Jameel to head new opposition coalition to oust Yameen

Jameel to head new opposition coalition to oust Yameen
May 30 17:51 2016

Opposition leaders are to announce a new coalition, headed by former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, to oust President Abdulla Yameen, The Maldives Independent understands.

The coalition is to be called the United Opposition of the Maldives.

It will be announced after a meeting of the representatives of opposition parties and prominent politicians in London on June 1.

Jameel, former President Mohamed Nasheed, representatives of jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, jailed former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and the Adhaalath Party will participate in the meeting, according to a statement by the new coalition today.

The stated aim of the June 1 meeting is to “explore ways of legally preventing the Maldives’ continued slide into dictatorship and authoritarianism” under Yameen, the statement said.

Officials from the main opposition, Maldivian Democratic Party, declined to comment when asked if the coalition intends to remove the president from office.

Speaking to The Hindu last week, Nasheed had said Jameel was willing to lead the coalition.

“They [coalition representatives] all have supporters back at home, and so if we can group ourselves as an entity in exile that would assist the people in the Maldives struggling for democracy… We can come up with a very strong and credible organisation abroad and must explore all the avenues and options that we have.”

The coalition would lobby governments, particularly those in the Indian Ocean, for recognition of the new entity in exile, he said, adding that he hoped India would view his efforts “in a favourable light and engage with such a grouping, which would be in the best interest of the people of the Maldives and the Indian Ocean at large.”

Nasheed had attempted to orchestrate Yameen’s arrest in February, but the plan failed with the arrest of a judge and the former chief prosecutor. The opposition has accused Yameen of corruption, terrorism financing and money laundering, a claim he has denied.

A UN-led effort at facilitating all-party talks has not been successful yet.

The MDP said the June 1 meeting at the Royal Overseas League in Green Park is especially significant because it brings together “hitherto political rivals” and former members of the governing coalition.

The Jumhooree Party, whose split with Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives and alliance with the MDP triggered Nasheed’s arrest and jailing on a terror charge, said it is “unaware” of a new coalition.

However the party’s deputy leader Ahmed Ameen said he will be attending the London meeting “in a personal capacity.”

Ameen fled to London with MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed in June, days before the pair were charged with terrorism following their arrest from a historic opposition protest.

Charges were later lifted against Ameen.

When asked if coalition members would return to the Maldives, Ameen said he cannot return because of pending charges. “Only Ali Waheed and Jameel do not face this threat. But I think neither of them would be able to reach home from the airport before they get arrested.”

Nasheed was recently granted political asylum in the UK. Nazim and the Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla, jailed on charges of weapons smuggling and terrorism, respectively, were recently transferred to house arrest. Jameel fled to the UK days before he was impeached by the PPM-dominated parliament.

The MDP has meanwhile announced a rally for Thursday night and a pre-Ramadan feast for supporters on Friday.

Opposition activities had come to a near stop in recent months with a home ministry-ordered ban on protests and marches.

Yameen departed for Malaysia today on an official trip and is due back on June 2.

The PPM issued a statement yesterday condemning a report by the opposition aligned Raajje TV which claimed Yameen’s half brother and former president of 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, no longer supported him. The ruling party has issued several statements dismissing rumours of rifts between the two brothers.

Additional writing by Zaheena Rasheed