Thursday, February 09, 2012

Maldives: Protests in Male After Nasheed's Defiant Speech To Supporters



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Addressing a meeting of the National Council of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at Dharubaruge on the afternoon of February 8,2012,Mohammad Nasheed, who was forced to resign as the President on February 7 following a mutiny by a group of about 100 officers of the Police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), who joined protesters of the opposition parties, Nasheed called upon DrMohammed WaheedHasan, his Vice-President who was sworn in as the President after his resignation, to immediately step down from the office of President and promised immediate elections.

2.The Council rejected an invitation from Dr.Waheed to join the national unity government formed by him and proclaimed that Nasheed’s Government was the only “legitimate” Government of the country and would not negotiate with the Government formed by Dr.Waheed.

3.Addressing hundreds of Party workers who rushed to Dharubaruge after hearing of his presence there,Nasheed said: “I will never back down until a lawful legitimate government is sworn in.” Nasheed called upon the chief justice to investigate yesterday’s coup “and bring those responsible to justice.”

4. He added:“We will never allow the national defense forces and the police to be hijacked by the opposition.We will assure our key pledges of affordable housing, transport networks, closure of the doors opened towards narcotics, and bringing down the commodity prices.”

5.According to the MDP, Nasheed was yesterday forced to resign by the military, which threatened “a bloodbath in the capital” if he did not step down from the presidency.

6.MPAlhanFahmy, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem and several party MPs said the MDP would not negotiate with DrWaheed’s government and declared that Nasheed “is still the legitimate President.”

7.Party President Dr Ibrahim Didi, who last night said on television that he supported cooperation with the new government, told the council, “I was misinterpreted by the media stating that I was open to the idea of a unity government but I only stated that I would decide after consulting the party council.”

8.As the meeting ended, Nasheed said, “I call upon all of us to march to ‘Haruge’ [MDP camp] after this meeting and open it for it was the place where freedom of speech and expression originated.” The supporters of Nasheed started marching to the party camp with Nasheed leading them. The marchers clashed with some opposition supporters near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). According to latest reports tweeted by supporters of Nasheed, someMNDF elements were on their way to the scene after the police failed to disperse the marchers through pepper spray. Nasheed is marching at the head of them.

The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.