Thursday, 26 February 2015

In a sling

Nguồn tin:

Nasheed: down but not yet out

HIS arm wrapped in a makeshift sling symbolised the bruised state of Maldivian democracy. Mohamed Nasheed, a former president, was injured on February 23rd as police dragged him to court for a trial on charges of terrorism. The case is a blatantly political effort against the popular opposition leader.

The charges concern Mr Nasheed’s decision as president three years ago to seek the detention of a troublesome judge. Prosecutors call that an effort to spread terror and say Mr Nasheed should spend up to 15 years behind bars. This looks bizarre. In fact Mr Nasheed himself became the only obvious victim of the fracas over the judge, when threats by security forces got him to quit in 2012. It was, in effect, a coup.

A powerful clique, including the judiciary, looks out to hobble Mr Nasheed, who was the Maldives’ first ever elected president and remains a popular, liberal figure. In 2013, when he took a big early lead in new presidential elections, judges repeatedly postponed subsequent voting, as violence simmered. Eventually Mr Nasheed narrowly lost and conceded.

The Maldives promotes itself as a haven for tourists. Locals see its unhappier side: sullen, conservative Islamists and mafia-like gangs that prosper by smuggling heroin and alcohol. For three decades a dictator presided: Maumoon Abdul Gayoom locked up Mr Nasheed a score of times. Now the former dictator’s half-brother, Abdulla Yameen, fronts the government. Jailing Mr Nasheed smacks of the old dictator’s methods.

Why risk making a martyr of him? The government is jittery, and turning on opponents is its knee-jerk response. Mohamed Nazim, defence minister until recently, has also been arrested, accused of plotting a coup. In December two Supreme Court judges were sacked.

Opposition is coalescing. Mr Nasheed’s party and a former rival have recently started working together. Nightly street protests take place in Male, the capital. A big one is due on February 27th. Public anger lingers over the abduction, perhaps murder, of a young journalist last August.

An MP in Mr Nasheed’s party, Eva Abdulla, says that the president is losing his grip. She calls those in office a “gang of thugs”—one minister led a mob of stick-wielding men through Male. In the long run, she thinks, the harassment will only strengthen the democratic opposition. Foreign criticism gets louder, and a planned visit next month by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, looks in doubt. Mr Yameen just wants to hang on, and is turning to other friends—he planned to fly to Pakistan this week. The long run can wait.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh



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