A hot, humid and tiring day in the holy month of Ramadan was getting over across Asia. The clouds of Brexit hung over London. It was 9 o’clock at night in New Delhi. 9 PM in Colombo. 4.30 PM in Salisbury, England. 10.30 PM In Thailand, and across the Gulf Of Thailand in Malaysia, it was 11.30 in the night. In the Maldives, it was 8.30 PM in capital Male´ and in Addu, the southernmost tip of the country. Last Thursday, they were all connected via Skype. Their bond – The Maldives. Their cause – Democracy.
So the eight-member delegation of the Maldives United Opposition (MUO) that landed in the Indian capital here on Wednesday night to garner support from its “closest neighbour” India was patching up their laptops with their leadership-in-exile in England – the first democratic president of the country Mohamed Nasheed, MUO Leader Ahmed Jameel Waheed (former vice-president of the country), Deputy Leader Ali Waheed, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed among others teamed up with former United Kingdom MP John Glenn.
Along with a few members from two Maldivian cities, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia, they were online for the third Shadow Cabinet Meeting of the ‘united’ opposition-in-exile.
“We are constantly moving from one country to another and our members are scattered in different countries, this is how we are going to hold this meeting,” Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson told FocusMaldives.com.
Soon, six windows popped in on the laptop screen and all the member began talking in Dhivehi about the day spent in New Delhi with the media, rights group and ruling party leaders to lobby for the proposed transitional government and then proceeded to strategise when and how to organise a mass rally for the much needed grassroots level opposition movement.
On the agenda, hit the cobbled roads of Male’ with a mass protest rally against the incumbent, allegedly ‘autocratic’ government of President Abdullah Yameen, after Ramadan.
It had to be after Ramadan, it was supposed to be around Independence Day and they came up with a date- July 14. The mass rally that will witness Nasheed, Jameel and Waheed speaking to the people of Maldives. Of course, via video conference.
“Many people ask why the United Opposition is not being seen on the streets, because of Ramadan,” Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Naseem said earlier that day.
“We are on streets for last four years, now they (government) have imposed rules and regulations, which we are ready to challenge. We will contest for our rights and hold the rally,” he added.
The meeting was also a part of bigger agenda to ensure that the MUO- the rainbow coalition of all the political rivals or the “victims of President Abdulla Yameen’s dictatorial regime”- gets maximum international support.
The poster boy of climate change and the champion of democracy globally, Nasheed explained what MUO is and what they are striving for through a small video that was soon circulated on United Opposition’s Twitter handle later that evening from Salisbury (Read: later that night in Male’).
Mohammed Nasheed explains the united aspect of the Maldives United Opposition pic.twitter.com/0SFQrM8uLq
— United Opposition (@mvopposition) June 23, 2016
The similar message was sent out by the delegation in New Delhi earlier that day which met media, rights group, friend and ruling BJP leader Ram Madhav but skipped meeting with the government this time around. The MEA did arrange for cars to drop them at the airport 2 days later.
“We want the people of India aware about the situation in Maldives. We met interest groups, advisors from MEA, former ambassadors and journalists who will be at a better position to convince the government about our crisis,” Naseem told FocusMaldives.com.
On being asked why they did not request a meeting with the government, Naseem said this time it was not in their agenda adding that if they requested meeting, they would have certainly met.
“We want to make India comfortable, we are not the government, we are opposition. They are working strategically and we don’t want to jeopardise that,” he said.
Naseem expressed confidence that India- the largest democracy in the world- believes in democracy and will back MUO in reinforcing back the rule of people.
Nasheed also echoed the same confidence in Salisbury and said, “We have done this (bringing democracy back) once, and we are confident that we can do it again.”
The last word came from the captain of the ship, Dr Jameel, who urged “a free and fair election and rise of the people free”.
The delegation of the United Opposition will soon reach USA after a brief stay in London and will engage with “friends” in media there (again before engaging with the government) with a motive to lobby for the “much needed” reform in the paradise island.