Since early February a large amount of government time, a significant part of the government machinery and indeed, most of the energy of politicians and political parties has been focused on CoNI and the Political Parties Talks.
by Dr Hassan Saeed
It says a lot about the National Unity Government that there has still been some progress in key policy areas such as investment, employment, public finance, corruption which, after all, is what the Maldives public are most interested in.
Nevertheless, after all the energy expended, CoNI will at last be publishing its report today. Tonight President Waheed has called for a meeting of all the leaders involved in the Political Parties Talks.
CoNI’s report and the talks tonight should bring to an end a painful period in our history. This was a period in which a sitting President prematurely left office. It was a period in which former President Nasheed, following his erratic performance over two days in February, then led protests to destabilize the new government. A period in which Nasheed’s MDP supporters caused massive destruction across the country.
As I have set out in detail in my submission to CoNI he has continually demonstrated his unfitness to hold the office of President.
CoNI and the Political Parties Talks have consumed vast amounts of our time preparing briefings, reports and attending meetings to explain the truth to people who knew very little about what had actually happened last February- but nevertheless somehow believed that they were experts about these events.
As a consequence we have been unable to focus enough on the crucial domestic issues that are so important to this country.
Having received the report, we should now say thank you to our foreign partners for their assistance and get on with tackling the issues raised. We sincerely hope our partners can, of course, help us in democratic institution-building over the coming months which will help to ensure that February 2012 never happens again.
However, we do not need to be lectured on how to deal with the CoNI report. Also we do not need our international partners to come up a roadmap to implement CoNI report. If there are issues to address in the report then we have already established a perfectly good formula worked out with the Commonwealth: the President, the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General will address them.
As I have said before, CoNI has been part of a process of uncovering the truth and not just a single event. That is why we should also read the CoNI report along with the three Human Rights Commission reports. Assembling all the facts has been important to this entire process.
Following the meeting tonight the Political Party Talks should also move on to discussion in Parliament where necessary laws can be introduced, amended or abolished. In fact, a number of key pieces of legislation are waiting for passage in Parliament. The CoNI report can then have a practical purpose of contributing to informed debate over these legislations.
However we need to bring the investigation and fact-gathering element of this process to an end. We need to promote a sense of normalcy in our country. We must not give the impression to our people and those in the international community that we are a nation in crisis unable to resolve our own problems. We need to send the message that our institutions are functioning and that we don’t need foreigners and international organizations to help us and mediate between us.
Unless we change the face that we are presenting to the world, investors will be reluctant to invest in a country with such political instability. Whilst politicians bicker we desperately need investment to address the alarming levels of unemployment, that particularly impact on our young people.
That is why we have to go beyond CoNI because we have a nation to run. The Public is demanding answers and they are not receiving them. They want the government to fix the economy. They want the crime rate to go down and criminals punished. They want to have a peaceful night’s sleep.
Our government has been transparent and open. We need to have the confidence to challenge those diplomats and politicians in the international community who sometimes seem to let their personal political sympathies determine their approach to our problems. We should no longer tolerate behind the scenes activity from people who should know better-particularly those who fail to practice what they preach in their own country.
Note: Dr Hassan Saeed is currently the Special Advisor to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik