In November 2013, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom was elected the president of the Maldives following the alleged “televised coup” of the first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed. Two years and nine months into his rule, politically isolated Yameen now fears ouster by the opposition forces by led the Maldives United Opposition (MUO).
As the MUO leaders reached Colombo on August 25, speculations over the ‘removal plot’ mounted through a report by BBC- which attributing to its sources- claimed that the “tiny island nation are looking to move against him within weeks.”
MUO’s poster boy and ex-President Nasheed was reportedly present in Colombo to take part in “an important sit-down” to analyse the political situation and strategise on crisis.
Jumping the gun, a government spokesman, whom the news agency did not name, confirmed the attempts of ‘legally’ overthrowing the government with a disclaimer that it would be a “clear breach of international norms.”
“As in every democracy it is the people, via the ballot, who will decide who will next take office,” said the spokesman as quoted by BBC.
And soon, a few loyal leaders of Yameen, spoke candidly about shielding the government from the expected coup d’état.
“We are keeping a close watch on the political landscape. The military and government offices are connected. The army will not allow a transfer of power,” he said in a televised meeting on the state broadcaster TVM two days after arresting four soldiers for allegedly conspiring to overthrow Yameen.
Earlier this month, eight soldiers were also detained on the similar charges, some also had their phone confiscated and are under investigation by MNDF.
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The MNDF had earlier barred its soldiers from socialising or meeting with politicians, including ministers, and foreigners without permission to prevent feared attempts of toppling the government.
Ruling MP Ahmed Nihan also sending out a clear message to the opposition said, “Even if a gun is held to President Yameen’s head and he is ordered to sign a resignation letter, he will not sign it, even if he falls dead.”
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted Yameen’s spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab confirming the political developments as well and alleging a conspiracy with the help of “external forces” which the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) refuted.
But, the party did verify that the opposition leaders were in Colombo to work out strategies to legally topple Yameen, according to AFP.
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The hatch to oust Yameen that has been on MUO’s agenda since its formation in June, intensified parallely at a time when Yameen is under scanner once again for corruption in oil sales to Myanmar dating a decade ago.
The amount of corruption is $800 million.
Also accusing Yameen and his associates of receiving kickbacks from government owned islands, Nasheed told The New York Times, “President Yameen is very, very corrupt, and all the evidence is available. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Government rejected the allegations and called it ploy by “political rivals”. Yameen’s spokesman Sihab defend the government by saying that Yameen never sold oil to Myanmar during his tenure and dismissed receiving illegal payments via oil deals or land deals.
A documentary titled “Stealing Paradise” announced by Doha-based Al Jazeera that claims to reveal ‘mass corruption, theft and abuse of power in the Maldives’ also coincides with the opposition’s headway.
Downplaying the allegations and criticism, Yameen’s supporters accused MUO of jealousy and hailed him for his “successful development agenda” under #HealingParadise.
The supporters of Yameen even accused opposition of being close to the colonial powers as MUO’s top leadership- Nasheed along with former Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and MDP Chairman Ali Waheed- were granted asylum by the British government.
Yameen is already reeling under international pressure to step down for abuse of power, flouting human rights and stifling dissent during his regime.
He has also alienated himself from the top political leadership including the longest ruling dictator, half-brother and mentor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Most of his cabinet ministers – who now have representation in MUO- have been jailed or sacked, while some chose to resign due to his “dictatorial” attitude.
While former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and former Defence Minister Ahmed Nazim were jailed, former Vice President Ali Waheed was impeached; former Home Minister Umar Naseer and former Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon chose to resign.