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Maldives: democracy, back in transition mode? May 15, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, Maldives , comments closed

N. Sathiya Moorthy

With the People’s Majlis, or Parliament, clearing President Mohammed Waheed Hassan’s vice-presidential nominee, Waheed Deen, after the “majority” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) group stayed away, the Indian Ocean archipelago seems to be back in democratic transition, for the second time in three years. A new element has been added this time, with a National Inquiry Commission (NIC) probing the circumstances surrounding the resignation of then MDP President Mohammed Nasheed and his succession by Vice-President Waheed. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has given the Waheed Government four weeks in which to make the probe team credible.

The last time the Maldives went through a similar phase, the nation ushered in multi-party democracy after 30 years of one-person rule under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He was elected for six successive terms of five years each, under a constitutional scheme that provided for only a single candidate in national elections. That is firmly in the past, yet, the Nasheed resignation has left a situation of instability. His subsequent charges of a coup-cum-conspiracy, involving some in the uniformed services and “discredited sections” of the polity, and the fact that fresh presidential polls are still a year or so away, in November 2013, have all given rise to the question of whether democracy is really back in transition mode in the Maldives.

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Maldives: putting democracy back on track February 23, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, Maldives , comments closed

Guest author: N. Sathiya Moorthy

First published in Future Directions International on 15 February 2012

A week after President Mohammed Nasheed resigned, to be succeeded by his Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, Maldives is limping back to normality. Hassan is to complete the residual part of Nasheed’s five-year term, ending November 2013. The deep political divisions remain, and the wounds of the previous week’s events have left a bad taste in the mouths of the people at large, and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) cadres in particular. All now need to take stock of the recent developments with equanimity and arrive at solutions for the medium- and long-term good of the nation.

Nasheed’s sudden resignation had been preceded by a series of events, not just over the previous weeks, as is often being said now, in a reference to the ‘protect Islam’ call by the ‘December 23 Coalition’ launched by religious NGOs, to which desperate Opposition political groups, whose egos were matched only by the personal ambitions of their leaders, tagged along. It had commenced as early as mid-2010, when the parliamentary polls threw up a minority for the President’s party.

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China-India rivalry in Maldives set to intensify June 12, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, Maldives , comments closed

Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article first appeared here in Future Directions International

Background

The 28-31 May visit to Maldives by the most senior Chinese official ever to visit the Islamic archipelago-nation went largely unreported in the Western media. The significance of the visit by Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, underscored the increasing importance of Maldives to China’s regional strategic calculations.

Comment

China and Maldives first established diplomatic relations in 1972. Since then, relations have gradually developed. More recently, Indian policy analysts referred to China’s soft power rise throughout South Asia as a “creeping expansionism”. They went so far as to accuse China of harbouring ambitions to set up a submarine base facility in Maldives.

For instance, in 2005, Indian commentator, A.B. Mahapatra, asserted that:

“China has engineered a manner of a coup by coaxing Maldives’ Abdul Gayoom government to let it establish a base in Marao. Marao is one of the largest of the 1192 coral islands grouped into atolls that comprise Maldives and lies 40 km south of Male, the capital. Scientists warn that global warming is pushing up ocean and sea levels. They fear that most of Maldives will be submerged by year 2040. Marao may be one of the few large islands that may survive. ‘And even if it goes under water’, said a naval official, ‘it will be ideal for submarines.’ In February 2001, a small delegation from Pakistan visited Maldives to boost cultural ties. ‘The Pakistanis put pressure on Male to facilitate Chinese plans for a naval base’, said an official. ‘China used Pakistan to play the Islamic card with Maldives.’ But the Marao base is not expected to be operational until 2010.”

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