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#Maldives Presidency 2013: Why President Nasheed fears opposition New Maldives

Male' Maldives
President Nasheed's crackdown on the top leadership of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) is ample evidence of his fear of the New Maldives camp for Presidency 2013. Continuing his persecution of political opponents, Nasheed focused his efforts in the last three days to control the increasingly popular Dr. Hassan Saeed and Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, leaders of the New Maldives movement.

Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Deputy leader of DQP, was summoned and interrogated by Nasheed's police force on January 12th, on the grounds of investigating public statements by Jameel about Nasheed and his government. ex-Sandhaanu write Ahmed Didi (Ahammaidi), a fellow member of DQP, was summoned along with Dr. Jameel and later incarcerated in Nasheed's detention centre for dangerous criminals, Dhoonidhoo Island. Abdul Matheen, another Deputy Leader of DQP, was also incarcerated at the same time, arrested by the police outside police headquarters where he was leading the civic protest against the detention of Dr. Jameel in police headquarters. Both were released after their lawyers submitted the issue of their illegal detention to the courts yesterday.

President Nasheed's attacks on opposition leaders is following a very systematic route. He began with an attack on his strongest single opposition leader, ex-President Gayoom who commands a strong personal following, greater than Nasheed's as seen by public polls. Gayoom's youngest son, Ghassan Maumoon, was arrested arbitrarily and incarcerated at Dhoonidhoo until a court order secured his release. Ghassan Maumoon, a young man who has built up a strong youth following in his own right, is seen by MDP as Gayoom's candidate for political leadership.

Nasheed's next attack was on Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, closing down Gasim Ibrahim's Flyme airline and spas on his resorts. Gasim Ibrahim, a respected businessman and philanthropist with a substantial public following, is seen by many as a viable candidate to lead warring opposition parties to victory in 2013.

A week after that, Nasheed zoomed in on Adhaalath Party, possibly the most cohesive of his political opponents. Adhaalath Party, is a significant player in the opposition, most importantly because its large membership base is built on religious grounds and not affiliation to an individual leader as almost all other parties. this gives the Adhaalath Party more cohesion and depth than parties which are coalesced around single individuals.

There is no doubt that Adhaalath Party played a substantial role in bringing Nasheed to power in 2008, although Adhaalath and Nasheed combined were unable to beat Gayoom in the first round of the presidential elections 2008. Interestingly, Nasheed's attack was on Adhaalath's spokesperson, Muslim scholar and charismatic orator Shaikh Mohamed Shaheem, possibly because he is seen by some as a potential Adhaalath candidate for Vice President in any opposition coalition bid to which Adhaalath is party to.

In the light of this systematic approach to muzzling his political opponents, it is not surprising that President Nasheed's next target was Dr. Hassan Saeed and his Dhivehi Qaumee Party. One must give the Nasheed administration credit that it was smart enough not to martyr Dr. Hassan Saeed, but chose to victimize Dr. Hassan's closest aides like Dr. Jameel and Abdul Matheen. Nasheed and his police and MDP thugs would probably not have been able to control the public outcry and civic protest if Dr. Hassan had been arrested.

Dr. Hassan, although failing to show a decent following in the 2008 elections, has built up his base in the past three years by consistently making the Nasheed administration accountable through legal processes. In a time that the Maldives Parliament has turned into a comic circus, Dr. Hassan and his team have played possibly the single most important role in ensuring that citizen rights are upheld. The team has won significant legal victories for the Maldivian citizen, holding back the encroaching hands of the despotic MDP regime from citizen assets and civic rights.

Dr. Hassan's New Maldives attracted a strong followership from amongst Gayoom followers at the time of its inception. However, Dr. Hassan's personal vindictive attacks on Gayoom after his exit from Gayoom's cabinet tarnished Dr. Hassan's clean image, and possibly lost him votes in the Presidential elections 2008. Dr. Hassan and his team appear to have learnt a tough lesson from that, as their spirited defense of the Maldivian citizen has remained cleaner and within legal bounds, as opposed to some other opposition parties. In addition, Dr. Hassan Saeed remains a very attractive choice for Maldivian big business, the kingmakers in any Maldivian elections, given that he does not hail from any warring political family or business families.

Whether these positive features can provide the seeds for a successful presidential bid by Dr. Hassan Saeed in 2013 depends on how quickly he can release himself from DRP's heavy chains around his ankles and raise himself from the mire of a failed ally.

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