Be­yond the Par­adise

Be­hind the façade of wealth and pros­per­ity in the Mal­dives is a story of poverty and ex­ploita­tion where po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity is rife and the com­mon peo­ple con­tinue to suf­fer.

Southasia - - Region - By Irsa Khan

The Mal­dives be­ing a rel­a­tively young democ­racy, it would be ad­vis­able to tread lightly on crit­i­cism for some of the prob­lems that the coun­try cur­rently faces. How­ever, re­cent hap­pen­ings in­di­cate fast lurches from cri­sis to cri­sis. The World Bank de­scribes this as a “de­struc­tive po­lit­i­cal cli­mate” which, if not looked into, “can im­bal­ance all the ef­forts to main­tain a sta­ble econ­omy.”

So, what are the fac­tors af­fect­ing the po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try? Con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis seems to be the driv­ing force be­hind the in­sta­bil­ity, which po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts fear could lead to chaos and po­lit­i­cal de­struc­tion in the Mal­dives if not checked in time.

For one, the Mal­dives has an op­po­si­tion-con­trolled par­lia­ment (ma­jlis) which, with its brute ma­jor­ity, seems to be self-im­pos­ing and is there­fore con­sid­ered as an im­ped­i­ment to the suc­cess of a sta­ble democ­racy. Late last year, the coun­try was put into a cri­sis af­ter the en­tire cabi­net of min­is­ters re­signed in a dis­pute with the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled par­lia­ment, which they claimed con­stantly ob­structed the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tiv­i­ties. The sit­u­a­tion was fu­elled by ac­tions of the op­po­si­tion when it re­jected the nom­i­na­tion of half the cabi­net mem­bers, bring­ing gov­er­nance al­most to a stand­still.

While the Ma­jlis, dom­i­nated by the op­po­si­tion al­liance of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Peo­ple’s Al­liance (PA) was de­ter­mined not to ap­prove the en­tire cabi­net but only a few of their lik­ing, the gov­ern­ment in turn ob­tained an in­junc­tion from the Supreme Court and blocked the se­lec­tive en­dorse­ment of min­is­ters. This led to a se­ries of protests from the op­po­si­tion in the course of which the po­lice had to ar­rest sitting MPs and many cadres of the op­po­si­tion.

Those re­jected in­cluded min­is­ters who were hold­ing im­por­tant port­fo­lios like Home, De­fense, Fi­nance and For­eign Af­fairs. Ob­servers lamented the loss of the best brains that had to quit. There is no doubt that a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis had been cre­ated by the res­ig­na­tion of the whole cabi­net. This was ad­mit­ted by Pres­i­dent Nasheed when he said that his coun­try was fac­ing the big­gest hur­dle in im­ple­ment­ing the con­sti­tu­tion.

In the past months, op­po­si­tion leg­is­la­tors have con­tin­u­ously blocked bills and leg­isla­tive en­act­ments. The con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers lie with the pres­i­dent while the par­lia­ment is the leg­isla­tive body. Both are elected by the pub­lic. Crit­ics of the op­po­si­tion com­plain that the gov­ern­ment has not been able to ef­fec­tively func­tion be­cause of the con­stant ob­struc­tion and in­ter­fer­ence in gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

An­other cri­sis was ig­nited just when the gov­ern­ment was sign­ing an agree­ment to hand over the coun- try’s only air­port to a pri­vate com­pany. The sign­ing cer­e­mony was post­poned three times due to var­i­ous is­sues raised by the op­po­si­tion, which said the air­port should be run by the state. Eco­nomic pun­dits be­lieve such ac­tiv­i­ties hin­der smooth eco­nomic growth of the coun­try.

Per­haps it was this hin­drance only which com­pelled Pres­i­dent Nasheed to clearly state his views on the tur­moil within the coun­try. Ad­dress­ing the nation, and said, “Be­liev­ing a huge ma­jor­ity is with them (the ma­jlis), but through this ma­jor­ity, mem­bers of the par­lia­ment are vi­o­lat­ing the very spirit of the con­sti­tu­tion we are try­ing to im­ple­ment and en­force. This gov­ern­ment was formed to es­tab­lish a sys­tem which lis­tens to the voice of the peo­ple and which ful­fills the needs of the peo­ple ac­cord­ing to their pulse. We did not come to power with the in­tent to do what­ever we would like to but to serve the peo­ple in all their in­ter­est.”

The dis­rup­tion and in­ter­nal fis­sures are hin­der­ing sta­ble democ­racy to flour­ish in the Mal­dives. It is time that such con­sti­tu­tional crises, that are dis­tract­ing the gov­ern­ment from deal­ing with other im­por­tant is­sues, be dealt with strictly. The writer is a com­men­ta­tor on South Asian af­fairs and cov­ers so­cio-legal sub­jects, hu­man rights and po­lit­i­cal is­sues of the re­gion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.