In October 2008, the Maldives held its first multi-party elections, toppling 30-year incumbent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and replacing him with Mohamed Nasheed, a former political prisoner and according to Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) opposition members, rabble-rouser extraordinaire.
Indeed, this is how members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and others connected to the party were and still are viewed: as a mob of uneducated activists who took to the streets in undignified protest. But what few people know is that behind the clamour of MDP as well as those who joined their fight was a well-designed plan.
And behind the plan, there was Canvas – an organisation of trainers and consultants that travel the globe to transfer their skills, knowledge and principles of non-violent struggle. The ideas exported by Canvas were born out of Otpor, a youth movement in Serbia, which has been credited with the bloodless revolution that brought down Slobodan Milosovic.
“Maldives was fourth in line of our successes,” says Srdja Popovic, the executive director of Canvas. “Others include the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia.” In the latter, students offered soldiers roses when the army was deployed by Eduard Shevardnadze, who had ruled Georgia for more than 30 years.
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