Thursday evening marks the beginning of the weekend in Islamic Maldives. Not so for Waheed Hassan, President with the shortest possible honeymoon ever. At the most, he has a few weeks to put Maldives back on track. So, he wasted no time.
He began effecting changes to run the administration from Wednesday.
His first job was to appoint Home and Defence Ministers. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was given the Home Affairs while Mohamed Nazim was made the Minister of Defence and National Security. They were told to resolve the situation, implement laws according to the Constitution and treat every citizen equally. Both the new Ministers had fallen foul of the earlier regime, and are also considered anti-India. The Home Minister had brought out a handbook against the Indian private sector company that is in charge of Male Airport, GMR. Also, the new police chief was dismissed by the Nasheed government when he was deputy police chief. All this suggest that while walking the proverbial tight rope in balancing demands, Dr. Waheed is also not averse to employing talent that is not universally acceptable.
After consultations with his new colleagues, he appointed Ahmed Shiyam as head for the defence forces. Mr. Shiyam was told that his first priority was to protect and safeguard peace and security. Stressing on the importance of the media, he appointed a secretary to coordinate his relations with it. His meeting with representatives of political parties have been continuing through the day and late into the night since he assumed power.
Amid these changes, he met Indian High Commissioner to The Maldives, Duyaneshwar Mulay; British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka who is concurrently accredited to The Maldives John Rankin; UNDP Resident Representative Andrew Cox and many others. He is to meet a U.N. team on Friday and Robert O' Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, on Saturday.
As a U.N. official (with the UNICEF), Dr. Waheed worked in the most exacting of circumstances in Myanmar and Afghanistan. He has been a Member of Parliament in Maldives since 1998 and has shown he could work with people of varying backgrounds, temperaments and dispositions.
“There is no better person suited for the job,” said a senior diplomat in Male when asked about Dr. Waheed. The question that many ask is if he will be able to deliver in such an abnormal circumstance.
Dr. Waheed's legacy will be written taking into account what he does over the next few days. As the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said in reply to a debate on The Maldives and Somalia in the House of Commons: “It is for the new leadership to establish its legitimacy with its own people and with the international community with an independent review of the circumstances leading to what has happened earlier this week, and we hope that the new leadership will demonstrate its respect for the rule of law, including peaceful demonstrations.”