In his interview to BBC HARDtalk programme, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik said he was prepared for an early election but that he was not empowered to declare a date for election.
“This is not a dictatorship”, he said.
Moreover, he said early elections could be held only with Constitutional amendments and that the discussion for an early election, as well as what needs to be done in order to stabilize the situation, should be carried through the Parliament.
“We have a constitution, the election can only be brought forward by 120 days, and I’ve already said that I’m prepared, clearly any elections would have to be approved by the parliament and constitutional amendments have to take place.”
Following questions that former President Mohamed Nasheed who has claimed that he was ousted in a “coup detat” and pressed for early presidential elections within this year, President Waheed said “he can have an election this year if the parliament approves an amendment to the constitution. I’m all for it and I have already said that I will encourage and work with all political parties to achieve that.”
He also agreed that following the chaos in Parliament on March 1st where his predecessor’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) legislators had stymied the reconvening of Parliament, he felt that the first order of business in the nation should be to hold early elections.
Explaining the controversial circumstances surrounding the resignation of Nasheed, President Waheed reiterated that his predecessor had resigned on his own accord without any duress.
“He resigned in front of live television with his cabinet behind him. He could have indicated even indirectly then we would have gotten the message. He should have said but didn’t, and signed his letter by himself. I don’t think he was forced, clearly I wasn’t there therefore I don’t know all the details. I’ve set up an enquiry commission and they will find out.”
Answering the criticism and questions pertaining to the members of the enquiry commission, Waheed stressed that as the small nature of the country it was difficult to find people qualified enough to serve on such a committee who had no previous government or political affiliations.
When asked of his opinion of having an overseas representative as an active member in the Commission of National Enquiry, he said “I have no reservation about it. We are working very closely with Commonwealth right now. We have a Commonwealth Special Envoy who is arriving in the Maldives in a matter of a few hours and we will provide all cooperation necessary.”
President Waheed also denied accusations that he had formed alliance with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his loyalists and stressed that his plan for a national unity government had been based on the representation of all active political parties of the country including the MDP.
“I am working with all the political parties and I have invited Mr Nasheed’s party also to join and to work together”.
When asked of the damage that the current unrest was causing to the Maldives, Waheed said that the politically motivated disruptions were being instigated by Nasheed’s supporters.
“Its Nasheed’s way or no way. He only wants early elections and he is not willing to compromise. There are other political parties in the country that represents the majority of the people. We must all come to a mutual agreement so that we could have some semblance of peace and stability in Male.”
President Waheed expressed hope that the current political standoff would be resolved in the near future and revealed that was in constant dialogue with MDP to seek an amicable solution to the situation.