President Mohamed Nasheed, the beleaguered new president of the Maldives, continues to escalate his systemic persecution of his political opponents and dissenters. Addressing a rally of his party, Maldivian Democratic Party, on 22 May 2009, President Nasheed vowed to his party members that he would sate their blood lust for former president and opposition leader Gayoom and other political opponents.
“Not one of you, doubt me on this. Take what I say now seriously, not as a joke. I will arrest people. … And I will do this too in a systemic manner. I will take this action at the appropriate time. I will do as you are demanding that I do. And when I set out to arrest people, no one can stop me”, Nasheed vowed to his ecstatic followers at the rally, held immediately after a series of failed demonstrations by MDP hooligans in front of Gayoom’s residence. These demonstrations lead by Nasheed’s State Minister for Transport Aslam Shakir, tried without any success to entice a public outcry for the arrest of the opposition leader Gayoom. Contrary to their expectations, the public have come out to demand a halt to Nasheed’s persecution of Gayoom and other top opposition leaders.
President Nasheed said that he would use his new Presidential Commission created last week to allegedly investigate embezzlement of state funds, to implement his vow. Nasheed created his Witch Hunt Commission, solely comprised of his closest henchmen who had been leading the attacks on his opponents, immediately after his party was heavily beaten in the recent parliamentary elections. Nasheed’s Witch Hunt Commission has been criticized by top legal experts as being unconstitutional and having excessive powers outside the bounds of law. In this respect, top legal experts slammed Nasheed for infringing on the constitutional mandates of the Anti Corruption Commission and the Prosecutor General and the mandates of the Maldives Police Service under law.
Perhaps influenced by this legal outcry against his new additional contravention of the constitution, President Nasheed last night backtracked on his previous vociferous stand that his Witch Hunt Commission could work independently with the mandate that he had summarily given it. Last night he said that he had created Witch Hunt Commission to assist the independent institutions constitutionally mandated to investigate and take action against corruption.
However, President Nasheed lambasted the Maldives Police Service for not acceding to his demands for the arrest of people targeted by the Auditor General Maakun Naaem in his timely reports published prior to each election. “I have sent the Auditor General’s reports to the police, but to date I see no sign of action from them”, he said. Nasheed stated that, in spite of this lack of action by the police, his pet commission would hunt out all evidence required for trial, and that he would arrest and punish all culprits, without exception.
“I have not even one iota of doubt about the powers I have [as president], about my political powers and about how these powers can be used and about how I intend to use these powers”, Nasheed told his screaming followers last night.
Last night Nasheed unveiled his plan for the systemic interrogation and arrest of the key people targeted by Auditor General Maakun Naeem. Maakun Naeem hails from the Maakun clan which has always been closely allied with Nasheed and which has been rewarded with several top posts in the Nasheed government. The sole targets of Maakun Naeem’s reports to date are former president Gayoom and his family, his top ministers and recently, the leaders of the People’s Alliance, Gayoom’s coalition partner in their win over Nasheed in the recent parliamentary elections. However, a reading of Maakun Naeem’s reports reveal that Maakun Naeem has not followed any known international standard for auditing, but arbitrarily selects and prey upon predetermined victims.
Nasheed claimed that his sole reason in persecuting the opposition was to teach his own political leaders a lesson. In a speech reminiscent of Emperor Caligula and Idi Amin, Nasheed last night stated that once the people that he himself had appointed to high political posts saw what happened to people who betrayed the “state”, they would think twice before taking a similar action.
This latter threat comes at a time that the struggling Nasheed government is falling apart as his partners in the coalition which contested the second round of the Presidential Elections 2008 have publicly vocally slammed Nasheed’s presidency as being undemocratic and against the interests of the nation. However, four ministers still in the Nasheed government hail from coalition partners Jumhooree Party and Qaumee Party, and it is expected that Nasheed would warn them against betraying him.
This threat also follows closely on the heels of Nasheed’s arbitrary sacking of his Attorney General Diyana Saeed last week. Diyana Saeed, whose “betrayal” was to publish her injunctions against Nasheed to immediately halt his unconstitutional and illegal actions, told media that Nasheed threatened her with dismissal two weeks prior to her sacking.
“My government cannot be toppled. We hold all the power. Even though we did not succeed as well as we wanted to in the parliamentary elections, the elections have clearly shown the political climate in the Maldives. It has shown that our party Maldivian Democratic Party is the biggest political action in the country, and that it is the largest political party in the country at this present time”, President Nasheed claimed last night.
President Nasheed’s latest threats are part and parcel of a coercion and oppression campaign he began during his state funded campaign for his party’s candidates contesting the recent parliamentary elections, Following his party’s massive defeat at the polls on May 9th, by Gayoom’s Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party and its coalition partner People’s Alliance Party, Nasheed immediately began taking vengeance on a public which had said a resounding NO to him.
In the post election days, Nasheed’s intimidation of independent MPs, opposition leaders, young dissidents, and civil servants continues unabated. Opposition leader Gayoom has been threatened with death by lynching by MDP mouthpiece Reeko Moosa on public TV. Two independent MPs have been threatened by Nasheed with trumped up fraud cases, while young dissidents and their families are harassed by MDP thugs. Protected by the regime and publicly encouraged by their leader Nasheed, MDP thugs commit acts of arson and vandalism against their political opponents. Opposition party members have been mugged in constituencies where MDP suffered huge defeats. Two young DRP activists were knifed in Male’ last week. Arson attacks have been carried out against opposition loyalists. Police have thrice brutally attacked peaceful gatherings and arrested several opposition activists. The capital Male’ is patrolled by army and police armed with batons and riot gear.
In this climate of terror and intimidation by the regime, it remains to be seen whether the newly elected Parliament will fulfill its mandates representing the people and protecting the people from the excesses of the Nasheed regime.