By Dr Hassan Saeed
The birth pangs of democracy in the Maldives have been more painful than perhaps any of us anticipated. That is one reason that we welcome help and advice from our many friends in the international community whether the United Nations, India or the Commonwealth amongst others.
However it is vital that any conclusions that these friends draw and subsequent statements that they make are firmly based on firsthand experience and objective analysis of what is actually happening on the ground in the Maldives. Their credibility here and elsewhere in the future depends on it.
The new National Unity Government in the Maldives is already fostering good international relations with a range of partners. We are very confident of our legitimacy and integrity as a government.
We are also happy to be judged by our actions since former President Nasheed’s resignation on the 7th February and also in the months to come. But these same criteria should also be applied to Mr. Nasheed and his supporters in his political party the MDP.
That is why we were disappointed with the somewhat muted condemnation by the international community, of the violence on the part of MDP MPs that prevented the opening of our Parliament on the 1st March.
And on 19th March we have witnessed unprecedented scenes of violence, vandalism and arson in our capital Male. This is not legitimate political protest- this is criminality pure and simple.
Demonstrators led by the MDP, attacked the local TV station VTV studio, with rocks and iron bars causing damage amounting to approximately 1.5 million Rufiyaa to the building and equipment.
Sympathizers of the MDP also torched the Auction Shop area in Male, with an area about 5000 sq ft. razed to the ground.
Eight law enforcement officers were injured. One officer has such severe head injuries that he is being evacuated to Sri Lanka for urgent treatment. Mr. Nasheed is yet to condemn any of these actions.
President Waheed refused to be intimidated and would not allow these so called ‘champions of democracy’ to prevent him, for the second time, from carrying out his constitutional duty in delivering his opening address to the Peoples Majilis thus allowing it to operate.
Mr Nasheed is clearly an energetic networker. Many in the West know him – and laud him - for his pronouncements on climate change. His record at home was very different. The international agencies were aware of this. We told them. Concerns around his disregard of basic human rights and our constitution were raised continuously from when he came to power.
Moreover, it is now six weeks since Mr. Nasheed’s resignation. It is simply unhelpful to see statements that make continuing unfounded insinuations as to the safety of Mr. Nasheed which can only be based on an impression he has worked assiduously to create.
Note: Dr Hassan Saeed is the Special Advisor to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik