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#Maldives Presidency 2013: Can President Waheed survive ex-President Nasheed attempts to topple him?

Male', Maldives.
Day 1 of President Waheed's infant presidency ended in street terrorism, arson and vandalism in some islands, backing a demand by ex-President Nasheed for Dr. Waheed's immediate resignation. In response, Dr. Waheed made three key political appointees, which drew widespread criticism from the public. Police and military response to the riots yesterday are being condemned as brutal and excessive. As Day 2 speeds by, the Judiciary has entered the fray with the Criminal Court reportedly issuing a warrant for the arrest of Nasheed and his Defence Minister DIK Tholhath Ibrahim.

The riots in the capital Male' were led by Nasheed himself, while the arson and vandalism in strongholds of Nasheed's party MDP were led by MDP MPs and Municipal Council members. In scenes reminiscent of the last days of Nasheed's regime, large numbers of protestors and riot police officials suffered injuries.

The scale and extent of Nasheed's rebellion give a clear message to the new Government and the people that Nasheed and his party have no intention of participating in a national unity government. It also clearly demonstrates that Nasheed himself, if not the MDP as a political party, is a potent and militant political force which must be brought into the mainstream if there is to be a smooth democratic transition to a free and fair elections in 2013.

At the same time, the swift and brutal actions by the military and police to control Nasheed's riots give rise to further doubts about the capacity of the military and police to remain impartial and maintain peace and security during political crises, a crucial element for a free and fair election in 2013 or earlier.

Nasheed's resignation on Tuesday was precipitated by a stand taken by over 1000 police officers, not to obey unconstitutional orders, as is their constitutional right. Nasheed and his party leaders allege that the disobedience by the police was in collaboration with the Defence forces, and was a military coup planned and executed by those loyal to former President Gayyoom.

President Waheed has declared total ignorance of any coup attempt, and commended those police officials who upheld and defended the Constitution. However, Dr. Waheed's appointment of known anti-Nasheed figures to key Cabinet posts and the post of Commissioner of Police has fired more suspicions of his involvement rather than alleviating them. The precipitate move fraught with the potential to fire up an already volatile situation hence throws into question Dr. Waheed's ability to withstand pressures from other political parties.

Last night, President Waheed appointed Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Deputy leader of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), as Minister of Home Affairs, and ex-serviceman Ahmed Nazim (Seeney) as Minister of Defence. Dr. Jameel's appointment, is being viewed with reservation, since he is the subject of an ongoing investigation against him by the Police, a force that he now commands by law.

Defence Minister Nazim was sacked by Nasheed and won a civil suit against the MNDF for unlawful discharge. The case was settled through an out court settlement between Nazim and the MNDF. The opposition allege that Nazim's dismissal was due to political affiliation with former President Gayoom.

New appointee to the post of Commissioner of Police, Abdulla Riyaz, was similarly fired by Nasheed from his post of Assistant Police Commissioner, and sought legal redress. Riyaz too won his legal case against the Executive. Riyaz is a member of the Policy Council of the opposition Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP), and was Home Minister in the DRP shadow cabinet.

Most critical, however, is the fact that the appointments of Nazim and Riyaz expose President Waheed to Nasheed's charge that he was forced to resign in a military coup in which Dr. Waheed participated. On Tuesday 7th February media reported that, prior to Nasheed's resignation, both Nazim and Riyaz, had gone to the MNDF HQ. They were met at the gate by the then Chief of Defence Forces Moosa Jaleel and escorted inside. There are no reports of events inside from that moment.

However, upon their emergence from the MNDf, Nazim and Riyaz gave statements to the press saying that they had met President Nasheed and given him two ultimatums: 1) Resign before 1330 that day; and 2) Commissioner of Police Faseeh and ACP Atheeh to also resign immediately. While there are no report about in what capacity that Nazim and Riyaz conducted negotiations with Nasheed or as to whom they were representing, media reports soon emerged that Nasheed had agreed to resign and that the Defence Forces were now being commanded by Nazim. The question of whom these two individual represented in their negotiations, and Dr. Waheed's knowledge of, or lack thereof, of those negotiations remain unanswered.

Sources close to President Waheed report that the delay in appointment of the rest of the Cabinet are due to huge demands by Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim. Public speculation is rife that Gasim's demand is for the position of Vice President, either for him or for JP aide, former Attorney General Diyana Saeed. Ms. Saeed has reportedly lodged several criminal cases against ex-President Nasheed today. This move by Ms. Saeed is said to be the reason behind the Criminal Court warrant to arrest Nasheed and his Defence Minister Tholhath.

Gayoom's PPM is reported to also be negotiating for cabinet posts, while the DRP has said that it will not take any cabinet posts but will give all due cooperation to the new Government. DRP's move is being hailed as being the more appropriate action, while PPM's strong involvement has further exposed President Waheed to working in collaboration with ex-President Gayyoom, a charge he can do well without. Public opposition to any re-election bid by Gayoom is as strong as opposition to Nasheed's reinstatement without a free and fair election.

It remains to be seen if Dr. Waheed can manage to balance himself on the fine tightrope between the two bitterly fighting sides aligned with Nasheed and Gayoom respectively. It is unlikely that any inclusion of a Gayoom's PPM seat on Waheed's cabinet will be accepted quietly by Nasheed's MDP

In summary, President Waheed's proposed National Unity Government looks more like a pipe dream. In the meantime, President Waheed, in Day 2 of his Presidency, is faced with pursuing legal action against two former President's for alleged criminal actions while in office.

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