Mahinda in Male to defuse Maldivian political crisis

by Zacki Jabbar in Male


President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in Male yesterday morning on a state visit aimed at, among other things, mediation in the Maldivian political crisis threatening the political survival of President Mohammed Nasheed.

The Maldivian government sources said that the two leaders had met in the afternoon and discussed the strengthening of friendly relations between the two countries.

Sources said: "The talks also centered on the political situation in the Maldives and ways to resolve the issue. President Nasheed thanked President Rajapaksa for accepting his invitation to visit Male, especially at a time when the country was facing political problems."

Asked what Rajapaksa’s response had been, sources said that he had described the Maldives as a friend of Sri Lanka and that there was a duty on the part of his government to assist the Maldives in every possible way.

The Sri Lankan President was also scheduled to meet former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Speaker Abdulla Shahid, and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, later yesterday.

Nasheed’s 13-member Cabinet resigned last week in protest against the Opposition-controlled parliament blocking what it called important legislation.

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party headed by Gayoom is the single largest Opposition party with 28 seats. The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party has 26 seats in the 77-member parliament. 

Gayoom’s brother Abdul Yamin MP and a former Finance Minister Qasim Ibrahim MP, both of whom head smaller Opposition parties, have been placed under house arrest on charges of trying to buy over government MPs to secure a two-thirds majority to impeach President Nasheed.

Under the Maldivian constitution, MPs are free to cross over from the government to Opposition and vice versa. There is no provision for the President to dissolve the legislature before the expiry of its five-year term, which ends on May 9, 2014. Parliamentarians are not eligible to be appointed Cabinet Ministers.

Speaking exclusively to The Island, President Nasheed claimed that the political situation was under control and not as problematic as made out to be.

"It’s not a big problem," he said when reminded that the Maldives was in an unprecedented situation where the government had to function without a Cabinet of ministers.

Asked when a new Cabinet would be appointed and if there would be any fresh faces in the light of last week’s no confidence motion against the Education Minister, which triggered the resignation of the Cabinet en masse, President Nasheed said that the matter could be resolved this week.

"But do not expect any changes or new faces", he added.

The DRP’s chief spokesman Mohammed Shariff said that Nasheed should resign immediately because that was what the people wanted.

President Rajapaksa, on arrival at the Malé Official Jetty around 9 a.m. yesterday morning amidst a light shower, was received personally by President Nasheed. A bugle call was sounded followed by a seven-gun Salute. He inspected a guard of honour thereafter.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, who arrived in Male on Tuesday, also participated in the talks.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...