Sunday, April 18, 2010

President’s office snaps back at VP: Says Executive is no “log of wood” to shoulder equally

Press Secretary for the President’s Office snapped back at Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed saying “the Executive is not a log of wood” for the President and the Vice President to shoulder equally, after the latter publicly said he was not “consulted” over government matters calling Nasheed administration “a single man running the show.”

He [the Vice President] is suggesting it is dictatorship again under President Mohamed Nasheed “as if the Executive was a log of wood to carry with which the President should shoulder one end and the VP should be allowed to shoulder the other,” Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair told the Asian Tribune.

On April 12, Dr. Waheed appeared on the Hoonu Gondi (Hot Seat) show on VTV and lamented the fact that though being the Vice President, he is not “consulted” over government matters and he not satisfied in the job.

Later, he told media that the Nasheed administration is still a “one man running the show” like it used to be under President Gayoom.

The “way we function in [this] government is not too different to what it used to be. It’s still one man running the show,” he was quoted as saying in Minivan news.

But Zuhair said Dr. Waheed’s comments that the “country runs like before as single party rule is misleading and deliberate political prevarication as it also suggests that there is no pluralism in the Maldives.”

“No one can actually refute that the political system had completely changed here, that there are multiple parties, independent institutions, so there cannot be a dictatorship,” he said.

The Press Secretary called the Vice President’s comments “pure phantasmagoria which can only be aimed at the public” hoping to persuade some to believe him.”

Asked if President Nasheed is not concerned when his Vice President says he is not happy in the job, Zuhair said: “The President has commented that he would extend serious consideration to the VP’s recent remarks.”

According to Zuhair, Dr. Waheed’s comments are rather “political” aimed at the public and not at the President.

“As the nature of the VP’s remarks were entirely political there is also a misconception that they were aimed at the government. However they were aimed at the public,” he argued.

He [Dr. Waheed] mooted greater participation for coalition parties - - that they participate fully in the government, during the VTV show.

However, Vice President Dr. Waheed is a professional with a Masters in Education Planning and has held key positions in the field of education globally.

He has worked as UNICEF Head of Education in Tanzania, as a Senior Advisor at UNICEF Headquarters in New York and UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for South Asia and Acting Regional Director based in Nepal, amongst many positions held.

Dr. Waheed also noted that his experience in the education sector is not fully tapped by the government.

Waheed’s political party, the Gaumee Ithihad (National Unity) tied up with the then MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed in 2008, becoming his running mate.

However the party failed to win a single seat in Parliament in the May 2010 general elections.

And Zuhair queried as to “how can a coalition partner demand a bigger share in the government when they lack support even for a single MP?”

The Gaumee Ithihad got “negligible public support” during the vote, he said.
Yet he said the Vice President is being consulted “over and above the Constitutional requirement.”

“The Constitution does not sanction the President to divide his executive duties and responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the President to safeguard this important feature in the Constitution.”

“The President is the one and only Head of the Executive and State,” Zuhair explained.

Articles 117 and 122 of the Constitution deals with the responsibilities of the Vice President. It sauys “The Vice President shall exercise such responsibilities and powers of the President as are delegated to him by the President.”

Dismissing Dr. Waheed’s comments on lack of consultation, Zuhair noted “the VP attends daily executive meetings, all weekly cabinet meetings, his party’s ministers work and contribute to the government and attend Cabinet meetings.”

Dr. Waheed’s party has two ministers, two state ministers and number of other political appointees in the government.

“So there are consultations happening all the time in the government, over and above the Constitutional requirement as there is the political element of his own party’s politicians in the government. “

He said “an appeal for any more consultation would be political, outside the parameters of the VP’s role in the Constitution,” adding “the additional engagement would only mean with his party, which is directly related to garnering more public support.”


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