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#Maldives: Democracy suspended as Executive, Legislature and Judiciary in limbo?

Male', Maldives.
Almost two months since the transfer of power between President Mohamed Waheed and his predecessor Mohamed Nasheed, and democracy in Maldives shows little sign of getting back on track. The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary continue to be in limbo with respect to the major issues confronting the country and the people today.

The legitimacy of the Executive is disputed by the largest party in the country, Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party. The majority of international spectators appear to support the MDP stand, with powerful players such as the EU calling for an early election to install a 'legitimate' government. MDP, in its traditional style, have taken their demands for an early election to the streets, with continued widespread protests which the Waheed government have been unable to control.

Prolonged and violent confrontations between protestors and security forces are radicalizing increasing numbers of youth. The police use of force against female protestors and indiscriminate illegal uses of pepper spray and water guns have condemned by MDP and non-MDP alike. Retaliatory attacks on individual police officers and their family members outrage the rest of the country. Counter arguments claim that MDP is purposefully criminalizing youth in order to destabilize the country to gain local and international support for an early election to reinstate its Spiritual Leader for Life, Nasheed.

The Legislature continues to be in limbo, although People's Majlis (Parliament) was opened on March 19th, and President Waheed was able to deliver an abridged version of his Presidential Address amidst screaming and yelling by MDP MPs. The public gained little from the Parliament opening as President Waheed gave no indication of a way forward except through his fall back scheme of All Party Talks, a negotiation which continues to be stalled.

MDP, the largest opposition party even in Parliament, refuse to follow parliamentary regulations which dictate that it must respond in 14 days to Dr. Waheed's presidential address. They claim that since President Waheed is not a legitimate president, it cannot respond to a statement by him.

MDP also state that since Dr. Waheed's party has not even a single seat in Parliament and hence cannot table even a single bill to Parliament, it does not see how Parliament can legally proceed forward. They have raised with the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid a number of legal issues in relation to this,

Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid has yet to give a legal response to MDP's queries, nor has he given a schedule of the Parliamentary agenda for this season. Meanwhile, the backlog of legislation at Parliaments continues to stagnate, almost three months after its last session. High on the priority would be parliamentary consent for Dr. Waheed's Cabinet of Ministers, his Vice Presidential nominee Mohamed Waheeduddeen, and possibly amendment of parliamentary regulations to enable the government to table bills to Parliament.

The Judiciary too remains in limbo with respect to the numerous issues of constitutional violations before it. The lower courts continue their hearings and rulings, again disputed by MDP which claim the lower courts as unconstitutional and hence invalid. Decisions relating to MPs and former MPS are being railroaded through the lower courts, much to the dismay of the segment of the population who had some level of confidence in the independence of the Judiciary.

The major issue of Nasheed's arrest of the Senior Judge of the Criminal Courts Abdulla Mohamed remains stalled within the Human Rights Commission of Maldives. The long arm of justice is still very far far away for Judge Abdulla, as the HRCM findings when and if it is ever issued, would then go to the Prosecutor General for a decision on prosecution for the case.

For a man who defiantly stated that he would prosecute all those responsible for the illegal arrest of Judge Abdulla, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizzu appears relatively complacent with the slow speed of the HRCM.

Issues of human rights violations under the Nasheed regime and under the current government are still pending investigation and action.

Finally, regardless of which color their political affiliation, the majority of Maldivians still await for a national independent inquiry into the transfer of power on February 7th, 2012. Dr. Waheed's National Inquiry Commission has stated that its report will be out in May 2012, a schedule received with dismay by many would like to know the truth.

Although the whole event appeared to transpire on public media, supported by leaked videos and audios of security service headquarters, the discrepancies in the stories of lead actors (notably the many versions told and retold by Nasheed himself) have raised questions in public minds, questions which need to be answered in order for a peaceful resolution to the crisis of democracy in the country.

President Waheed's continual disclaimer that he was just a spectator in these events have drawn ridicule from locals and international press, who call upon him to "show some leadership" as the President of the country.

Regardless of when an election is held, the crucial factors are that they should free and fair. However, with the country engaged in political conflict, little is being done by the lead political parties to bring about the enabling conditions for a free and fair elections.

The prolonged conflicts between MDP and the government, and the many disputed issues around the power transfer, appear to have convinced even some of the most level minded that an early election would be the fair and conciliatory route back to democracy. The key argument behind the call for an early election cannot be disputed even by the National Unity Government. That is, essentially, to let the voters decide who should rule them.

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