President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has announced that the composition of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) will be reformed by June 15, allowing a representative from former President Mohamed Nasheed to join the official investigation for the first time since he was ousted from power on February 7.
The CNI was set up by Dr Waheed to investigate the controversial circumstances that brought him to power, amid widespread allegations that his successor was forced to resign in an opposition backed coup, aided by rogue police and military officials.
However, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – and subsequently the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – challenged the credibility of the three member panel appointed by Dr Waheed, and pressured the government into accepting a nominee from Nasheed and a retired foreign judge to serve as co-chair of the CNI. Commonwealth and the United Nations will each provide an expert adviser for support to the commission as well.
Last week the government announced it had accepted the 13th nominee proposed by Nasheed, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.
Speaking to the reporters today, Dr Waheed said, “We are hoping by 15 of this month commission members will be completed.”
“I think new members will have the opportunity to look into previous works of the commission and come up with some ideas on how to proceed with the investigation,” he said, speaking to the reporters after arriving from a trip to London to participate in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with other Commonwealth leaders.
Nearly 200 supporters and government officials gathered near the jetty to welcome the President.
During the visit, President Waheed met with British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, and discussed about the progress of the investigations.
“Everyone wants peace and stability in the Maldives. We expressed our commitment to cooperate with all parties,” President contended.
However, last week’s abrupt release of CNI timeline on the events of February 7, followed by a contradictory report published by two senior MDP members on the same events, has caused additional challenges to the stalled political mediation process.
In May, CNI had announced that it had ceased its work to accommodate changes to its composition, but on Thursday released the time line asking for public opinion.
“It is unacceptable that a committee that has been discredited by the civil society, members of the public and the international community should proceed to make public its findings, ahead of the commencement of the work of a restructured commission,” said MDP’s Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, in a statement on Thursday.
“It is incomplete, biased and reveals the malicious intent of the Commission,” he said, adding that neither former President Nasheed nor any MDP member had given testimony to the commission before it released its findings.
The government meanwhile described the MDP’s report (Dhivehi) as an “act of terrorism”.
CNI’s Timeline findings were gathered by the three member panel which include Chair Ismail Shafeeu, Defence Minister under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Dr Ibrahim Yasir and Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef.
MDP has repeatedly called for Shafeeu to be removed, citing his connection to Gayoom, leader of government alligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
However, DrWaheed today confirmed he has no intention of changing Shafeeu or two other members during the scheduled reformation.