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#Maldives in Constitutional Crisis: Nasheed's Master Plan may be a deal with opposition partners?

Male', Maldives.
Into the sixth day of civic protests against President Nasheed's overturning of the constitution and compromising of judicial independence, the protests shows no sign of abating. If anything, civilian numbers joining the protests each night are increasing. However, at the same time, the protest does show any clear signs of succeeding in its stated demands.

Over various nights of protest, leaders of the protest have stated varying demands. It began with a demand for the release of opposition politician Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Deputy Leader of Dhivehi Qaumee Party. Dr. Jameel was released upon a criminal court order issued by Senior Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Dr. Jameel has been detained several times since then, yet not arrested as before.

President Nasheed immediately took Judge Abdulla into military detention, an action that violated a number of constitutional provisions while raising a hue and cry amongst the Judiciary and independent governance organs of the state. The Prosecutor General, the Chief Justice, the Maldives Lawyers Association and top lawyers have publicly stated that Nasheed and the military are clearly in contravention of the law. Prosecutor General Muizzu has said he will prosecute every single individual responsible for this violation of the constitution and judicial independence. He is supported in the condemnation by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, which is investigating the matter.

On top of this Nasheed's Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan has denounced Nasheed's extrajudicial actions and called for the release of Judge Abdulla. Dr. Waheed's denouncement has skyrocketed international media exposure of the issue, leading to an EU denouncement of Nasheed's military detention of Judge Abdulla. The EU has said, in a press statement yesterday, that upholding the constitution and independence of the military should be the center of upholding democracy in Maldives.

It is obvious from their actions that by now President Nasheed and his military leadership have accepted that they have stepped very definitely out of their legal bounds. The signs are that, having realized their gross mistake, Nasheed and his military and police leadership are hunting around for a smokescreen by twisting the issue at hand into a more plausible one for the international media and observers: Western society's perceived demon of Islamic fundamentalism.

Weathering five days of civic protest, the Nasheed government began its arrests of protestors as soon as the highly popular Adhaalath Party stepped into the picture. It then cracked down on protest leaders, cleanly scooping out Adhaalath Party Leader Shaikh Imran Abdulla and Deputy Leader Dr. Mauroof Hussain, together with smaller political fry.

Eight political parties have called for the unconditional and immediate release of Shaikh Imran and 39 others arrested during the protests, as have civic movements. The Nasheed administration has ignored these and focused on shifting world attention to their allegations against Shaikh Imran and Adhaalath Party as a whole. Namely, of religious fundamentalism, trying to incite religious violence, trying to incite hatred against other religions, calling for Jihads etc, all phrases that would alarm the Western world and lobby in support for the failing Nasheed administration, as strong and stalwart in upholding democracy.

However, regardless of which color the big picture is painted by the Nasheed administration for international observers, the reality is being stated by Prosecutor General Muizzu: No individual is above the constitution and that constitutional violations will be prosecuted and those responsible brought to justice.

PG Muizzu has been threatened with removal from office by Nasheed and his party MDP, which hold a strong majority in Parliament. At the same time, the past 6 days have been days of alarm and fright for the PG's family, as MDP thugs run an intimidation campaign against the PG and his family with phone threats, harassment on the streets, near the PG's children's school and so on.

While the PG and lawyers are very clear on the steps to be taken for resolving the constitutional crises: Prosecution of those responsible for arresting Judge Abdulla and compromising judicial independence. Even of Nasheed were to release Judge Abdulla today, these steps need to be taken, top lawyers say, and those responsible removed from office. The argument posed in support of this is that, if the perpetrators of this crime are left with the same powers as now, the judiciary is left unprotected and will continue to be intimidated.

For the moment, escalating civic protests show no path to resolution of the constitutional crises. The issue at hand is a constitutional issue and cannot be decided on the streets. It can only be decided in the the other two powers of the state: the Judiciary and the Parliament.

The entry of the issue into Parliament was earlier very effectively blocked by Nasheed though his party MPs. Nasheed holds the chairpersonship and majority of the Parliamentary Committee on National in the palm of his fist, so much so that on 18 January 2012 he was able to throw out the motion tabled by PPM to make the military and police accountable for their actions. However, now that he has got international backing, Nasheed may find it easier to shift the battle to the Parliamentary Committee where a win for MDP/DRP is assured.

However, Nasheed's problems do not end there. Along with his attack on the Judiciary, Nasheed had launched an all out attack on media independence. Both Nasheed and the Communications Minister, plus the military and the police heads, have made direct threats to the media threatening the cancellation of broadcasting license of media channels which broadcast the views and demands of the opposition side.

With the Judiciary responsible for upholding the Constitution, and the free media worked up in its own defense, President Nasheed needs to come out with a Master Plan to stay in power till 2013. Not least of these would be closed door negotiations with past allies such as DQP/DRP, and a shift in the field of conflict away from the civic protests.

Unfortunately for the Axis coalition, the presence of Adhaalath Party, PPM and Jumhooree Party at the forefront of the protests compromise their ability to shift the field of conflict onto the Parliamentary playing field where they have greater strength.

Coming days will undoubtedly follow the standard EU/UK practice of shoring up failed leaders in their pay through foreign-led "negotiations with the parties in the coflict", a buy out of DQP/DRP during these negotiations, and failure of the talks blamed upon a walk out by PPM/AP/JP.

While the political drama is going on, the onus of upholding citizen rights to good governance, constitutional supremacy, rule of law and independent judiciary rests on PG Muizzu.

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