including former President Mohamed Nasheed and Jumhooree Party (JP) founder Qasim Ibrahim, cannot be nominated for elections for 10 years.
While local leaders who were courageous enough to question President Yameen’s actions are facing prison sentences of more than 20 years, the presidential election draws near and President Yameen’s actions show that he would not allow a united opposition candidate to beat him in the elections. His hijacking of the two key institutions essential for the election process – the Elections Commission and the Supreme Court – shows that the elections would neither be free nor fair, and the EU and UN are unlikely to send an official Election Observation Mission.
President Yameen’s determination to hold onto power was made apparent when he devised ‘an ingenious way’ of evading the February 1 Supreme Court order to release nine political prisoners by imposing a state of emergency. This was followed by the arrest of the Chief Justice and other judges responsible for the ruling, amending the Judicature Act to appoint judges loyal to him and amending the Anti-Defection Bill to terminate ‘dozens of MPs from his own party.
EU and UN asking for transparency and conditions for free and fair elections have fallen on deaf ears. Government officials are hesitant to raise their voice against President Yameen for fear of losing their jobs while opposition rallies are dealt with severely, further pushing the pubic into forced compliance.
In a last ditch attempt to garner public support, President Yameen began borrowing heavily from both China and Saudi Arabia, embarking upon infrastructure and social welfare schemes and blatantly played the ‘Islamic card’ by choosing Chancellor of the Islamic University, Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, as his running mate, a clear indication, of President Yameen’s move further away from liberal democratic values.
Whether the public can deliver an ‘overwhelming vote’ to oust President Yameen, which seems to be the only way out.
Nicolas Bay,French politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from France.