Maldivian President Waheed Hasan Manik continued to wait in a room adjoining the People's Majlis (Parliament) late on Thursday, even as supporters of the former President, Mohamed Nasheed, prevented the Speaker from entering Parliament.
The session was expected to convene at 10 a.m. One source said the seats of the President and the Speaker were removed by MPs belonging to Mr. Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party. The session can commence only with the President's address after the Speaker declares Parliament convened. Parliament has to discuss election dates.
Trouble began after Mr. Nasheed resigned as President on February 7. The next day he said he was ousted in a coup, and has since been pressing for early elections. Following an India-brokered deal, all parties to the conflict agreed that they would meet and set an election date.
Outside Parliament, MDP supporters clashed with police and kept pushing towards the Majlis. Many sustained injuries.
The new drama comes barely a day after the Indian Foreign Secretary talked to the intransigent factions and secured the agreement of the major sides on a common minimum agenda.
Now, both the MDP and the government have found in India a new punching bag. Both have criticised India of interference.
“Since both the people are criticising us, it means that we are being impartial as we have promised to be,” said a senior Indian official.
India has made it clear that the Maldivian Constitution was paramount, not individuals. Dr. Waheed's missteps, such as appointing as a Minister the daughter of the former President, Maumoon Gayoom, who ruled with an iron hand, has not gone down well with India.
MDP men outside the Majlis and its representatives inside are insisting that Mr. Nasheed address the Majlis first. Mr. Nasheed, who stands to lose the most if the current protest momentum dips, said “all MDP supporters will act peacefully and are merely intent on expressing their right to protest and to deliver a message to [President] Dr. Mohamed Waheed: that democracy must be restored to The Maldives and that is only possible through early, free and fair elections. We call on the authorities, including the police, to similarly act within the confines of the law and to treat protesters with respect and dignity — as fellow citizens.”
Keywords: Maldives crisis