The need to put interest of the nation before that of the party and individual


I would like to avail of your column to extend a special welcome to H.E. Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives, who is to be the guest of honour at the official opening of the 2011 Jeux des Iles this evening.

President Nasheed’s rise to presidential office carries a story that should be of interest to the people of Seychelles at this period of relative bi-partisan turmoil in our country.
In December 2005 I received an invitation from the Maldivian Democratic Party (then in Opposition) to deliver a keynote address at their Annual Convention in Male.

At that time the political situation in the Maldives was very tense with Mr Mohamed Nasheed under house arrest at the pleasure of the then President Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

As I wanted to do everything correctly and with full respect for the prevailing structure of State in the Maldives, I notified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seychelles that I had accepted the invitation of the Maldivian’s Democratic Party to address their Convention but that I would like Foreign Affairs to organise for me to pay a courtesy call on President Gayoom during the course of my visit.

When I arrived in Male, I was afforded VIP facilities and informed that President Gayoom would gladly receive me the day before the Democratic Party’s Convention.

When I met President Gayoom I told him that he should not see my visit as someone who had come to interfere in Maldivian partisan politics but more as a friend of the Maldivian people interested in promoting national reconciliation in their sadly divided Nation. I appealed to President Gayoom that as a demonstration of goodwill towards my national reconciliation proposals, he should allow Mr Nasheed to attend his party’s convention.
President Gayoom agreed to my request.

When Mr Mohamed Nasheed arrived at the Convention Hall, the applause he received clearly confirmed his popularity as leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party.

My address to the Convention focused on the need to put the interest of the Nation before the interest of the Party and before the interest of the individual.

“The process of National Reconciliation is an attempt to bring forth as high a level of national cohesion as possible so that united as a people, the Maldivians can seek what is best for the Nation and not just what is best for the Party. It is obvious that political division has deprived the nation with the opportunity of reaching a higher plateau of national grandeur and prestige.  It is therefore a question of either continuing to swim in a lake of mediocrity or seek to swim in a lake with a larger and better vista,” I concluded.
I received warm congratulatory messages from both President Gayoom and his Government and Mr Nasheed and his party before I left their beautiful archipelago.

Some two years later I was attending an international conference in Belgrade when I received an invitation from Mr Nasheed to attend his swearing-in ceremony as the new President of the Maldives.

Indeed a lot for us to reflect upon.

Welcome President Nasheed. May God continue to guide you in these challenging times.

James R. Mancham

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