The Maldivian Democratic Party, which is the largest political party in the Maldives have had the most active members from any party in the country. It has been known to be a pro-democracy force in the country by it’s foreign allies in US, Europe and the United Kingdom. However, some are now questioning if MDP is now really democratic?
In the last Maldives election which MDP had won, it’s leaders seem to have given too much personal guarantees to their newly found political backers in India’s right wing Hindu Nationalist Party.
Most of MDP top leaders are known to be right wing neo-liberals even though half of MDP registered members are known to be practicing Muslims. They have managed to play this double political card very effectively by appealing to their domestic supporters always in local dhivehi language to show their support certain policies that might anger their Western allies. Be it on Twitter, Facebook or on News Channels, they talk about certain topics which might even be against human rights only in local Dhivehi language.
The reason for this strategy which most of MDP leaders have practiced for some time now is that there is rarely any of their political videos that are translated with English subtitles. Allowing them to show a democratic face to their western allies which back their party with much donations, while locally their policies are increasingly against human rights and democratic values.
Recently a video of a MDP Member of Parliament was translated with english subtitles and posted on Twitter. In the video MP Ahmed Saleem who is a close ally with MDP top leaders is seen giving a warning to the Maldives civil servants stating that civil servants “do not have the right to express or write whatever they want”, “they don’t have a voice”, “from the moment they sign the job contract till they die, they should keep their mouth shut”.
Such a broad limitation of freedom of expression as proposed by MP Saleem is incompatible with #Maldives’ obligations to respect freedom of expression under Art 19 of ICCPR. Is MDP seeking to wipe out all civic freedoms in Maldives? @MohamedNasheed @ibusolih @CIVICUSMonitor https://t.co/6WSt27nROG— Ahmed Shaheed (@ahmedshaheed) March 25, 2021
Ironically MP Ahmed Saleem is also the founder of RaajjeTV news channel which is supposed to be the pro-democracy news channel of the country, well at least this is the picture that MDP has promoted for years to their Western allies and foreign news media.
As the Maldivian Democratic Party leaves democracy behind in return for more power and control, the question what is the alternative for their Western pro-democracy allies in the Maldives? Will they find others to support for their democracy project in the Maldives, or will they keep supporting MDP which is now going against the basic values of what democracy even means.