Coffee with Bakuree

A Maldivian opposition activist speaks of hope, humour, and the non-violent path back to democracy.

Bakuree and I sat in a café on the waterfront, less than thirty feet from the ocean. Insistent waves raced in from the east, depositing surfers just before the coral reef and water just before people's front doors. This would have been a unique spot in most places – but not in Male. One of around 1200 islands, Male is the capital of the Maldives, 99 percent of whose territory is comprised of water. Nearly one-third of the nation's 330,000 people squeeze into Male's two square miles, making it the fourth most densely populated island on earth. The five km road ringing this unique capital is home to countless establishments such as this one, where we met to discuss what some have called a 'unique coup'. 

On 7 February 2012, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, resigned after a night of confusion in Male. The following day, Nasheed declared that his hand had been illegally forced. Confusion turned to heated confrontations on the streets of the capital, and radiated out to the other 191 inhabited islands. These events thrust Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) back into the opposition – a position from which it had spent the better part of a decade agitating for democracy before landmark multi-party elections in 2008.

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Himal Southasian