President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih: simply a symbolic president?

The people of the Maldives have said no to the autocratic regime that was formerly in power, and entrusted the governance of the nation to an exemplary leader. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is well-liked by the people for his wise intelligence and calm nature. Unlike former presidents, President Solih has been assuring the public that would implement good governance in the nation, and has successfully proven his commitment to his promise in the past few months of his administration. Due to his commitment and dedication to the country and its people, we can no longer label President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as a 'symbolic' president.

"He [Ibahim Mohamed Solih] is not a symbolic president. He is the leader of the Republic of Maldives. There is no authoritative figure above him in this nation", said a newly elected MP of the parliament.

Just like President Solih is an exemplary leader and president, main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party is also an exemplary political party. Having experienced the sweetness and bitterness that comes with the rise and fall of political power first hand, the party has remained true to their beliefs without faltering, both during times of success and in failure. This became especially evident with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on the MDP PG Group prior to his presidency.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has always possessed and maintained poise and dignity, even during several ugly political confrontations and scandals. His cool and calm demeanor and excellent conduct bagged him the candidacy for the presidential election, well-received and accepted among his party members.

However, the scene unfolding before us today shows close friends of the president exhibiting some amount of jealousy and envy toward President Solih's presidency.

Let us go back a few months in time.

There were several delays in deciding a candidate who would represent MDP in the parliamentary election due to a certain political leader's desire to be elected as the president again. However, once President Solih was nominated as a presidential candidate, there were no further hesitations. He was immediately approved, although the decision was a difficult one for the party.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, until the very last moment did not give up hope of being re-elected as president, relentlessly working towards figuring out a way to qualify for candidacy. The situation at hand did not allow him to run for presidency. In the end, he was forced to field president Solih in the election as "Option 2".

Former president Mohamed Nasheed's contribution towards the presidential campaign of his long-time friend Ibrahim Mohamed Solih can best be described as mediocre. Moreover, President Solih's campaign was hurt most by the actions of President Nasheed, which resulted in people who had considered voting for Solih changing their minds due to Nasheed's arrogant speech.

Some members of the party still schemed to make President Solih an interim president if elected. They plotted to establish an interim government, and conduct a second election mid-term to elect Nasheed as the president. However, this strategy did not work, and the plans slowly subdued due to the strong political character displayed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih after being elected.

President Solih is well aware of how much the people of the nation desire a 'People's government'. The plans of an interim government faded into the background, and support for the president to be granted opportunity to complete his five-year term as president grew louder and stronger due to the President's excellent character and conduct. "Parliamentary system will only be established in the Maldives if the President approves" - this statement was soon uttered by the insatiable MDP leader who had always been vocal in his desire to establish a parliamentary system in Maldives.

While the first hundred days of President Solih's administration have now passed, not much festivities were organized to celebrate its success. What is being witnessed instead are attempts to portray Nasheed as the true president and leader of Maldives. What we are witnessing are attempts to sideline President Solih as a 'symbolic president'.

During the parliamentary campaign, Nasheed, who has no position in the government, made several promises to the people on behalf of the government. Nasheed, who holds no authoritative position in the government, made promises of housing projects and other major projects.

Political experts say it is no surprise that Nasheed announced to international media that the Maldives follows an 'India-first policy'. The declaration is an intentional move to showcase his dominance in the Maldivian government to the world, they explained.

'Its purpose is to give a message as to where the true powers of the nation lies; it is intended to show that President Solih is just a figurative leader", said the expert.

President Nasheed has the power to portray President Solih as a symbolic figure. In contrast, he also possesses the most influential power to portray Solih as a 'people's president'. However, it is safe to say the current circumstance does not complement this.

It is a well-known fact, and believed by most people to be true, that Nasheed had attempted to sabotage the ruling coalition during the parliamentary election.

"He [Nasheed] continued to criticize Jumhooree Party, Gasim Ibrahim and Maumoon with the intent of sabotaging the coalition', said a politician.

The current situation, where MDP has secured super majority of the parliament could mean that the powers of the president may be undermined through the parliament. Rumors are the party is establishing a special committee to create and implement the government's policies. This could just be the beginning of a bid to strip the president of his powers.

It is hard to say whether the parliament is currently under the control of President Solih or former President Nasheed. It will only become clear when the votes are taken to decide who will head the parliament as the Speaker. Even if the vote taken among the MDP PG group is in secret, it would soon become clear during the voting stage in the parliament, while it is a well-known 'secret' that Nasheed is working to take control of the parliament by appointing a loyal and faithful Speaker, or more appropriately, a 'puppet'.

The people voted and elected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the president of the Maldives for a five year term. Looking back on the past few months of administration, there is no opportunity or reason to doubt President Solih's competence as a president. Therefore, President Nasheed should allow President Solih the opportunity to govern the nation for the full capacity of the five year term, with the full powers and choices assured for a president.

The party charters of MDP state that the highest authoritative figure of the party is now President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Therefore, it is high time that President Nasheed steps aside and stops exhibiting himself as the "front" man of the party with his unnecessary speech.

Even the adversaries of President Solih in the political field will agree on one thing: President Solih is a 'smart' politician. This proves that President Solih possesses the power to change the image that his presidency is simply symbolic.

While the country was busy naming former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, former president Mohamed Nasheed and politician Gasim Ibrahim as the top political leaders of the nation, two new players entered the game: Former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and incumbent president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. President Yameen governed the country with tyranny and despotism, while President Solih is doing the exact opposite: he is governing the country with love, as a true "peoples president". His mild mannerism may just convert Nasheed's loyal followers to President Solih, some political experts foresee.

The political situation of the country is now at a very interesting cross road at this point in President Solih's presidency. Although the lack of a strong opposition is a major concern, no doubt, the biggest concern at this point would be the efforts to undermine President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as a symbolic president alone.


President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is definitively and unquestionably the true President of the Maldives.