The opposition alliance will seize the parliament’s majority from President Abdulla Yameen in the coming days, former President Mohamed Nasheed has declared.
“Our goal is to bring an end to President Yameen’s rule. I urge all party members to dedicate your time to the efforts to remove President Yameen from power,” the opposition leader said in a statement released Monday on the occasion of his Maldivian Democratic Party’s 12th anniversary.
Nasheed said the united opposition is working with a “broad agenda” to restore democracy, bring back the decentralisation system, and ensure the independence of the judiciary, oversight bodies, and the security services.
The opposition alliance has been trying to challenge Yameen’s previously unassailable majority since former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom signed a pact with his former rival Nasheed and other opposition leaders. The alliance failed to remove Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed with defections from the divided ruling party in late March, but senior opposition figures have signalled that the balance of power in the 85-member house will shift once the People’s Majlis reopens after the Eid holidays.
In his first public appearance after losing the May 6 municipal elections, Yameen meanwhile contended that the opposition leaders cannot work together because of their adversarial history and desire to regain the presidency. He also questioned the sincerity of their calls for reform and challenged Nasheed and others to return from exile.
Nasheed has been living in exile in the United Kingdom since he was granted medical leave from prison in January 2016. The opposition leader was convicted on a controversial terrorism charge in early 2015.
Nasheed said in his statement today that he needs the opportunity to work freely in the Maldives in order to help the opposition’s cause.
“One of the most important efforts undertaken by the allied parties is to free the prisoners detained for President Yameen’s political purposes and to withdraw politically motivated charges,” he said.
The 50-year-old opposition leader previously said that the MDP would support a candidate from an allied party if he is unable to contest the 2018 presidential election.
In October, Nasheed’s heavyweight international lawyers filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee seeking its intervention to secure his candidacy. He is presently disqualified from seeking office due to the 13-year prison sentence.
His jailing after a rushed trial marred by apparent due process violations was ruled illegal and politically motivated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. But the government rejected the “non-binding opinion” and the supreme court went on to uphold Nasheed’s conviction over the military’s detention of a top judge.
Yameen has previously dismissed Nasheed’s presidential ambitions as futile because he is legally barred from contesting in the 2018 polls.
Nasheed meanwhile went on to congratulate MDP members on the main opposition party’s 12th anniversary. “Maldivians are once again hopeful of a new dawn. The sweet hope that President Yameen’s rule will end, a free election will be held, and a candidate chosen by the party’s members will be able to contest and win,” he said.
Nasheed also suggested that a vision of the MDP’s new manifesto should be seen at the upcoming national congress, adding that he has developed some ideas in the past few years.
“The Maldives is not a small island state. The Maldives is a large ocean state. The Maldives’ economic territory is the same as large countries,” he said.
“The economy of the Maldives derives energy from the riches of the sea. It is a blue economy. A blue economy must function as a ‘circular’ economy where goods consumed is reduced as much as possible.”