‘Power lies with the people,’ opposition leader reminds Maldives amid overthrow reports

Former vice president Jameel (R) pictured with his former boss president Yameen. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

Former vice president Jameel (R) pictured with his former boss president Yameen. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

Opposition alliance leader Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed Friday hit-back at government criticism of the opposition by insisting that the real power lies with the people and not president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

When asked what his message to the Maldivian people is in the wake of rumours of an imminent opposition move to oust president Yameen, the former vice president said the people vote to elect a “sincere and honest” leader.

If a leader fails to be that for the people, the power always remains with the voters, the self exiled Maldives United Opposition (MUO) leader added.

“Every president is a servant of the people. A president comes to office with a lot of promises. He stays in a house given by the people and is given a salary from taxpayers money. People elect their leader in the hope that he would not take the path of corruption and would remain sincere to the task he is entrusted with,” Jameel said.

BBC had reported of an imminent opposition move against president Yameen.

The British public service broadcaster quoted sources saying the opposition plans to move against the president “within weeks.”

According to the BBC report, details of what is being planned remain obscure but the government has described it as a “formal attempt at ‘legally’ overthrowing the government”.

The report comes in the wake of an imminent opposition led sit-down in neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed currently living in exile in Britain has reportedly flown in for the meeting.

According to reliable sources, Nasheed has flown to Sri Lanka to take part in ‘an important sit-down over the present crisis in the Maldives.’

However, reports indicate that Jameel who had recently been granted political refugee status by Britain would also join the talks in Sri Lanka.

The Indian Ocean archipelago adopted multi-party democracy in 2008 after three decades of rule by Yameen’s half brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

But it has been gripped by turmoil since its first democratically-elected leader Nasheed was toppled in 2012 in what he claims was a coup.

Nasheed, whose jailing last year on terror charges has been widely criticised by the West, has since secured political asylum in Britain after travelling there for medical treatment while on prison leave.

Opposition parties, some of which had opposed Nasheed earlier, have united in their campaign against Yameen.

The newly formed MUO had vowed to oust Yameen and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

The MUO has brought together the MDP, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

In a bid to thwart the opposition efforts, Yameen has looked to tighten his grip on power by introducing a series of controversial legislation pushed through the government controlled parliament.

A strict defamation law has come in to force, with stiff punishments for comments or actions considered insulting to Islam or which “contradict general social norms”, which was quickly followed by tighter restrictions on demonstrations in the capital Male.

The death penalty is also being reintroduced, after a 60-year unofficial moratorium. The moves have drawn criticism from the UN, the UK, the EU and the US.

Yameen who has been repeatedly linked to the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the archipelago has also instigated a series of purges of the security forces in his three-year tenure.

Most recently, several soldiers were detained inside the military headquarters before being released last week.

Sources within the military say that four soldiers have been detained inside the military headquarters including a soldier named Fathah who was in security detail of Nasheed’s spouse, Laila Ali.

Police launched a criminal investigation into some of the soldiers, shortly after they were released.

The arrests come in the wake of the defence ministry barred soldiers from meeting politicians and foreign diplomats.

MNDF had said soldiers are barred from meeting ministers, lawmakers, political appointees, candidates seeking public office, political party leaders and political activists without prior permission from a senior military official.

The ban also extends to foreign diplomats, officers of foreign armies and other foreign representatives

Soldiers have also been barred from social gatherings attended by politicians and foreigners.

 

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