Our time has come
A.S.I. Moosa (Sappe'), Editor-in-Chief, Dhivehi Observer, 24 February 2008
After nearly 30 years of wilting in the flames of brutality and injustice, today our small nation is at a crucial juncture – that of breaking away these chains of autocratic rule and breathe in the free air of democracy. The Maldives Dictator, Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, is no longer the strong man he once was, who had shackled us for so long in slavery. People do not fear him anymore and he no longer has at his disposal the propaganda machines that kept him in power year after year. We now have the chance of realising the dream that we so longed for. Let us not lose this moment; let us grip it with both our hands and take those final few steps to fulfilment.
It took a tragic event to wake us up from our sleep. The brutal murders of Evan Naseem and his colleagues in Maafushi jail in September 2003 was the moment that shocked this nation and made us realize that the time has come to rise up from our slumber. It is now time to raise our country from the morass of corruption and cruelty and to bring social justice and freedom to our people. Then and now, the only obstacle in our path remains, the true source of what is untenable in our present situation - the aging and demented dictator of the Maldives. But, with unity, determination and huge sacrifices, we are now on the path to liberate ourselves and reach the destination we always wanted – a free and democratic Maldives built on social justice. On this one-way street, full of obstacles and pitfalls, our fledgling democratic movement has matured and developed into a powerful political entity. We are now ready to deliver what we promised to the nation. Our time has come.
Choosing a presidential candidate for the party is the final act of sacrifice for our members. It is a sacrifice because we have to put aside our alliances and friendships, our family connections and patronages, our office colleagues and business partnerships, in order to choose the right candidate for the upcoming Presidential elections,- someone who would uphold those values we have so hard fought for. In this process, some are worried that it may lead to divisions within the party. But do not let our enemies weaken the foundation stone of our party – true democracy. It is this doctrine that would hold us together, even as we discuss, debate, and dissect the strengths and weaknesses of the various candidates so that we may choose the right person for the job. Be assured, we will not hand anything to anyone on a golden platter.
To the outside world, to our opponents, to those waiting to crush the democracy movement, this may seem like we are divided and weak. They would try their best to portray it as such. But do not let this deviate us from the task ahead. Do not for a moment hesitate for fear of being depicted by others as a party segregated into factions. Unlike the Dictator, who declared himself the DRP candidate unilaterally, we will leave no questions unasked and no stones unturned to find the right person. We will deliberate among ourselves with brutal honesty as to who deserves our support. We will give the candidates their toughest time in this movement yet so that each and everyone of us can judge for ourselves who would be the best among us to lead this country. This is the bedrock of a democratic process. This is what we owe to the rest of Maldives. This would be MDP's finest hour.
For those willing to put themselves in the firing line, this is the time to show their devotion to the cause and that is to bring liberal democracy to the Maldives and remove the roadblock to a free Maldives - Dictator Gayyoom, and to hold him accountable to what he did to the people of Maldives. And, to do that, we need a charismatic leader who puts the interest of the Maldivian people before his own. We demand a leader who would treat each and everyone of us as human beings, protecting our rights. We want a visionary leader, who can deliver the pledges made in our party manifesto. It must be a person who would be willing not just to lay the cornerstone of a better life of opportunity, freedom and prosperity for all of us, but someone willing to build that life for his people with his own sweat and blood, leading from the front. It must be a person who would get rid of this quicksand of nepotism, cronyism and corruption and lead us on to a solid rock of equality for all.
We have lived for 30 years on a land of poverty and deprivation in the midst of a vast sea of prosperity, which has been denied to most of us. Now we are at the first light of dawn break. We can see the sails of freedom in the horizon. Let us together ensure that the ship of hope reaches land safely. The day that we have all been waiting for is here – the day when we can get rid of Dictator Gayyoom and light the beacon of true democracy in the Maldives forever. Let us make certain that it is a happy and blessed day for all Maldivians.
To this end, we hope fondly and we pray fervently.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004