46 days in to this warped world of Waheed as President still astounds me and I remain bewildered at the lengths he has gone to, to legitimise his role in what is no doubt a coup d’etat. Monday was no exception. By-passing the very channels of dialogue – the all party talks – that he himself established in order to resolve this current political crisis, Waheed chose to provoke a showdown between his security forces and thousands of protesters. His ‘address’ to the Majlis was nothing other than the raising of a finger to the significant number of people who not only question the legitimacy of his so called leadership, but the manner in which he got there and what he has done since.
The ‘riyassee bayaan’ to many in the Police, MNDF and the current regime was seen as personal challenge to the very shaky foundations they forcibly built on 7th Feb 2012. They showed with their actions that they were prepared to do anything to prevent MDP Parliamentarians from disrupting the Majlis, in addition to using excessive force against protesters on the street. The rumours of celebration and adulation in the Police and MNDF mess rooms once Waheed was finally able to get out, what I believe was a summary of the actual address on his 3rd attempt, is a reflection of the extent of politicisation and dependence the current leaders of the country’s security institutions have in the maintenance of this illegitimate regime. More than it being distasteful, it is frightening.
It is because of this that it is difficult to justify Police action for the rest of the day as necessary and lawful. By all means, proper action should have been taken against those who were violent, for instance those who threw rocks at VTV, or those who attacked the Police. However, the Police’s job is to protect, not provoke. Some officers on Sosun Magu that day mockingly patted their chests proudly when the song, ‘Bagaavai Ma Kuveri Kuran’ came on, others raised their middle fingers at the crowd, some just randomly sprayed pepper spray into the eyes of people who weren’t even resisting their orders, others told those being detained, that they would do whatever they want to them. Furthermore, the ripping down of posters and painting over graffiti depicting police brutality did not serve to reassure people of the priorities of the Police. These days it feels like the Police/MNDF/Waheed are all out to prove that the wishes of the people really are irrelevant. Be it in the question of an election, implementing proper law enforcement procedures, or even in the case of congratulating a President. Intimidation, threats and demands are the name of the game.
I have tried and tried to get my head around why Waheed would do this, why he would go along with this farce of a government, why he would collude with the very people who beat, abused and tortured his and his wife’s family and friends? It cannot be in the interest of national unity – for the nation has never been so fractured. It cannot be to uphold his constitutional duty – for in that case should he not be implementing a MDP manifesto with a MDP cabinet? It cannot be as he said by twitter ‘because he’s trained his whole life for this’ – for there is no glory in this moment.
In the last month and half, Waheed and Co. have only carried out the ceremonial functions of the state. Swearing in, addressing the Parliament, orchestrated meet and greets and obnoxious tweeting. If only he would realise that the chances of him holding onto even a shred of credibility – aside from within the UN world – remains in his ability to distance himself from the old guard, and agreeing to hold elections within this year. Alas, the fear is that Waheed is too far gone. His strings are held too tightly in the grasp of those surrounding him, and it seems his want to shake them off is non-existent. Good luck to us.