Both President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and former President Mohamed Nasheed held press conferences today marking 100 days since the transfer of power.
One hundred days is a traditional point in politics to look back upon the progress of a chief executive and his administration.
President Waheed drew attention to the areas in which his administration had succeeded where the previous one had failed, while Nasheed focused on the damage he felt was being done to the democratic and economic progress made during his time in office.
Waheed told the media that his efforts of the past 100 days had been to “foster greater unity amongst us” after assuming the presidency at a time of great division.
President’s Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza said: “The main achievement is that we have maintained a coalition government for 100 days whilst Nasheed could only do so for 21 days.”
Abbas continued to say that the current government had bettered the record of the previous one by running the country lawfully and making all media “totally free” from government. He also said that the maintenance of all public services one of the Waheed government’s primary achievements.
To the contrary, Nasheed argued that social protection programmes and health insurance were being “disrupted” by the new administration.
President Waheed stated this afternoon that the main issue facing the government was now the economy.
Abbas claimed that Dr Waheed’s government had reduced inflation as well as overall state spending in its first one hundred days. The reported budget deficit of 27 percent was due to Rf3-4 billion hidden from public accounts by Nasheed’s government, he alleged.
“The window dressing of the previous days is now coming out,” Abbas said.
International Spokesman for the MDP, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, argued that the budget deficit, now at around 27 percent of GDP, had been reduced from 40 to 7 percent during Nasheed’s administration.
Nasheed put the figure for the deficit at Rf2.6billion (US$168million) at his press conference.
“Maldivians are concerned and are asking why they have been pushed into destabilisation,” said Nasheed.
Asked what an MDP government would do to bring the deficit down, Ghafoor said that it would stop “unnecessary spending” on things such as allowances for the police and the MNDF, which he claimed have amounted to Rf25 million (US$ 1.6million).
He also stated that the attention of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Committee (CMAG) was affecting investor confidence: “Being on the CMAG agenda is enough to make investors go out the back door.”
“In order to reduce the deficit,” Ghafoor said, “We would bring back our policies.”
Concerning the plight of Maldivian democracy, Nasheed said that the current government is attempting to curtail people’s freedom of expression and assembly. He noted that around 600 of his supporters had been arrested in the past three months.
Waheed said that he had tried to serve the people as well as he could, and that there was still “lots of work to be done to consolidate democracy”.
Nasheed declared that the independence of the CNI had been the greatest achievement of the MDP’s 100 days in opposition, whereas Abbas described “solving the political crisis with the Commonwealth” as one of the major achievements of Waheed’s first 100 days in office.
Both press conferences saw mention of the CNI, which this week appears to have moved towards consensual reforms after pressure from the Commonwealth brought opposing sides closer to agreement on who should sit on the commission.
The CMAG’s strong urgings for changes in the commission’s membership, in order to improve its independence and impartiality, resulted in an agreement with government this week that the CNI be expanded to include an experienced judge from the Commonwealth, to act as co-chair, as well as a further member to be nominated by Nasheed.
As the Commonwealth’s special envoy Sir Donald McKinnon departed, caveats to this arrangement were introduced by the government.
The conditions for Nasheed’s appointee were set as follows: they must not have served in a political position in the past two years, must not have taken a public stand on the transfer of power, and must “be of good behavior and integrity”.
Minivan News is awaiting a response from the Commonwealth as to whether it had endorsed these conditions.
At his press conference, President Waheed said that the issue had now been resolved and he wished to move forward.
Nasheed told those in attendance at Male City Hall that the he now had full confidence in the work of the CNI, which is scheduled to carry out its investigation between June 1 and the end of July.
Previously, the MDP had refused to work with the CNI, partly because of the presence of Ismail Shafeeu, formerly Defense Minister during the Presidency of Maumoon Gayoom.
Nasheed said today that he expected Ismail Shafeeu, currently the head of the commission, to step down before the new set of investigations begin. He said that he expected Ahmed Mujuthaba, currently the convener of the all-party roadmap talks, to replace him.
The government has stated that it will appoint a lawyer to the final place on the board if no suitable appointee is agreed upon by June 1.
Nasheed added that the new terms of reference for the CNI authorised the commission examine phone records, bank account statements, photos, videos, and also to send cases to be prosecuted.
There still remains great potential for discord over the CNI even as both sides profess their satisfaction with the arrangement.
Even as the government’s team met with the Commonwealth representative in Male’, President Waheed was declaring his deep dissatisfaction with the organisation’s actions to the Indian media whilst on an official visit.
A similar dichotomy appears in the statements of the opposition, who have expressed confidence in the new structure of the commission while at the same time making clear their great displeasure at the conditions being imposed upon their nominee.
“The government is being unfairly proscriptive,” said Ghafoor, who argued that the former president did not see any reason why his prospective nominees had been rejected.
The MDP has reported that nine Nasheed nominees have already failed to win the government’s approval.
“Now [the government] wants to decide who will represent Nasheed? This is a bit too much,” said Ghafoor.