Former President Mohamed Nasheed welcomed Saturday his former rival and fierce critic, former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, to the opposition, triggering derision and heated debate online.
“I welcome Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and the Maldivian Democratic Party’s efforts to unite the opposition,” Nasheed said in a tweet.
Jameel, who was impeached in July with opposition help, is a controversial figure for many of Nasheed’s supporters because of his prominent role in the religious nationalist campaign that resulted in Nasheed’s ouster in 2012. He also went on to say that Nasheed would not be allowed to assume power even if he won the 2013 polls.
Jameel is residing in London in self-imposed exile at present. Nasheed traveled to London last week after the government authorized 30 days of medical leave from prison.
Nasheed’s MDP on Thursday announced that many former members of President Abdulla Yameen’s government would join the opposition coalition. It comes amidst growing discontent over massive corruption that has embroiled ministers and MPs.
Between US$60million and US$100million is thought to be missing from tourism leases.
Jameel has previously said Yameen must stand down and pave the way for fresh elections.
But opposition supporters are calling on Jameel to apologize, while others labeled Nasheed’s welcoming of Jameel as another example of his political astuteness and quickness to forgive rivals.
Farah Faisal, Nasheed’s ambassador to the UK during his tenure, said in a Facebook post: “Absolutely not. We gave him that chance in 2008. Then he betrayed us. Now we are willing to give him another chance without him apologizing?”
Another commenter said: “President Nasheed will do it wisely if and when it’s necessary. In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies.”
Such comments have been common over the years as MDP absorbed several former rivals, including former Speaker Abdulla Shahid, former MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, MP Rozaina Adam, and Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla.
Those skeptical of the alliance pointed to the multiple instances Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim had broken alliances with the MDP.
Nasheed’s jailing on a terrorism charge last March was part of a wider crackdown on the opposition in the wake of an anti-government alliance between the JP and the MDP.
Gasim relented when the government slapped a fine of some US$90million on his businesses and went back to Yameen last year.
Sources claim former cabinet members Maleeh Jamal and Abdulla Ameen are among those expected to join the opposition coalition led by the MDP and the Adhaalath Party.
Thursday’s rally will be followed by a walk against corruption.
— Lt. (@eltea) January 30, 2016
Idealism has no place in politics that can befriend the one that stabs you in the back. Dr. Waheed should also join! https://t.co/024Dvn8kb6
— sighpad.m™ (@sipadmohd) January 30, 2016
An open door policy to baaghees who pretend nothing happened on 7/2 doesn't make MDP stronger – only makes it hard to see what it stands for
— AzraNaseem (@Manje) January 30, 2016
The facts don't shift with party shifts. History stands.
— Aishath Velezinee (@Velezinee) January 30, 2016
Additional writing by Zaheena Rasheed