CNI report leaves Maldives with “awkward”, “comical” precedent: Nasheed

Additional reporting by Mariyath Mohamed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has said he accepts the report produced by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) subject to the reservations of his member on the Commonwealth-backed commission, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.

The CNI found that there was no coup on February 7, that Nasheed did not resign under duress, and that police and military officers did not mutiny.

Saeed resigned from the commission the evening prior to report’s publication, expressing concern that the CNI had experienced the withholding of evidence, non-cooperation from crucial witnesses, non-examination of witnesses, witnesses being intimidated or obstructed, testimonies and evidence that was not reviewed.  Concern was also expressed over the organisation by the CNI secretariat.

“I believe the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) will consider the reservations about the CNI’s work that Saeed has noted, and that these issues will also be included in the CMAG report,” Nasheed said, at a press conference this afternoon.

The former President observed that the CNI’s report had effectively set a legal precedent under Maldivian law for the overthrow of an elected government through police or mob action.

This, he said, left the Maldives “in a very awkward, and in many ways, very comical” situation, “where toppling the government by brute force is taken to be a reasonable course of action. All you have to do find is a narrative for that course of action.”

“The pronouncement on the transfer of power was a political announcement – not based on findings or facts. This political pronouncement is based in my view on what would be best for the country from now on, not on exactly what happened that day,” Nasheed said.

“I see the report as a document that tries to map a way forward. The commission was of the view that reinstating my 2008 government would be so messy that it would be best to move forward with another election. So the report has tried so hard to come out with this view through a proper narrative. You will have read the narrative and will understand that at times it is comical, but still, it is a narrative.

“I still am of the view that the commission report has established a precedent which in many ways is not very alien to our past practices. Usually if a mob comes to the palace and stands there for a lengthy amount of time, and if other locals are connected to the mob, the king has very little room to maneuver,” Nasheed said.

“We seem to have been unable to get away from this very feudal system of governance. We were hoping the new constitution would be enlightened enough to give us a system whereby governments would change simply through the ballot box, but it now looks like it was not so simple. I think it will take time before we are able to settle down to more democratic forms.

“My message to the international community is when you recommend issues, situations, solutions programmes and projects to other societies and people, it is so very important to understand the detailed intricacies of the local conditions.

“We still hope elections will be held early, and we will go to elections with a programme, as we always have, and we believe that we will win that election in the first round very handsomely. We have no doubt about that.”

Nasheed noted that all major coalition-aligned parties had signalled their acceptance of the report and its recommendations, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Leader Thasmeen Ali, “and my former vice president Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik”, and emphasised that one of the major recommendations in the report that they had agreed to was for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the security forces.

“We call for a criminal investigation, and they must then be tried in court and be sentenced as due,” he said.

“We are not surprised, this was one outcome the MDP had predicted. If the report suggested there was no duress [in the resignation] but that there were wrongdoings by the police and military, then all these wrongdoings must be addressed immediately within a period of one month, with the international community’s support in doing so,” Nasheed added.

During his speech at the report’s release on Thursday, President Mohamed Waheed did not reveal the CNI’s fourth finding – that there were “acts of police brutality on February 6, 7 and 8 that must be investigated and pursued further by relevant authorities”.

Referring to the CNI report’s conclusion that the controversial February 7 change of power was “constitutional”, Nasheed said that if this were the case, then he believed that parties who were not included in the victorious 2008 coalition had no right to participate in the current unity government, specifically Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the DRP.

Nasheed called for his impending trial at Hulhumale Court – a move recently upheld by the High Court – to be expedited, and also expressed concern at the arbitrary arrest of his supporters for calling police and public officials ‘baghees’ (traitors).

“It is always their hard work that brings things to realisation, that impresses upon everyone the gravity of issues, and if you have a look at who was arrested last night, you can see that the core of them are the intelligentsia of this country,” Nasheed said.

“They are young, highly qualified and they have an opinion. If you want to keep arresting people with an opinion, that says very little about your democratic credentials.”


Government claims all-party talks consensus as MDP maintains “early” election calls

The President’s Office has claimed all-party talks held last night at Bandos Island Resort and Spa concluded with senior representatives for the government and the nation’s political parties agreeing to move ahead through parliament to address the discussion’s key aims.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News that the all-party talks – the last of which, held in June, failed to reach a consensus on an agenda that included setting dates for early elections – saw representatives agreeing on revising the aims of the talks to reflect the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

However, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which continues to criticise the CNI findings – alleging they lack key witness testimonies and evidence – has today said it remained committed to pressing for early elections at the earliest possible date in line with calls from the European Union.

The comments were made after the CNI, charged with investigating the circumstances around the controversial transfer of power on February 7, concluded that the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to office constitutionally.

The Commonwealth, which backed the CNI under a reformed mandate and composition, yesterday called for report’s outcome to be respected – a stance shared by the US, India and the UN.

Following the CNI’s conclusion yesterday, Masood claimed the talks, which were attended by President Waheed, MDP Chair and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, “successfully” agreed to amend the aims of the talks. He added that these amended aims would now likely be addressed through the People’s Majlis rather than through continued external discussions.

Masood added that in light of the CNI’s findings, representatives at yesterday’s talks agreed on a new agenda, such as addressing legislative issues through parliament.  He contended that this work could potentially be dealt with through the formation of a special all-party parliamentary committee.

Speaking to Minivan News yesterday, DRP Leader Thasmeen said ahead of the talk that he believed the focus of discussions, which had previously outlined an agenda including potentially agreeing early elections for this year, “should now change”.

“There had previously been serious contention over the transfer of power. At this point we had been willing to discuss early elections. I think these questions have now been answered [with the CNI report]. It is now time for national reconciliation,” he said.

Thasmeen contended that the talks would likely no longer focus on agreeing a date for early elections, which President Waheed has previously said under the constitution can be scheduled for July 2013 at the earliest.

“I think it should be possible to move on and try finding common platforms for agreement,” he said at the time.

Both Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Interim Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and MDP Chair Manik – who were both representing their respective parties at the talks – were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said today that in spite of the CNI outcome, early elections remained a “key” focus of the opposition party going forward.

According to the MDP, the Commonwealth had not yet announced a change in its policy of pressing for early elections to be held this year to address the current political stalemate in the country.

Ghafoor added that he had also been encouraged by comments made by President Waheed in local media to hold talks between the leaders of the country’s parliamentary parties and himself, discussions he contended that would be limited to five key Majlis representatives.

In outlining the future focus of the party’s plans, former President Mohamed Nasheed was on Friday expected to hold a conference at 4:00pm in Male’ at the Mookai Hotel on Meheli Goalhi.

Addressing the party’s conduct following the CNI report yesterday, the MDP claimed that it believed 60 people were arrested during yesterday’s demonstrations as a result of an ongoing special operation launched by police in attempts to reduce unrest in the capital and wider atolls.

According to Ghafoor, the party was itself concerned with the large number of officers wearing balaclavas as they patrolled the capital, making it impossible to identify them individually.

“They were singing at MDP protesters and mocking them to try and provoke the public,” he claimed. “I myself observed spontaneous protests yesterday that were not organised offcially by the party. These were people who walked out of our national conference meeting yesterday. This situation saw a large number of arrests late into the night.”

According to official police figures, 50 people had been arrested as of yesterday afternoon. Of these suspects, seven were female and one person was classed as a minor.

By midnight, authorities confirmed that a further 13 people had been taken into custody. All suspects were charged with obstructing police in performing their duties.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef today confirmed local news reports that police would be arresting any member of the public heard calling officers “traitors” or alleging they had played part in a “coup”.

Haneef did not clarify if any arrests had been made on these grounds at the time of press.

Police said earlier this week that they will provide full support and security services to the demonstrations held “peacefully and within the contours of laws”.


“I realised it was all going wrong”: member Saeed on CNI’s final days

“I realised it was all going wrong,” recently resigned member of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed told a press conference at Dharubaaruge this evening.

During the press conference, Saeed revealed comprehensive details of the admissions from the final CNI draft which led to his resignation on Wednesday.

“I did push for the initial extension, but this time around I realised that even if the time was extended, there was no possibility that the report would come out any different,” he said.

Saeed said that he had accepted the post because he had been deeply affected by the brutality and the injustice he observed in the events following February 6, and felt he could make a constructive contribution to the commission’s work.

He emphasised that he was not a politician and did not take up these responsibilities with any political interest in mind. Saeed provided a copy of a letter which he says was presented to the commission’s co-chairs on August 26 as well as a copy of his resignation letter.

The first letter, written on August 18, detailed Saeed’s concerns about the commission’s progress, which included the following:  withheld evidence, non-cooperation from crucial witnesses, non-examination of witnesses, witnesses being intimidated or obstructed, testimonies and evidence that was not reviewed, and organisation by the CNI secretariat.

“I feel compelled to formally register with you a number of issues that I believe, if left unaddressed, will seriously undermine the credibility of the report. I also believe these matters defeat the purpose for which the CNI was established,” read the August 26 letter, sent to the other members of the commission as well as Commonwealth Special Envoy, Sir Donald McKinnon, and members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – whose pressure led to his appointment.

Saeed told the press today that he had submitted his concerns regarding Singaporean Judge G.P. Selvam’s extended absences to the Commonwealth, but that he had so far not received a response.

He mentioned that there were a total of 31 days in which the commission was not able to work with the full commission’s presence, alluding to Selvam’s lengthy absence.

In responding to questions from media, Saeed said that Judge Selvam had brought gifts for the commission members ranging from dictionaries to perfume.

He said that the last gift, which had been offered along with the draft of the CNI report, was an Apple iPad for each member of the commission.

Saeed confirmed that while he had not accepted any of these gifts, the other commission members had.

Saeed also spoke of material worth thousands of Singaporean dollars that Judge Selvam had donated to the Villingili Hiya Children’s Center and the Maafushi Juvenile Detention Centre.

In the distributed letter, Saeed decried the fact that no CCTV footage from the police or the President’s Office had been made available to the commission.

“Only three out of eight CCTV cameras in and around MNDF have been provided and these have some crucial hours of footage missing,” wrote Saeed.

Saeed added that, “after much stonewalling”, he was simply told the footage was not available.

Saeed also wrote that the CNI was unable to access the information compiled by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) despite repeated requests.

He also said that the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) report was not received until August 16, describing the eventual report as “superficial and inconclusive”.

The letter suggested that key witnesses, believed to have played crucial roles in the events of February 7, appeared to have been coached – all giving standard responses to questions such as “no”, “I don’t know”, or “I can’t remember”.

Saeed also suggested that the non-cooperation of Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer was unacceptable after he had made public statements detailing his role in Nasheed’s resignation.

He also alleged that the original members of the Commission (Dr Ibrahim Yasir, Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef and chairman Ismail Shafeeu) showed a lack of interest in witnesses, “rarely posing questions.”

Using the examples of MC Mohamed Hameed and Superintendant Adnan Anees, Saeed expressed his belief that pressure was being put on members of the security forces not to cooperate with the CNI.

He added that a number of potentially crucial witnesses had been transferred, sometimes overseas, “making it extremely hard or impossible for them to appear before the CNI.”

Writing 12 days before the report was due for release, Saeed had mentioned his concerns that a lot of evidence had yet to be reviewed in the limited time remaining.

The final point raised in the August 26 letter was the poor scheduling of the witnesses by the commission’s secretariat.

Saeed said that inadequate notice had been given to enable his preparations for questioning. He also suggested that the most important witnesses were scheduled at the least convenient times.

The quality of translations services provided by the secretariat were also criticised, being described as “inappropriate and to some extent misleading.”

Additional details of Saeed’s concerns came in the August 29 resignation letter in which he alleged that the reformed five-man commission had not reviewed the finding of the original three-man group, “despite inconsistencies”.

The resignation letter detailed that no officer from the Special Operations branch of the police force had been interviewed. “The CNI has not been able to ‘summon’ any of the alleged ‘perpetrators’ or ‘culprits’,” he wrote.

Saeed criticised the nature of the commission’s work, arguing that it lacked the “investigative powers to thoroughly probe accusations.” He mentioned that the group had been unable to access key individuals’ bank accounts or phone records.

In concluding the press conference, Saeed said that he felt the Commonwealth had welcomed the final CNI report even though Saeed himself had not signed it because after his resignation, he was no longer a part of CNI and his signature would no longer be needed.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has welcomed the release of the report by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), and urged “all concerned to respect the findings of the commission so that, moving forward, all actions and reactions reflect the sense of responsibility and restraint necessary in the best national interest.“


Commonwealth endorses CNI, MDP claims report “legitimises coup”

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has welcomed the release of the report by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), and urged “all concerned to respect the findings of the commission so that, moving forward, all actions and reactions reflect the sense of responsibility and restraint necessary in the best national interest.“

The report, delivered by Singaporean judge G. P. Selvam to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan on the morning of August 30, claimed there was no evidence to support claims by former President Mohamed Nasheed that he was ousted in a coup d’état, that his resignation was under duress, or that there was any mutiny by the police and military.

Regarding the resignation of Nasheed’s member on the Commission Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, on the grounds that the commission had failed to consider key evidence, testimonies and phone recordings, Secretary-General Sharma said it “was unfortunate that Mr Saeed felt he must dissociate himself from the findings of the Commission.”

“I commend the members of the commission for the intensive work they did to produce the report. I also note the report identifies a number of important issues that need to be addressed regarding the basic institutions of democratic governance, notably the rule of law and administration of justice, the People’s Majlis (Parliament), and the media. This report provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to reflect calmly and carefully, and find a way forward based on dialogue, consensus and reconciliation.

“The task ahead for all Maldivians must be to strengthen democracy in the Maldives. An atmosphere of peace and public order is essential for that to happen,” Sharma said.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, will shortly return to the country “to explore how the Commonwealth can assist Maldives to move forward in a peaceful and consensual manner, and how democratic institutions can be further strengthened,” he added.

Government now legitimate: Waheed

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan at a press conference declared his presidency “clearly legitimate”, following the report’s release: “It is time to stop questioning the legitimacy of the government. It is time to stop illegal activities and activities that go against generally acceptable social norms,” Waheed said.

“The Commission’s findings are clearly stated. I do not believe there is any room to raise any questions about the transfer of power.”

“Most of my time and that of my colleagues in government have been consumed in finding ways to contain the loss and minimise damage to people and country. With serious harm inflicted on our tourism industry, we had to work in partnership with the industry to find ways to overcome serious challenges. We had to respond to allegations made to discredit the government and its officials. Much work had to be done to explain the truth to the people of the Maldives and members of the international community,” Waheed stated.

“We should now ask ourselves how we have spent the last six months. What have we spent our energy on? How much have we damaged our economy due to the harm inflicted on our main industry? How have we lived as a people with fear in our hearts and no peace in sight? How much suffering have we endured as a people due to actions by some only to further their own interests? The damage to our economy and social fabric within the last six months cannot be easily recovered.”

Waheed further condemned public criticism of Selvam’s integrity, stating that “I would like to highlight that the personal attacks by some against members of the commission, especially the attacks on co-chair Justice Selvam’s character, are not acceptable in a civilised society.”

“May the Almighty Allah bestow upon the people of Maldives a better tomorrow. May Allah keep our country a peace loving nation. May Allah keep this land of ours independent and peaceful forever.”

Following the press statement given by President Waheed, the MDP called on an emergency National Executive Council Meeting in the Dharubaaruge conference hall.

A large number of MDP supporters gathered in and outside of Dharubaaruge after the report was released.

During the meeting, several members condemned the actions of Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) for the release of its “inaccurate” report on the controversial transfer of power that took place on February 7.

MDP Spokesperson MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, speaking at the meeting, said that the people would “forever remember” that what happened on February 7 “was a coup”, and said the party would not stop its calls for a “legitimate government”.

“Remember this: the Maldivian people will as long as they live remember that what happened on February 7 was a coup d’etat. What the CNI did was try to legitimise the coup, but truth will prevail. We will remain determined in our calls for a legitimate government,” Fahmy said.

Another attendee called on members of the party to launch “immediate direct action” and protest against the government until it gave way and held democratic elections.

Former Minister of Environment Mohamed Aslam observed that the CNI’s report implied that “anyone who wishes to become President can become so if they gather the support of the police and military.”

“What we saw was a coup d’etat. If we let such an offence go by without justice, this is a very bad precedent we are setting here, and the MDP will not let that happen. I ask all our members from among the islands to come to Male’ and join us in our cause,” he added.

Outside Dharubaaruge police entered into the amassing crowds, leading to verbal confrontations and some scuffles.

Minivan News observed one young woman being arrested for what nearby protesters alleged was “for taking photos of the police”.

After the confrontations, Special Operations (SO) officers stationed themselves at the two ends of Ameenee Magu in front of Dharubaaruge.

International response

The US State Department also issued a statement on August 30 calling on Maldivians “to respect the findings of the CNI.”

“Now that the commission has released its report we urge all parties to respect those findings, to exercise restraint, obey the rule of law, and continue to express themselves in a peaceful and nonviolent manner,” said State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

“Now is the time for all parties to work together through dialogue to chart a positive way forward that respects the Maldivian constitution, democratic institutions, human rights, and the will of the Maldivian people,” Nuland said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs MEA issued a statement ahead of the report’s release saying that it was “essential for all stakeholders to demonstrate a sense of responsibility in respecting the outcome of the Commission’s report, and to express views on the report of the CNI with calm and restraint.”

“Actions that might adversely impact on the atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the Maldives need to be avoided. India hopes that all political parties in the Maldives would take up the issues arising out of the CNI report through a peaceful political dialogue, to make a way forward for resolving the political situation in the country,” the MEA statement read.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also issued a statement saying he “welcomed the start today of high-level political dialogue, and hopes that this leads to national reconciliation and a way of moving forward”, while at the same time expressing “concern at the prospect of renewed political tensions should any side not accept the outcome of the inquiry.”

“The secretary-general calls on the parties to respect the constitution, create a peaceful and transparent environment conducive to dialogue and take steps to strengthen democratic reform and institutions,” the statement read.

The EU meanwhile said it had “taken note of the release of the report of the Commission of National Inquiry on the events surrounding the transfer of power in the Maldives on 7 February.”

“It recalls that all political groupings had previously undertaken to respect the CNI’s findings, although the report would certainly have been controversial whatever the outcome. It is now more than ever essential that genuine efforts be made by all political actors to work together in the interests of the country to ensure that the democratic system is upheld; to allow the normal business of government to continue; and to prepare for free and fair elections, which should be held as soon as possible,” said Michael Mann, spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

Next move

Former Foreign Minister to the Maldives and UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, said the results of the Commonwealth’s “shoddy” work was “very disappointing”.

“The problem appears to have been simple – they relied on the work of the former three member commission appointed by Waheed, including the timeline, which received no input from the MDP,” he said.

“This is a setback, largely because the MDP was too willing to make concessions to the government in terms of the CNI’s structure. The MDP should not have accepted Shafeeu [as co-chair], shouldn’t have accepted a judge from a specific country, and should have demanded two representatives. In our eagerness to cooperate, we underestimated Waheed’s lack of sincerity,” Dr Shaheed said.

Key witnesses, such as Deputy Leader of the former opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Umar Naseer, refused to attend when summoned.

“This was a commission of inquiry and it places the burden of proof on Nasheed, as if he is the plaintiff,” said Dr Shaheed.

“The report is also very contradictory – it says Nasheed used too much force to try and arrest the police, and then says he should have used the force he was legally allowed to. There is no reference to discontent in the army in any way – evidence that was given [to the commission] by very senior people in the armed forces, and it notes that the Police Act does not refer to ‘mutiny’ by police, which is the same as saying it does not refer to ‘rape’.”

“International members on the commission were not provided access to vital evidence such as CCTV footage from police and army headquarters, or of the MNBC takeover,” Dr Shaheed said. “The draft also  came after the three weeks [Selvam] was on leave, missing interviews which would have provided a different picture.”

“This is what you see when you put the light only in one place – you do not see full picture. The report’s shortcomings are evident in its contradictions. It supports the government’s claims, but does not vindicate what happened. It is very hard to justify what is missing from the report.”

By way of example, Dr Shaheed referred to the Commission’s questioning of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Mr Saleem, over an SMS concerning the distribution of MVR 2.4 million (US$155,640) to the ‘mutinying’ policemen.

“The Commission summoned Mr Saleem. He debunked the message effortlessly, claiming that he did not recall sending such a message,” the report stated.

“He says it didn’t happen and they accept it instantly,” Dr Shaheed challenged.

He  suggested that with the publication of the report, international groups would now “be eager to wash their hands of the Maldives,” – [For example, the Commonwealth is now facing challenges in Gambia].

The MDP would be unwilling to accept the report which would lead to further political turbulence, he predicted.

“This report was the best opportunity to get out of the current situation in a peaceful manner. It is a huge disappointment that will come at great cost to the Maldives,” Dr Shaheed said. “As written, the report endorses direct action and sets a precedent that anyone can overthrow the legitimate government.”

“The report speaks of the need to build institutions, but it condones the violent overthrow of the government which does not set the stage for peaceful reconstruction. This is a setback, but they cannot use a report of this nature to paper over what happened. The MDP is rightly outraged, and we will soon see the true nature of the regime. There are very turbulent times ahead.”

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza dismissed the MDP’s allegations that the CNI failed to consider key evidence, including phone calls and testimonies – allegations that led Nasheed’s representative on the commission to resign, and the party to challenge its credibility.

“The Commonwealth and UN observers, as well as the members and Judge Selvam, did not agree with Saeed on that point. They said all evidence was taken into account, and the report was compiled according to formal structures they organised,” Riza said.

“The observers met with president and conveyed the message that whatever formalities were performed was international best practice,” he said.

“The government has always maintained its stand that Nasheed will not accept the report or its outcomes, whatever they may be. Nasheed made an agreement with Mckinnon to accept the outcome, whatever the outcome was. Even though he removed his representation, it is already done.”


Tensions increase as MDP slams CNI outcome

A strong police presence is building around parts of Male’ as opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters gather at the Usfasgandu protest area and the nearby Dharubaaruge conference centre for a meeting of its national congress this afternoon.

Tension has risen over the last 24 hours in the build up to the release of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report investigating the controversial transfer of power on February 7.  The events brought President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to power.

The findings, unveiled by President Waheed this morning, stated that the change of government was “legal and constitutional”, and the events of February 6 and 7 “were, in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed.”

The report has been “welcomed” by the Commonwealth, which has called for continued dialogue to find “consensus” on a way forward for the country’s political parties.

However, the MDP has maintained that the government of former President Mohamed Nasheed was removed from office illegitimately.

MDP Spokesperson MP Imthiyaz Fahmy today claimed that the people would forever remember that what happened on February 7 was “a coup” and that the party will not stop their calls for a legitimate government.

“Remember this, the Maldivian people will as long as they live will remember that what happened on February 7 was a coup d’etat. What the CNI did was legitimise the coup, but truth will prevail. We will remain determined in our calls for a legitimate government,” Fahmy said.

Former Minister of Environment Mohamed Aslam claimed that the actions of the CNI implied that anyone “who wished to become president or to come to power” can now become so “if they gather the support of the police and military”

“What we saw was a coup d’etat. If we let such an offence go by without justice, this is a very bad precedent we are setting here, and MDP will not let that happen. I ask all our members, among the islands to come to Male’ and join us in our cause,” he added.

Government-aligned politicians such as Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali have said that while not everyone will agree on the CNI findings, “finality” was now needed on the issue of the transfer of power in order to begin addressing wider political concerns in the country.

Meanwhile, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has issued a statement stating that the findings were a comfort to the institution’s officers and families.

The decision that the transfer of government went according to the constitution by an independent commission was seen as proving accusations against the MNDF were wrong, the military contended.  The statement added the the findings brought courage and confidence to maintain its “important national service”.

Minivan News this morning observed police Special Operations (SO) officers stationed at the two ends of Ameenee Magu in front of Dharubaaruge. The gatherings have so far in general remained peaceful, with police not attempting to disperse the crowds.

Police today expressed concern that the MDP was deciding to take to the streets and announced that 21 persons had been arrested in the last 24 hours.

LIVE UPDATES – refresh this page:

16:52 - Local newspaper Haveeru has reported that the Maldives Police Service (MDP) has sent a summons to Former Defense Advisor Ameen Faisal.

17:00 – Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef has confirmed that a chit was sent to Ameen Faisal. According to Haneef, Faisal has been asked to present himself to the police headquarters at 9pm tommorow (August 31).

Haneef did specify on what grounds Faisal was being summoned.

17:04 – “People are losing their tempers and leaving the Dharubaaruge conference centre in droves,” reports Minivan News’  Daniel Bosley.

“If we are just going to talk, we should go home,” a male participant at the national congress is observed shouting.

17:14 – The Maldives Police Service website has claimed two suspects had been taken into custody at 16:30 this afternoon after reportedly being found attempting to set fire to a waste disposal site (Kunigondu).  Items have been seized from the suspects.  There was no confirmation if their alleged actions were politically motivated.

17:19 – The MDP national congress had ended without resolution.  Former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam asked attendees inside shortly before the meeting’s end if they would prefer to go out into streets or continue the meeting, Minivan News observed.

17:24 – Former President Mohamed Nasheed has not been observed at the congress today. MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has said ahead of a proposed march later today: “Nasheed is always seen as a cult leader.   This is a good opportunity to test the party’s strength without just following him.”

17:29 – Minivan News has observed between 200 to 300 MDP supporters setting out to reach Chaandhanee Magu junction.  However their progress has been blocked by a truck carrying police officers.  The supporters are now believed to be heading towards the parliament.

17:35 – Local newspaper Haveeru has reported that group of MDP protesters have been split into different groups after being blocked by police.

17:42 – Local media has said that protesters have now reached the Chaandhanee Magu junction.

17:59 – Local media has reported Police and MNDF officers are now chasing protesters at Chandhanee Magu. According to Haveeru, eight people have been arrested – six male, two female.

18:09 – Sun Online has reported police have confirmed the arrest of 10 people during ongoing protests. The demonstrators are said to have been charged for obstructing police in their duties.

18:24 – Speaking to Minivan News today, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali , Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has said he believes talks scheduled to take place at the Bandos Island Resort and Spa this evening are still happening.

“To the best of my knowledge the talks are still taking place. I plan to take part myself,” he said.

Following the findings of the CNI report this morning, Thasmeen contended that the focus of the talks, which had previously outlined an agenda including discussions on potentially scheduling early elections for this year “should now change”.

“There had previously been serious contention over the transfer of power. At this point we had been willing to discuss early elections. I think these questions have now been answered [with the CNI report]. It is now time for national reconciliation,” he said.

Thasmeen added that he believed the talks would no longer focus on agreeing a date for early elections, which President Waheed has previously said under the constitution can be scheduled for July 2013.

“I think it should be possible to move on and try finding common platforms for agreement,” he said.

Thasmeen pointed to issues of alleged politicisation within the police as a concern that could be discussed.

“During the previous government I had made allegations about [former President] Nasheed’s attempts to use the police force as a political tool,” he said. “If Nasheed is also making similar accusations now, then we can look at this issue before the next elections.”

18:33 – MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has said that party Chairperson Reeko Moosa is expected to be in attendance at the talks scheduled for Bandos Island Resort and Spa.

“He won’t have much to say as the MDP has decided to not accept the report released by CoNI,” Ghafoor contended.

The President’s Office had specifically invited the MDP chair, the party has claimed.

Ghafoor also questioned whether “constructive discussion” will be possible during the talks.

18:59 – The Maldives Police Service website has said that a group of people accused of creating unrest at today’s protests have been arrested in an raid at the Usfasgandu area.

19:08 – Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef, when asked for clarification on the activities of protesters charged with obstructing police duty today, has referred Minivan News to the live updates section of the Maldives Police Service website (English) (Dhivehi).

“It will be quite clear from there,” Haneef responded.

20:04 – According to official police figures, 50 people have been arrested this afternoon.  All were arrested on the charge of obstructing officers in performing their duty.  Of those arrested, seven are said to be females, with one suspect identified as a minor.

Police have also confirmed that a man was stabbed in Addu City at 17:00 this evening.  He is currently being treated at Hithadhoo Regional Hospital – no political motivation was mentioned by authorities.

Suspected MDP protesters have also been accused of vandalising the attorney general’s car and removing the flag attached to the vehicle at 18:55 this evening, police have said.

20:15 - Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz has told Minivan News that fears of potential unrest occurring in the country’s prisons following the release of the CNI report has not been realised.

Fayaz, who also serves as Head of the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS), alleged in local media earlier this week that communications between political figures and inmates had been facilitated through mobile phones smuggled into prisons to try and create unrest.

“Military fire capacity and police backup will be available on that day,” he was quoted as telling Sun Online at the time in the case of any incidents.

20:47 – Organisations including the Commonwealth, US, India, UN call for the CNI’s report outcome to be respected in light of its publication today, Minivan News has reported.

21:15 - The European Union has announced it has taken note of the release of the CNI report and the events surrounding the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

“[The EU] recalls that all political groupings had previously undertaken to respect the CNI’s findings, although the report would certainly have been controversial whatever the outcome,” said Michael Mann, Chief Spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

“It is now more than ever essential that genuine efforts be made by all political actors to work together in the interests of the country to ensure that the democratic system is upheld; to allow the normal business of government to continue; and to prepare for free and fair elections, which should be held as soon as possible.”

22:00Haveeru has reported that the government has called for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to remove the Maldives from it agenda.

The Maldives was placed on CMAG’s agenda back in February after the Commonwealth called called for a “formal” independent and impartial investigation, with the involvement of international partners, to ascertain the details behind the controversial transfer of power earlier in the month.

The decision meant the Maldives would no longer be able to participate in CMAG while it remained on the Commonwealth’s watch list.

However, with the publication of the CNI’s report today, State Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told local media that the government now called to be removed from the CMAG agenda immediately as a result of the findings.

“We believe that it was set on the agenda in an inappropriate manner. Several accusations and lies were directed towards the Maldives. The Maldives was included in the CMAG’s agenda through the influence of personal connections of certain individuals,” she was quoted as saying in Haveeru.

The report quoted Dunyaas saying that the CNI’s findings had backed the government’s claims that it had been brought to power under constitutional means.

“So now we know that this is a constitutional government. We don’t have to face any more accusations. It has all been cleared,” she said.

22:15 – Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef has said police are advising people not to walk the streets in groups of more than three people.

Haneef added that groups larger than three would face being stopped and questioned by officers as part of an ongoing special operation police have said was introduced to reduce the chances of violent unrest in the country around the CNI report release.

“We have continued to advise people not to go out and commit unlawful acts,” he said.

00:39 – Police claim 13 people have been taken into custody for creating unrest. A minor is said to be among the suspects.


No coup, no duress, no mutiny: CNI report

The Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) has released its report into the circumstances surrounding the controversial resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed and the transfer of power on February 7.

The CNI was initially a three member panel (Dr Ibrahim Yasir, Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef and chairman Ismail Shafeeu), formed by incoming President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to examine the circumstances surrounding his own succession to the Presidency.

Nasheed and the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have maintained that the former President’s resignation took place under duress during a police and military mutiny, and that Dr Waheed’s government was illegitimate.

The MDP and the Commonwealth subsequently challenged the impartiality of the CNI, and it was reformed to include retired Singaporean judge G. P. Selvam and a representative of Nasheed’s, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.

Retired Court of Appeal judge from New Zealand, Sir Bruce Robertson, and Canadian UN Legal Advisor Professor John Packer, were appointed as international advisers representing the Commonwealth and UN respectively.

Nasheed’s representative Saeed resigned from the CNI on the evening of August 29, denouncing its credibility and alleging that the final report excluded testimony from key witnesses as well as crucial photo, audio and video evidence.

The investigation did not consider the police crackdown on demonstrators on February 8, focusing largely on the events of February 6-7.

Report findings

According to the published report, which was delivered by Selvam to President Waheed on Thursday morning, the change of government was “legal and constitutional”, and the events of February 6-7 “were, in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed.”

“The resignation of President Nasheed was voluntary and of his own free will. It was not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation,” the report claimed.

In addition, “There were acts of police brutality on 6, 7 and 8 February 2012 that must be investigated and pursued further by the relevant authorities.”

The report dismissed the MDP’s allegations that the government’s ousting was a ‘coup d’état’, stating that the Constitution “was precisely followed as prescribed.”

“There appears nothing contestable in constitutional terms under the generic notion of a ‘coup d’état’ that is alleged to have occurred – quite to the contrary, in fact,” the report claimed.

“In terms of the democratic intent and legitimacy of the authority of the Presidency, as foreseen in the Constitution, President Waheed properly succeeded President Nasheed.”

“As President Nasheed clearly resigned and now challenges the voluntariness and legitimacy of his action, the onus is on him to establish illegal coercion or unlawful intimidation.”

Witnesses “lying”

In the course of its work the CNI interviewed 293 witnesses, 15 on multiple occasions. It also reviewed documentary evidence.

“The Commission notes that in many disputes, there can be difficulty in getting to what actually historically occurred as opposed to what an individual now honestly and sincerely believes to have happened,” the CNI report stated.

“Many people have heavy commitments to certain positions and on occasion their recollections were simply wrong. They had a recall that could not be correct when viewed alongside videos, photographs and other evidence. It is unhelpful to call this ‘lying’ but it must be allowed for as conclusions are sought,” it noted.

“Many people seem to think that because an allegation has been made, someone is under an obligation to counter or undermine it. When the allegation lacks substance or reality, nothing is required in response.”

The timeline produced by the three member panel meanwhile faced “virtually no challenge of substance”, and the reformed commission “affirms its own reliance on the timeline.”

Definitions: Not a coup, not under duress, not a mutiny

Regarding Nasheed’s allegation that his resignation was under duress, the report stated that “because of the seriousness of the charge, [the] person who alleges illegal duress or intimidation carries the legal burden as well as the evidentiary burden of proof.”

“It is an inevitable conclusion of the totality of the credible evidence that the only available firearms which were anywhere near the President between 4.37 am and 1:30 pm on 7 February 2012 were those which were carried by his SPG [bodyguards]. There is no evidence to suggest that the arms in possession of the SPG were a threat to him,” the report stated, in its conclusion.

“The Commission does not accept that his activities were closely monitored or that the military or the three civilians were issuing orders. Even if they had been, that does not signify coercion.”

The report dismissed claims by former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem that Brigader General Ahmed Shiyam was armed with a pistol in the company of Nasheed.

“Yet another witness, the Minister of Tourism in President Nasheed’s government, Maryam Zulfa, said that it was Riyaz who had a gun. This was because according to her there was a bulge in the pant pocket of Riyaz,” the report stated.

“The Commission is forced to conclude that this is evidence which although it may be the presently-held view of those people, is so inconsistent with the totality of the material that it cannot be relied upon.”

“All the credible evidence showed that neither [retired Colonel] Nazim, nor anyone else, delivered the threat alleged by President Nasheed.”

The report noted that coercion “as a result of unlawful activities by other people was a constant theme from many witnesses.”

“Because illegal or unlawful acts or omissions were going on in the community, it seemed to be the view of a number of witnesses that this had the effect of coercing the President to resign. The Commission does not comment on the allegations of such activities because they are not within our mandate but there is clear and unequivocal evidence before us that there are serious allegations of wrongdoing by the military, the police and private citizens. For the Maldives to move forward, these matters must be addressed.

“However, the Commission is unable to see how it can be contended that such wrongdoings perpetrated upon others can be said to have any coercive effect upon the President.”

“Indeed, until the time of his resignation, President Nasheed possessed of many powers under the Constitution that he could have utilized including the lawful use of force. He chose not to.

“That decision may be classified as praiseworthy, but he cannot now contend that because he made those choices, that he was ‘forced’ into resigning because of what others were doing around him,” the report stated.

Definition of a coup

The report also reviewed several definitions of the term “coup d’état”.

The World Book definition, “a sudden take-over of a country’s government by a group of conspirators. Usually, the conspirators are public officials who infiltrate and then use their country’s armed forces, police, and communications to seize power”, was rejected in favour of “whenever the legal order of a community is nullified and replaced by a new order in an illegitimate way, that is in a way not prescribed by the first order itself.”

The report also defined the word “mutiny” as “under the law of the Maldives an internal matter within the military. Its aim is not to remove the President from office or to overthrow the government.”

As for the police, “The Maldives Police Act 2008 does not contain the offence of mutiny by police. So the offence of mutiny is confined to the military. Any illegal subordination by a policeman would be an internal matter subject to disciplinary proceedings.”

CNI conclusions

Nasheed provided the commission with a “with a list of some 67 names, whose bank accounts and telephone logs he requested be scrutinised. These allegations were unsupported by any evidence,” the report stated.

“All sorts of allegations were made against Retired Colonel Nazim on how he purportedly stalked President Nasheed, controlled his movements and dictated what he should say. Nazim, it was said, even wanted the pen used by President Nasheed to write his resignation. There was ample credible evidence rebutting these false allegations.

“Such allegations are very easy to make and some naively suggested that if the Commission trolled through scores of bank accounts, telephone records, SMS logs and intelligence reports, all would be revealed.

“The Commission lacks the ability to do so comprehensively, although when it made specific requests in individual cases, information was provided and revealed nothing of consequence.

“Aslam, while appearing before the Commission, read about an SMS attributed to Mr Saleem, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment. The SMS spoke of a distribution of MVR 2.4 million (US$155,640) to the ‘mutinying’ policemen. The Commission summoned Mr Saleem. He debunked the message effortlessly, claiming that he did not recall sending such a message.”

“After hearing him, the Commission would not invade and investigate the privacy and personal affairs of all and sundry as desired by President Nasheed and his aides in the absence of minimally credible supporting evidence,” the report said.

“A coup d’état required positive action against President Nasheed. Non-action and inaction cannot constitute a coup d’état. Moreover, the Constitution does not call for loyalty of anyone to the President. It calls for the loyalty to the Constitution.

“In sum, the Commission concludes that there was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any coup d’état. The Commission has received no evidence supporting or to substantiate these allegations. This disposes the main mandate of the Commission.”

Read the full report


MDP gears up for “direct action” protest as Gahaa Saeed resigns from CNI

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s nominee to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, has resigned after questioning the integrity and purpose of the commission.

In a brief statement to media around 6.30pm today (August 29), Saeed explained that he chose to resign in protest of CNI’s final report excluding testimony from key witnesses as well as photo, audio and video evidence.

Saeed said he had believed the commission would “find out the truth” after considering all the evidence.

“I thought that the commission would also include as recommendations measures that can be taken to ensure that such a unique coup cannot be brought about again in the Maldives,” he said. “And that [the report] would identify those who committed criminal acts and make a decision on taking action against them after consideration.”

“Up until today, I worked to achieve this. However when none of these purposes can be fulfilled, I don’t believe there is any use of remaining as a member of the commission. And since this is a task I undertook with no pay as a national service, and because I do not want to be involved in something that will not cool the passions of the people, I have resigned as a member of CoNI moments ago,” Saeed said.

Pressed by reporters, Saeed declined to comment further or reveal the conclusions of the report, saying he would speak once it was made public tomorrow.

Speaking at Usfasgandu at 5:00pm today, where supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have begun gathering, Nasheed called on the public to take to the steet and “topple the government tonight” as there was “no other choice but direct action.”

Nasheed explained that he advocated against overthrowing the government through street protests because he believed an independent and impartial investigation would lead to an early election.

Nasheed said the CNI report could not “deny what I experienced and saw with my own eyes” on February 7, when he resigned after elements of police and the army mutinied at the Republic Square.

“I am ready to face any traitor police or army officer that confronts me,” Nasheed said. “And I urge all of you to do the same, confront them and change this country’s government tonight.”

The former president has also reiterated his calls for “national police and military officers” to “come out and change this country’s government from the street.”

Nasheed argued that by concluding that the transfer of power on February 7 was neither a coup d’etat nor the result of unlawful activities, the CNI was legitimising overthrowing the government and he was “ready to change the government the same way tonight.”

Minivan News will be bringing live updates of the situation as it develops.

LIVE UPDATES – refresh this page:

7:45pm – Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has told Minivan News that he does not expect “responsible leaders to encourage violence in country”.

“It it time for those active in politics to advise others to be calm,” he said.

“In a small country like ours, we do not want violence like in other parts of the world. Law enforcement will deal with demonstrations in a responsible manner in line with human rights and the constitution.”

7:54pm – Amidst increased tensions in the capital this evening, the Maldives Police Service has said it will be continuing to operate “random searches” on the capital’s street and its surrounding waters.  The claims were made as authorities today warned the public against creating “unrest” or gathering near areas where violent clashes were taking place.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News this evening that the searches carried out today formed part of a special operation launched earlier this week.

At time of press, Haneef confirmed that two vessels had been searched by officers. The vessels were later cleared to proceed to their respective destinations.

As of midday, official police figures claimed searches had been conducted in 17 different locations over a 24 hour period on 99 people. As part of this focus, 188 people have been questioned, 258 vehicles have undergone checks, while eight people have been taken into custody, police confirmed.

Haneef said that he did not have further updates on these figures at time of press. However, he added that figures would be available on the Maldives Police Service website as they were compiled.

7:56pm – Police Superintendent Abdullah Nawaz has been quoted in local media today as having said that any protests conducted following the release of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report will be “broken up without warning, if violence breaks out.”

Sun Online reported that Nawaz had said peaceful protests would be allowed as written in the national constitution, though protesters would not be able to obstruct police in their duties or break through barricades.

“We have received information of plans to create violence following the CNI’s report, especially in Male’. We urge the public to refrain from such activities, and would like to inform that such activities will not be tolerated by the Maldives Police Service,” he was quoted as saying.

8:09pm – The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Elections Commission (EC) have both today released statements calling for peaceful reconciliation following the scheduled publication of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

The statement issued by HRCM has stressed the importance of citizens respecting each others’ human rights, while also emphasising the need to solve issues through discussions and to not allow unrest to take place in any form.

Meanwhile, the EC has called on all political leaders to refrain from any actions that might incite any form of unrest in the country.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives has also released a press statement calling on all stakeholders to ensure that the CNI is allowed to work with full independence.

While calling on state institutions to maintain integrity and public trust, the NGO has also asks all stakeholders involved in the current political process to “show restraint” and calm so that the political situation does not further deteriorate.

8:22pm – MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has told Minivan News that opposition demonstrations have started at 8:00pm this evening at the Usfasgandu area in Male’.  The demonstration is expected to include a march around the capital.

“The message is simple. We are appealing to security forces to remove the coup-government, the Defence Minister and the Commissioner of Police,” Ghafoor added.

When asked if former President Nasheed would lead the march, Ghafoor replied; “He has been on national radio this evening and told his supporters ‘If you are ready, I am ready’.”

9:22pm – The government has claimed that UN and Commonwealth observers placed on the CNI have today told President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan that there had been “no issues” with the work of the commission, according to local Media.

Newspaper Haveeru quoted President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza as saying that international observers had said the commission was of “internationally accepted” standards as its work was concluded.

The report added that President Waheed had been thanked for the support provided to the CNI investigation. Abbas contended that the observers noted that similar investigations were “seldom” as supported by governments in other parts of the world, reported Haveeru.

Both Abbas and President’s Office Media Secretary Masood were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

9:50pm – Former President Nasheed is presently addressing a large number of MDP supporters as the party’s march around the capital is halted by a military roadblock near to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) base on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, reports Minivan News’ Daniel Bosley.

10:03pm – Minivan News has observed both police and military officers officers gathered in front of protesters.  “Police officers wearing gas masks are lining up in front of the recently arrived soldiers,”  Daniel Bosley observed.

10:16pm – Protesters are witnessed becoming increasingly animated and jeering police. Some officers are seen chanting back in response, Minivan News observes.

10:20pm – Violent clashes have started with protesters hitting out at the shields of military officers.

10:28pm – Minivan News’ Daniel Bosley observes security forces with boxes marked ‘tear smoke munitions’.  Military officers are meanwhile holding their lines.

10:34pm – An estimated 300 to 400 people remain at the front lines of the protests.

10:40pm – Police have told crowds that the protests will be dispersed without any further warning, Minivan News observes.

10:52pm – A large number of protesters are observed making their way back to Usfasgandu area, observes Daniel Bosley.  Police are moving back down Boduthakurufaanu Magu in similar direction behind demonstrators.

11:07pm – A large number of protesters have now returned to Usfasgandu area.

11:23pm – Police have confirmed an arrest has been made of an individual accused of trying to force their way through police barricades.

11:55pm - Around 10:45pm, Minivan News observed a man emerge from the front line of the protest near the Maafanu stadium holding his head. A photo from the MDP youth group ‘Yellow Force’ later surfaced on social media.

After protesters turned back to head toward Usfasgandu, Minivan News also observed Special Operations (SO) officers with their faces covered with balaclavas, marching behind the MDP supporters and singing “for the sacred religion of Islam and the nation.”

Clashes occurred between protesters and the SO police near the petrol shed. Minivan News observed a man taken into custody behind the patrol shed where police and MNDF vehicles were parked.

An elderly man holding an MDP flag was also taken into custody near Usfasgadu.

12:00am - Speaking at the Usfasgadu rally, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ says the party will submit evidence to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which will consider the CNI report.

Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed meanwhile tweeted earlier in the day: “Without Saeed’s consent, CONI report is not worth the paper it is written on! CMAG will reject it!”

12:18am - MDP rally closes with a speech by MP Mohamed Nazim. The party plans to hold a large gathering tomorrow to coincide with the release of the CNI report.


High Court invalidates Hulhumale’ court’s rejection of case against former president

The High Court has invalidated the decision of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to rule it did not have the jurisdiction to proceed with lawsuits pressing charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed and certain defence figures serving under him.

The Prosecutor General (PG) initially submitted the cases against the Former President, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim and three Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers for their alleged role in the “unlawful detention” of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

The High Court ruling stated the case was based on the “unlawful detention” of a person, adding that magistrate courts have the jurisdiction to proceed with such cases.

The ruling also said that as the incident occurred in Male’ area, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court again had the jurisdiction to proceed with the case.

On July 18, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court rejected a case filed by the Prosecutor General’s (PG’s) office against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim as well as three other senior military officers over the arrest of the judge.

Hulhumale’ Court Magistrate Moosa Naseem told Minivan News at the time that the case was sent back to the PG’s Office after the court decided that it did not have the jurisdiction to deal with such cases.

“We studied the case and we found that we do not have the jurisdiction to deal with the case according to article 66 of the Judicature Act,” Naseem explained.

According to the Judicature Act, Naseem said, the Hulhumale’-based court can only accept the case after the Chief Justice issues a decree in agreement with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Judicial Council as stated in the article 66(b) of the Act.

Article 66(b) of the Judicature Act states that: “in accordance with section (a) of this article, if additions or omission to the jurisdictions stipulated in schedule 5 of this Act has to be carried out, the modification has to be done in agreement with the Judicial Service Commission and the Judicial Council and by a decree issued by the Chief Justice.”

On January 16, Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was detained by the military, after he had opened the court to order the immediate release of former Justice Minister, current Home Minister and deputy leader of the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

In late 2011, Judge Abdulla was himself under investigation by the JSC, the country’s judicial watchdog, for allegedly politically biased comments made to private broadcaster DhiTV. The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) was due to release a report into Judge Abdulla’s ethical misconduct, however the judge approached the Civil Court and successfully filed an injunction against his further investigation by the judicial watchdog.

The Nasheed administration accused the judge of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases and links with organised crime, describing him as “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights violations and corruption cases.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests in January, leading the Nasheed administration to appeal for international assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.


Broadcasting Commission demands Raajje TV apologise for publicising defence minister’s text messages

Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has demanded private broadcaster Raajje TV apologise for reporting 57 leaked text messages allegedly received to Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s mobile phone during the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

In a letter sent to the station yesterday, with MBC’s investigation report attached, the commission demanded that the station broadcast an apology statement from last night for three consecutive nights at prime time from 8:00pm to 10:00pm.

The commission contended that the opposition-aligned TV station violated the “code of practice” of broadcasting by airing the text messages.

Upon receiving the MBC letter, Raajje TV last night aired an apology statement “to respect the demands from “MBC to issue an “unconditional apology” following complaints of its alleged “publicising of text messages received to a man named Mohamed Nazim of M.Seenukarankaage on 22 July 2012, Raajje TV would like to apologise for this action.”

Contacted by Minivan News, Deputy CEO of Raajje TV Abdulla Yameen said that the station did not wish to comment on MBC’s decision

The MBC action followed a complaint filed by Defence Minister Nazim in June in the wake of the publication of the text messages.

In a press statement posted on social media twitter at the time, Nazim argued that Raajje TV had violated article 24 of the constitution, which guarantees right to privacy as well as article 37 of the Broadcasting Act, which prohibits the broadcast of illegally obtained information.

The text messages allegedly received on Nazim’s phone reportedly offered congratulations from officers of the security forces, family members and, prominent businesses figures, including tourism tycoon Ahmed Nazeer of Crown Company Pvt Ltd.  Prominent politicians such as Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer were also reported to have sent the messages.

“Raajje TV’s actions contravene the constitution and laws of the Maldives, as well as broadcasting ethics. Hence, I have asked the Maldives Broadcasting Commission and Maldives Police Services to investigate the matter,” Nazim said at the time.

Raajje TV News Head ‘Asward’ Ibrahim Waheed responded to Nazim’s claims insisting that the station was not responsible for the leaked text messages.

Asward explained that the text messages were made public at an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally, which Raajje TV televised.

“Numerous print media outlets have also written articles on these text messages. Therefore, Nazim’s targeting of Raajje TV on this matter again illustrates the Maldivian security forces’ attempt to gag free media,” Waheed said.

Controversial text messages

According to the document publicised by the MDP, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid sent a message to Nazim at 1:42pm stating “Need to talk urgently.”

PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer at 2:51 pm allegedly says: “Extremely grateful for your service in saving this country and its religion, thank you, Umar Naseer.”

Three phone numbers registered with the Crown Company Pvt Ltd also offered congratulations to Nazim. Tourism Tycoon Ahmed Nazeer allegedly said at 1:28 pm: “Congratulations. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Keep up the good work, but don’t go overboard. Thanks and regards, Nazeer.”

A Malaysian number which the MDP claims belongs to retired MNDF Lieutenant General Anbaree Abdul Sattar at 4:39 pm said: “Heartfelt congratulations. I pray Allah gives you the patience and wisdom as you proceed to be magnanimous and be mindful of the vow you have made to uphold the constitution and the constitution of the Maldives, Anbaree.”

Anbaree had served as former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Ambassador to India.

Two text messages also appear to discuss details of the then VP’s movements and logistics for a press conference. A number registered with the MNDF at 2:51 pm says: “Sir VP getting ready to move to Majlis,” while a man identifying himself as Colonel Adurey at 3:21 pm asks when media briefing should be scheduled.

Several security forces personnel also allegedly sent text messages to Nazim thanking and congratulating him for his role in Nasheed’s resignation.

A text message from retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Abdul Shakoor Abdulla said: “Allah Akbar Allah Akbar Akbar Alh’amdhu Lillah. Congratulations! Abdul Shakoor Abdulla Rtd. Dy Com of Police,” whilst a number registered with Lieutenant Colonel Zakariyya Mansoor reportedly sent a text message saying, “Congratulations, Mansoor.”

Another text message from a man identifying himself as “Riya” from an unlisted number said: “Moosa Jaleel’s 15 year savage reign is now over. I was one of those forced to resign. I am really proud to say I’m done STF with you in same platoon. Congratulations, Riya, five rises.” Moosa Jaleel was Chief of the Defense Forces under Nasheed. He resigned shortly after President Waheed took his oath of office.

Attacks on Raajje TV

In recent weeks, the government has stepped up verbal attacks on Raajje TV claiming the station incites hatred and violence against security forces by broadcasting “baseless allegations” regarding alleged police brutality and the service’s role in the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

The police have said it will no longer cooperate with or provide protection to Raajje TV journalists.

The President’s Office meanwhile stopped inviting the station to press conferences and other events.

Raajje TV has since filed a lawsuit against the decision by the police to not cooperate with the station. Hearings have commenced on the case.

Home Minister Mohamed Jameel, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, and Attorney General Azima Shukoor have said Raajje TV must bear responsibility for the murder of a police officer last month, and have pledged to take legal action against the station.

Raajje TV has previously accused the Maldives security forces of regularly targeting, attacking, threatening and harassing the station’s journalists.

In a July 10 statement, Raajje TV said: “Raajje TV journalists have been forced to live in fear as they have increasingly become targets of attacks by the national security forces, particularly the police service. The station also believes that these attacks and harassment has been the source of emotional distress and psychological damage to all Raajje TV employees.”