Alas, Anni has resigned. The former democracy campaigner against an implacable dictator implausibly became President. Then, almost as quickly, he fell, largely to forces of the former dictator, and his own fractured opposition. Anni actually used to hang out in Colombo talking about regime change and we kinda laughed at him. Then he somehow won the 2008 election. Now, just as surprising, he’s been forced out in what looks like a soft coup.
I asked a friend in the Dives. They support Anni, FYI. According to him, people were playing the Islamist card against Anni, saying that he wasn’t a Muslim and wanted to bring churches to the officially Muslim Maldives. This blew up during the SAARC summit when they douchebaggily destroyed statues from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, etc, saying that they promoted ‘idol worship’. I think this was all a transparent attempt to destabilize the elected government by using any means necessary, including riling up religious bullshit.
What then happened was essentially a coup, with mutinying police taking control of the state broadcaster and refusing to break up demonstrators in favor of Gayoom. Rather than using force to confront them, Anni stood down.
To many Maldivians I know, this is Anni’s essential weakness. While he drew fire for arresting a judge (who I was told let those destabilizing the government go heedlessly) he never arrested or marginalized Gayoom, a man under whom he was arrested and tortured. Even now he wouldn’t use force, saying “It will be better for the country in the current situation if I resign. I don’t want to run the country with an iron fist. I am resigning.”
Honestly, it’s a damn shame. Anni never ran a strong government, but he did run an elected one. Gayoom seems content to use the police and a coup to take what he wouldn’t win and, in an act that shows Anni’s character (for better and worse), Anni has given the Presidency of the Maldives up.
Reax From The Maldives Blogosphere
Here are some reax from Maldivian bloggers:
Yaamyn is well worth reading in full.
I was watching from a building with a vantage point, seeing the events of the night unfold on the streets below me. When the entire Police force refused to take orders and openly rebelled, I knew it was going to rapidly spiral out of control.
Once that happened, I saw the rioters lose all their fear. Stones and bottles were thrown. Window panes were smashed. Some of the protesters were relentlessly rebuking the armed forces for protecting ‘the Jew’ – and loudly applauding the Police…
I must take the time out to say what I truly feel about President Nasheed.
I haven’t the slightest doubt that he’s a democrat in every sense of the word.
However, he is also more of an activist than a statesmen; more adept at giving populist, rousing speeches than building a national consensus. It is not surprising then that the last few months of the country has seen absolute political polarization – with no willingness on either side to compromise or see eye-to-eye on any issue.
With the success of this coup, the Judiciary shall now instantly revert to being an instrument of political control and protection of the Gayoom clan and their cronies. I also predict that the local Taliban will again get a free run in spreading their hatred and paranoia, meeting even less resistance than the previous government. This is why I chose to use the word ‘treason’ in the title of this post. Traitors will now run our media and judiciary and other institutions.
As with every leadership change in Maldivian history, there’ll be relentless efforts to demonize Anni in the coming days. From being a Zionist spy to a drunkard, he’ll face every accusation.
And yet, despite all the flaws in his government, I sincerely believe that President Nasheed truly had great ambitions of going forward. The average Maldivian, however, insists on regressing. The relationship was bound to fail. (uglyy.blogspot.com)
Also a blog titled Maldives Resort Workers.
During the last three years, Anni seemed to have ears only for the Male’ faction on important policy matters which was probably the undoing of the party. Unpopular issues like licensing liquor sale in inhabited islands were advanced by the MDP’s Male’ faction with probable self interest in the issues. On a personal level, if the cases of bottles of liquor recovered from president’s residence were proved to have been for his Excellency’s consumption, there will be a very slim chance for him to get elected again. (Maldives Resort Workers)
Also Raifu Jameel:
These are some reasons, and many more are there. Yet, the main reason of all was that some members of Maldives Police Service and MNDF joined the opposition for some reason or the other. Without this factor, the protests would have been just like any other protest in Maldives. I maybe standing against the whole public by saying this. Yet I feel sad, a government elected by the people was toppled by with the help of the police and military who are supposed to protect the government and the people. Today if you saw president Nasheed been brought down by the security persons of the nation, I will not be surprised to see many more been brought down the same way. (aliflaamgaaf.com)