Home Minister Umar Naseer pleads not guilty to charges at Criminal Court

Home Minister Umar Naseer denied charges of ‘disobedience to an order’ at the first hearing of his trial at the Criminal Court today.

Judge Abdulla Didi told Naseer’s lawyer to respond to the charges at the next trial date, according to local media.

Naseer is accused of calling for 2,000 volunteers on January 23, 2012 to storm the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters with 50 ladders during the two weeks of protests sparked by the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

On the night in question, Umar told anti-government demonstrators in front of the Maldives Monetary Authority building that they should use tactics to tire out the soldiers on duty before climbing into the military barracks, at which point “the people inside will be with us.”

“From today onward, we will turn this protest into one that achieves results,” Naseer had said.

“We know how people overthrow governments. Everything needed to topple the government of this country is now complete.”

After he was questioned by the police in September 2012, Naseer told the press that “there will be no evidence” to prove he committed a criminal offence.

“In my statement I did not mention where to place the ladders or where to climb in using the ladders.” Naseer had said.

If convicted, Naseer faces banishment, imprisonment or house arrest not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding MVR150 (US$ 10) under article 88(a) of the penal code.

The case against Naseer was submitted to the Criminal Court by the Prosecutor General’s office in December 2012 after police concluded their investigation.

The 22 consecutive nights of protests by the then-opposition in January 2012 culminated in the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7 in the wake of a violent mutiny by riot police officers.

Speaking at a Progressive Party of Maldives rally days after the controversial transfer of presidential power, Naseer claimed he had warned the president’s closest aides that Nasheed could “lose his life” if he did not comply with the ultimatum to resign.

Naseer said he told the president that he could “either surrender with bloodshed or surrender peacefully”.

Naseer also told Australia’s SBS Dateline programme that he was organising the protests from a “command centre” and that he feared for Nasheed’s life.

In January 2013, Naseer said the ousting of the Maldivian Democratic Party government was the result of “planning, propaganda and a lot of work.”

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Translation: Leaked ‘coup agreement’

The following translation is of a document apparently signed and stamped by then opposition political parties on December 29, 2011, outlining a planned overthrow of the Nasheed government on February 24, 2012. Nasheed resigned amid a police-led mutiny on February 7, 2012.  Parties involved have rejected the document’s authenticity – read the full story here.

Download the original document in Dhivehi

1. Introduction

As the current President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge, has disrespected Islam as well as the country’s laws and regulations, declared blatantly anti-Islamic sentiments, obstructed the enforcement of Islamic hadd [punishments] in the Maldives, carried out laadheenee (irreligious or secular) actions, illegally arrested politicians, committed many acts that undermine the dignity of the country’s courts, and since the fraternal political groups have determined that he is unfit to remain as President of the Maldives, this agreement is made among the fraternal political groups to remove him completely from Maldivian politics and do what is required to completely erase the Christian-influenced Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from the Maldivian political arena.

2. The fraternal political groups

  1. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)
  2. Civil Alliance
  3. Adhaalath Party
  4. Jumhooree Party
  5. Dhivehi Qaumee Party
  6. Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DQP)
  7. People’s Alliance

3. Plan for the 24 February 2012 Symposium

3.1 Purpose of the symposium

The purpose of the symposium on 24 February 2012 is to make it a day of civil obedience across the Maldives with the aim of toppling the MDP government and establishing a national unity government formed among the fraternal political groups. And to overthrow the government within 24 hours of the beginning of the symposium.

As the fraternal political groups believe that it is important to carry this out in a way that would avoid foreign influence in Maldivian political affairs brought about because of the manner of changing the government, it has been agreed that this can be conducted most smoothly with the assistance of Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik. Therefore, the first order of business has to be worsening the relationship between MDP and the vice president, seeking the approval of senior figures of the vice president’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party and his close associates and bringing them into this.

The assurance needed from the vice president is that he will immediately assume the office of the presidency if Nasheed leaves the post under any circumstances, form a national unity government on the advice of the fraternal political groups, endure everything faced during this process, conduct the affairs of the nation until the presidential election in 2013, pave the way for the 2013 election, and not contest in the election in 2013.

The assurance that the fraternal political groups will give to the vice president will be to provide any and all assistance that he may require in this. And provide the assurance that he will remain in power until 11 November 2013.

3.2 How the government will be changed

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, 24 February 2012, a mass protest in the form of symposium will begin in all inhabited islands of the country. The protest will begin in Male’ at the tsunami memorial area. After the protest begins, a demand from the participants will be proposed to the government. The only demand of this protest will be for President Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge to resign without any conditions as he has insulted Islam and violated the laws of the country.

3.3.1 Going to Republic Square

The government will give a deaf ear to the demand for resignation. Therefore, after offering a five-hour period to comply with the demand, at 9 o’clock at night the participants of the protest will head towards the Republic Square divided into three groups. It has been agreed that protests will take place in all inhabited islands at this time.

The first group with Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will go past Kalhuthuhkala Koshi [military barracks near southwest harbour] on Boduthakurufaanu Magu and stop near MMA west of the Republic Square.

[Text missing]

The third group with PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will leave the tsunami memorial area in vehicles, go down Majeedhee Magu, turn near mercury to Orchid Magu and stop near Reefside at the intersection of Republic Square and Chandanee Magu.

Help will be received from former police and army officers to overcome obstacles posed by police and the army to the protesters reaching these areas. PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will coordinate this.

3.3.2 Showing stringency

After all the participants of the protest gather at the areas surrounding the Republic Square, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will address the police from the group near the MMA [building]. The Sheikh’s speech will mostly focus on Mohamed Nasheed’s laadheenee [irreligious or secular] ideology and convincing police and the army that obeying the commands of such a person with a laadheenee ideology is completely haram [forbidden] in Islam. The Sheikh along with different scholars will speak on this subject for 45 minutes.

After that, Abdulla Mohamed, representing the civil groups, and other civil society persons will give speeches.  Their speeches will mostly focus on stability in the Maldives, establishing justice and the economy under Nasheed’s rule. They will speak on this topic for 45 minutes.

After the speeches by the civil society persons, the first person to talk from among the politicians in the group gathered in front of Reefside will be PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer. Umar Naseer will begin his speech by calling on those in the front ranks of the government to join the protesters as President Mohamed Nasheed has not resigned by the time the period offered to him had elapsed. An opportunity will be offered to those in the front ranks of the police and army to either resign or step aside from their posts. The speeches will be interrupted for 30 minutes to provide an opportunity for these officers to do so.

It is not expected that cooperation will be forthcoming within 30 minutes from those working in the senior ranks of the police. However, a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel from the military has agreed to vacate their posts and refuse to carry out their responsibilities. This will be first announced via DhiTV. And a live interview with the resigned brigadier general will be brought on DhiTV. After this news, Umar Naseer’s speech will resume to raise the spirit of the protesters and divide the ranks of the police and the army. And he will call for the protesters to step forward and for the police and army to step back. The protesters will clash with police and attempt to enter the Republic Square by force.

3.3.3 Receiving the assistance of police

While the protesters face the police and army with severity, the special platoon of police on duty in front of MMA will abandon their command, enter the Republic Square and sit down in protest. At this time, some protesters will get an opportunity to enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that an MNDF [Maldives National Defence Force] backup will cordon off the area.

Complete assurance has been received from friendly police that this police platoon will be arranged to be on duty in front of MMA. The PPM deputy leader has met the officers of this platoon individually and briefed them on what they have to do. Their demands have now been taken care of.

Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan will announce on MNBC One that the striking or protesting police have disobeyed orders and that they will be arrested and taken inside Bandaara Koshi [main military headquarters in front of Republic Square]. A retired former colonel will communicate with the defence minister concerning this and provide assistance to him. PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim, will monitor this.

3.3.4 Friendly police and friendly military playing their role

Following the arrest of the protesting police, a senior team of friendly police will begin working on their behalf. They will claim that the military cannot arrest police and request discussions between a senior police team and the defence ministry.  This team will comprise of 9 senior police officers and former police officers. When the defence ministry says that there is no room for negotiation regarding this, the team will command all police to abandon their command and gather at the Republic Square helipad.

[Text missing]

Police will be informed under the guidance of Umar Naseer. And all police will be informed via SMS. This will incite hatred of the police towards the military and the coordination established between police and the military will be lost. And at this time, protesters gathered near the Shaheed Hussain Adam building [police headquarters] will get the opportunity to break the barricade and enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that the military will strongly look after the MMA and Reefside area.

3.3.5 Media and communication

The media will play the most important role at this juncture. DhiTV, DhiFM and VTV will claim that the police and the military are preparing for a major confrontation. And former senior police officers will call in the media for all police to go to the Republic Square in defence of their brothers.

Phones will be used as the primary mode of communication to carry this out. Friendly police will ensure by this time that communication-jamming facilities will be damaged beyond use. If phone calls and SMS are jammed due to any reason, messages that must be sent to police and the army will be delivered directly from DhiTV and DhiFM. Under such circumstances, these two media will become the primary communication and the communication coordination team will shift to the DhiTV studio.

3.3.6 Assistance from the military

As preparations would be underway for a major confrontation between police and the military, and because of the large number of police gathered at the Republic Square, the numbers of the military in Male’ at the time being small compared to the police, the police being in possession of non-lethal weapons, the most important power of the military being lethal weapons, and the fear of serious bloodshed in the country if the military uses lethal weapons against police, and after informing senior military officers of the superiority of police over the military, all of the military troops will be called on, with the assistance of the defence minister, to lay down their arms and join the protest.

It is believed that under the circumstances, with the situation brought to this [state], the military will have no other option and will accept the proposal. If they do not accept, the defence minister will do it forcefully.

3.3.7 Arresting Mohamed Nasheed

Following cooperation from the police and military, as it is the responsibility of the SPG [Special Protection Group] military officers to protect the president at such a time, Mohamed Nasheed will be taken out of Male’ by them under the pretence of protection. Mohamed Nasheed will be kept at Aarah [presidential retreat island] under military custody.

3.3.8 Supreme Court ruling that Mohamed Nasheed’s presidency is illegitimate

As the country’s order and stability would be lost with matters at this state, with the police and military clashing and the military not obeying Mohamed Nasheed’s command, a case will be filed at the Supreme Court requesting a ruling declaring that Nasheed has been found incapable of performing the duties of the President as there could be serious discord, unrest and bloodshed in the country if he remained in the post. Assurances have been received that the Supreme Court will issue such a ruling or court order to that effect when the case is filed.

The Supreme Court will sentence Nasheed to jail and bar him from politics for life because of the illegal activities committed while he was president, the allegations of efforts to wipe out Islam from the Maldives, and for the crime of illegally detaining politicians.

Filing the case at the Supreme Court and discussions concerning this matter will be carried out under the supervision of Qaumee Party President Dr Hassan Saeed. Dr Hassan Saeed and Ahmed Nazim from the People’s Alliance will carry out lobbying efforts to secure the support of a majority from the Supreme Court bench. Assurances have been given by PPM that Azima Shukoor will work to secure the assistance of the Chief Justice.

3.3.9 Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik taking the oath of office

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court passed upon Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik will take the oath of office and become the president. After the swearing-in, Dr Mohamed Waheed will immediately dissolve the cabinet.

After the president dissolves the cabinet, the fraternal political groups together with the president will carry out forming a new cabinet and appointing ministers. The newly formed cabinet will comprise of 10 ministries. As the defence ministry and home ministry are important for national security, ministers will first be appointed for these two ministries. The two ministers that shall be appointed are,

  1. Defence Ministry. Appointing current Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan to the post.
  2. Home Ministry. Appointing PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, on behalf of the party, as the Home Minister.

In addition, ministers will be appointed to the rest of the ministries on an equal basis among the fraternal political groups. And a vice president will be appointed as agreed upon by the fraternal political groups.

The following persons shall be appointed as the senior officers of the police and military,

  1. Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim will be appointed to the post of Chief of Defence Force.
  2. Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz will be appointed to the post of Commissioner of Police.

4. Dissolving MDP’s political activities

As the fraternal political groups have agreed that exerting influence upon the current leadership of the MDP and taking over control of the MDP is of utmost importance, it has been agreed to do the following to dissolve the current MDP leadership,

4.1 MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi

As Dr Ibrahim Didi is politically weak and not a political person despite being someone paving the way to advance politically, it has been noted that controlling MDP through Dr Didi will be easy. To this end, it has been decided to secure MDP’s presidential ticket for Dr Didi.

With the likelihood of MDP splitting being high as a result of the difficulties Dr Didi will face under his leadership from Mohamed Nasheed’s friends, Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim will provide assistance to Dr Didi at such a time.

[Text missing]

As Alhan Fahmy has been noted as someone with the capability of rallying and uniting MDP supporters in the absence of Mohamed Nasheed, it has been agreed that removing Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership is essential. It has also been noted that Alhan Fahmy does not have the opportunity of contesting in the 2013 election or becoming a vice presidential candidate.

It has been agreed that efforts to remove Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership will be carried out under the supervision of PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim.

4.3 MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik

It has been agreed that keeping MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik in his post would be fine. It has been noted that there is room to forcefully do things through him by using the corruption cases involving his Heavy Load company and intimidating him through his business dealings.

As Moosa Manik is seen as someone who would contest for the MDP’s 2013 presidential ticket, he has been noted as a leader who has the approval of MDP’s common members. Therefore, it has been noted that Moosa Manik could be used in the efforts to divide MDP and create antagonism towards Dr Didi within the MDP. It has also been agreed that a group could be formed under Moosa Manik to protest against the new government and create unrest. It has been discussed that the end of MDP could be brought about through these protests.

4.4 MDP National Council

As Mohamed Nasheed directly controls the MDP’s National Council, it has been agreed that controlling the council and bribing members would be important. And it has been agreed to hold a meeting in the coming month of January to formulate a long-term plan to that end.

5. Securing finance

It has been calculated and agreed that a total of 43 (forty-three) million rufiyaa will have to be spent to complete the matters stated in this agreement and to fulfil the demands of the persons who will provide assistance. The funding will be secured through the political parties involved in this agreement and supportive businessmen. PA parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nazim will be tasked with collecting the funds and spending it in accordance with the agreement. And 20% (8.4 million rufiyaa) has been handed over to Nazim by the Jumhooree Party on 26 December 2011.

6. Maintaining secrecy

This agreement, the content of the agreement and any affairs conducted in connection with this agreement shall not be shared or revealed to anyone other than those who sign the agreement. As this is an agreement that is of utmost importance made in defence of Islam and the Maldives, it should be considered that safeguarding this agreement and the information contained therein is done in defence of Islam and the Maldives, and we agree to not share any of this with any other person.

7. Resolution

On this day, 29 December 2011, I agree with a sound mind and following extensive discussion to completely carry out the aforementioned matters, as they are necessary for the defence of Islam and the nation, with the involvement of everyone party to this agreement.

Download the original document in Dhivehi

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President Waheed hands flats to ‘top 50′ police, promises more

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has expressed hope that more housing will be made exclusively available for police and military officers, while speaking at a ceremony to hand over 50 flats on Hulhumale’ to law enforcement officials yesterday (August 2).

Speaking at last night’s ceremony in Male’, the president said the whole nation should recognise the role that the police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) played towards maintaining law, order and national security. He also called on officers to “uphold the constitution” and help ensure a peaceful election next month.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile has raised concerns whether the 50 flats – which it contends forms part of the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ (decongestion) project launched under the previous government in 2011 – were being given to the “needy” and most deserving.

Since President Waheed’s government came to power during the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, which followed a mutiny by sections of the police and military, more than 1000 officers have been promoted, while 110 new police officers were hired.

A housing scheme was also introduced for police officers, with 300 flats to be constructed in Hulhumale’, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for police officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.

According to the President’s Office website, while handing over 50 flats to specially selected officers yesterday, Dr Waheed also praised the majority of police officers who had served the nations for a long period of time under “difficult living conditions”.

He also praised Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, who took office following a mutiny by certain officers that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation in February 2012, for the “developmental achievements” to the institution made during his tenure.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that the 50 officers presented with housing were required to undergo an “internal” selection procedure, based on specific criteria outlined by the institution itself.

Haneef explained that all officers who applied for the housing were then judged on a points system using the aforementioned internal criteria, with the “top 50” officers being selected.

“Big concern”, MDP claims

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said it was “very concerning” that police should be given flats exclusively, to the detriment of teachers, doctors and other civilians. He also questioned how officers themselves had been selected for the process.

“The intention for these flats was for the needy and people who deserved them. This is why these flats were built,” he added.

Ghafoor claimed that while some of the officers may have deserved the housing, which he said had been set aside from the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ program established under the former government, there was concern that some officers involved in last year’s mutiny had been rewarded with flats.

President Waheed awarded the housing days after Commissioner Riyaz declared that police will continue to refuse any orders the deemed “unconstitutional”.  The comments were made as Riyaz expressed concern over leaked proposals for reforming the country’s security forces allegedly devised by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) should it win the upcoming presidential election.

“I don’t want to say anything specifically about something that has been prepared politically or for a political purpose, but we do have a constitution and the MPS is an institution formed by the constitution,” he said, speaking just over a month ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

Proposals in the paper – leaked on social media earlier this month – include transferring the police to the authority of city councils, similar to the system in the US, while providing salaries and allowances of officers through the Local Government Authority (LGA).

The commissioner also rejected the professional capacity of individuals behind the reforms, which he claimed sought to “dismantle” and undermine the large role security services play in the country.

“I’d like to tell the MDP that they should clarify whether it is their policy or not. If it is their policy, it is of great concern. This [police] institution will be very concerned,” he said.

“Politicians should not try to play with this institution. Help this institution develop. Work to make this institution more responsible. To make it operationally accountable. Don’t use political influence to carry out political objectives through this institution.”

Riyaz alleged that certain senior government figures over the last three years had attempted to limit or weaken police in the country through the use of political influence that led to officers “straying from their path”.

He insinuated that police would not allow a similar event to happen again.

The opposition MDP have continued to question the legitimacy of the leaked reform proposals, claiming the party had no knowledge of such a document, despite backing the idea of a ”transitional arrangement” to reform the country’s security forces after last year’s power transfer.

The opposition party continues to maintain that former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a “coup d’etat” after being forced to resign from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

The allegations were later rejected by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that ruled that there had been “no coup, no duress and no mutiny”, while also calling for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the country’s security forces following the transfer.

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“We will not follow unconstitutional orders, even if a new president is installed tomorrow”: Police Commissioner Riyaz

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has said his institution will continue to refuse any orders it decides are “unconstitutional”, while expressing concerns over leaked proposals allegedly devised by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to reform the country’s security forces.

In an interview on the Maldives Police Service (MPS) website, Commissioner Riyaz expressed concern at a leaked policy paper that he alleged sought to dismantle and undermine law enforcement, calling for the opposition MDP to clarify if the policies were genuinely part of the party’s election policy.

“I don’t want to say anything specifically about something that has been prepared politically or for a political purpose, but we do have a constitution and the MPS is an institution formed by the constitution,” he said, speaking just over a month ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

Proposals in the paper – leaked on social media earlier this month – include transferring the police to the authority of city councils, similar to the system in the US, while providing salaries and allowances of officers through the Local Government Authority (LGA).

The MDP last week questioned the legitimacy of the leaked reform proposals, claiming the party had no knowledge of such a document, despite backing the idea of a ”transitional arrangement” to reform the country’s security forces after last year’s controversial transfer of power.

The opposition party continues to maintain that former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a “coup d’etat” after being forced to resign from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

The allegations were later rejected by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that ruled that there had been “no coup, no duress and no mutiny”, while also calling for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the country’s security forces following the transfer.

“Dismantle” fears

Commissioner Riyaz, who took office immediately after the power transfer, said proposals in the leaked documents could not be implemented within regulations outlined under the Police Act.

The commissioner also rejected the professional capacity of individuals behind the reforms, which he claimed sought to “dismantle” and undermine the large role security services play in the country.

“I’d like to tell the MDP that they should clarify whether it is their policy or not. If it is their policy, it is of great concern. This [police] institution will be very concerned,” he said. “Politicians should not try to play with this institution. Help this institution develop. Work to make this institution more responsible. To make it operationally accountable. Don’t use political influence to carry out political objectives through this institution.”

Riyaz alleged that certain senior government figures over the last three years had attempted to limit or weaken police in the country through the use of political influence that led to officers “straying from their path”.

He insinuated that police would not allow a similar event to happen again.

With an estimated 3,500 individuals employed within the MPS, including a large number of families, Riyaz questioned whether any political leader would seek to “discredit” the institution.

“I don’t believe that someone who is working to become the leader of this country will do this because of these reasons.  This country will do this because of these reasons,” he said. “To maintain law and order in the country, firstly no one can govern, unless they are able to maintain law and order.”

Commissioner Riyaz added that the mandate of the police was set out in the constitution, adding that any reforms to the institution’s work could only be enacted by a two-thirds majority in parliament.

“We remain firm. We will not follow any unconstitutional orders, even if a new president is instated tomorrow,” he said during the interview. “Even if I’m not here, the rest will also not follow these orders. Maldivian politicians should know this. I believe they do.”

“Whichever individual becomes President tomorrow can no longer just change the constitution, the existing law. That individual, holding the presidency,  can only bring such big changes with a parliamentary majority.”

When contacted to clarify the comments within the interview, Commissioner Riyaz today forwarded inquiries to Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef.

Chief Inspector Haneef defined an unconstitutional order for the police as something that contradicted Maldivian law.

“Operationally we are independent. We do not follow political orders, but we follow the country’s law,” Haneef said.

He added that officers would refuse to follow orders “outside the law” whether they were issued by a president, or a superior officer.

Asked who was responsible for determining whether a particular order was unconstitutional, Haneef said the decision would be made in accordance with regulations outlined in the Police Act, as well as official codes and procedures outlined by the MPS itself.

“It is very clear within the Police Act [as to how a constitutional order] is defined,” he said. “Every person must be accountable for the orders they give.”

At times of press, Minivan News was awaiting a response from the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) over the correct procedure for reforms and the definition of an “unconstitutional order”.

Reform mandate

Speaking last week, MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor personally dismissed having knowledge of the leaked paper on police reforms, despite claiming that the opposition party had considered the need for a “transitional agreement” for reforms of the country’s security forces based on recommendations raised in last year’s CoNI report.

With the CoNI process concluded, Ghafoor accused the Commonwealth and the wider international community of failing to ensure reforms to strengthen democratic institutions called for in the report’s findings were met.

He alleged that the MPS had failed to fully be transferred from a militarised to civil institution dating back to the administration of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s before the country’s first multi-party democratic election in 2008.

“Gayoom had moved to separate the military and police into different bodies. In the end, he failed to do this adequately,” Ghafoor said.

Despite pledging to reform the police and military, the MDP said it was not planning a “witch-hunt”.

According to Ghafoor, the MDP was instead focused on trying to secure a “huge election majority” in order to carry out reforms with the mandate of the public.

“This will help solve everything,” he said at the time.

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No action against five officers facing criminal prosecution, decides police disciplinary board

The disciplinary board of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) has decided not to take any administrative action against five officers facing criminal prosecution over police brutality in February 2012, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ali Rasheed revealed at a press briefing yesterday (June 18).

Earlier this month, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) concluded investigations into allegations of police brutality against demonstrators of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on February 8, 2012, submitting six cases for prosecution.

The PIC also made a recommendation to the home ministry to take administrative action against the six police officers accused of brutality.

The Home Ministry forwarded the cases to the police disciplinary board, Assistant Commissioner Rasheed explained at yesterday’s press briefing.

“The disciplinary board has reviewed the cases and made decisions concerning the six police officers involved in these cases,” he said. “[The disciplinary board] has decided to dismiss one of those officers. On the remaining five cases, as the cases are currently at the court stage, the disciplinary board has decided not to take any administrative action against them until the court cases reach a definitive conclusion.”

A media official at the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) confirmed to Minivan News today that trials have begun on some cases of police brutality on February 8, while state prosecutors were in the process of interviewing witnesses in the other cases.

On February 8, 2012, thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets of Male’ in a protest march after former President Mohamed Nasheed declared that he resigned the previous day “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinying police officers of the Special Operations (SO) command.

Following an investigation into the violence on February 8, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) concluded that the heavy-handed police crackdown on the MDP walk across Male’ was “brutal” and “without warning.”

The HRCM recommended investigations by the PIC into the “disproportionate” use of force that left dozens of demonstrators injured and hospitalised.

Moreover, the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) – which controversially concluded that the transfer of presidential power on February 7 was constitutional – also recommended prompt investigations of police brutality.

“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 stated.

In May 2013 – one year and four months after the incidents – the PGO pressed charges against two police officers accused of assaulting MDP MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Mariya Ahmed Didi during the violent crackdown on February 8.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa was flown overseas for treatment of severe injuries sustained during the assault. The two MPs were dragged out by SO officers while they were hiding in a shop with former President Nasheed.

Nasheed was briefly taken under police custody before being released back into the crowd.

Videos also emerged on social media appearing to show SO officers brutally beating MDP MP Ibrahim Rasheed ‘Bonda.’

Impunity

According to a status update by the PIC on June 6, the commission investigated 29 cases of police brutality before forwarding six cases for prosecution.

PIC Vice Chair Haala Hameed told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on June 4 that the commission had urged then-Home Minister Mohamed Jameel to suspend the accused officers immediately.

However, Hameed said that the request was not adhered to and at least one of the accused officers was promoted.

Hameed said the commission had failed to identify the police officers in five of the remaining cases while 11 other cases lacked supporting evidence.

“These are not disciplinary issues, but crimes. Aside from sending cases to the Prosecutor General, we also recommended the Home Minister suspend these officers, because of the delays in prosecution. We believe these officers should not be serving in the police,” Hameed said.

Former PIC Chair Shahinda Ismail – who resigned citing failure to hold police accountable for human rights violations – explained to Minivan News in September 2012 that article 44 of the Police Act allows the home minister to ignore PIC recommendations if the commission is informed in writing.

Shahinda referred to a case involving Staff Sergeant Ali Ahmed, who was caught on tape kicking a demonstrator while he was on the ground.

The case was sent for prosecution while the PIC recommended administrative action against the staff sergeant to the Home Minister.

“I know for a fact he is still a policeman and was promoted after this incident,” Shahinda said at the time.

“It is really upsetting – a huge concern – for me that the police leadership is showing a trend where unlawful officers are acting with impunity. This can only lead to further violence,” she added.

Meanwhile, in May this year, the MDP accused the government of fast-tracking 117 “politically-motivated” cases involving its supporters charged with terrorism and obstruction of police duty.

“Why doesn’t the government take action against those police officers when there is clear evidence of police brutality? None of the police officers have been investigated or prosecuted in line with the CoNI,” said MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, who was himself arrested on February 8.

February 8 crackdown

While riot police and soldiers baton-charged the front line of protestors on February 8, Minivan News observed SO officers charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) area.

The SO police officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.

Al Jazeera news filmed parts of the attack from the rear and reported that on February 8 “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, [with] dozens left nursing their wounds.”

According to the HRCM report, 32 people filed complaints with the commission concerning varying degrees of injuries sustained in the crackdown, while 20 people submitted medical documents of their treatment of injuries.

Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person fractured a bone in his leg, one person was left with a broken arm and six people sustained head wounds.

Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report noted, and the victim had to undergo treatment at the operating theatre.

Moreover, the HRCM report into the events of February 6 and 7 revealed that 43 people were treated for injuries at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), while 28 people were treated at the ADK private hospital.

On February 8, Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area of IGMH.

One young woman who went to IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. The gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.

“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.

The BBC meanwhile reported “a baton charge by police on crowds gathered outside one of the main hospitals.”

“People scattered as officers sprinted towards them silhouetted against the lights of passing traffic,” the BBC’s Andrew North reported from Male’.

“Inside the hospital, dozens of Mr Nasheed’s supporters are still being treated for injuries, following earlier scuffles in the main square. Among them is Reeko Moosa Maniku, chairman of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party – who was with the former president when the clashes broke out. With a large head bandage and his shirt bloodied, he regained consciousness as we arrived. The police said they would kill me, he told us, as they beat me. Another MP was still unconscious in another ward.”

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Government paid Baroness Scotland £50,000 in excess of agreed consultancy fee

The government paid former UK Attorney General and member of the House of Lords, Baroness Patricia Scotland, £50,000 (MVR1.25 million) in excess of an agreed fee for legal advice concerning the Maldives’ suspension from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the 2012 audit report of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has revealed.

The audit report (Dhivehi) made public yesterday (June 11) revealed that a terms of reference (ToR) to hire an unnamed foreign legal expert was signed by the AGO on May 28, 2012, after the Maldives was suspended from CMAG – the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm – and placed on its formal agenda following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s allegation that he resigned “under duress” on February 7, 2012 amid a violent mutiny by sections of the police and military.

Auditors discovered that the legal expert – revealed in the media at the time to be Baroness Scotland – was paid £50,000 without signing a formal agreement in addition to a consultancy fee of £75,000 (MVR 1.81 million) agreed upon in the ToR.

“The Attorney General’s Office informed [auditors] that the fee paid in excess of the agreed upon fee was for further advisory and drafting work that was required,” the audit report stated. “However, we note that this additional legal advice could not be discerned [from any documentation].”

As the additional fee was 66 percent of the consultancy fee included in the ToR, “this office believes that the work could not be done without both parties signing an agreement in accordance with section 8.22 of the public finance regulations.”

Section 8.22 stipulates that consultancy work needs to assigned on the basis of a contract with specific terms mutually agreed upon.

Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim therefore recommended legal action against the responsible officials as the excess amount was paid in violation of article 47(b) of the Public Finance Act.

The audit report also noted that the AGO spent MVR108,902 (US$7,062) on plane tickets and accommodation for Baroness Scotland and her assistant for a visit to the Maldives, despite the lack of provisions for the expenses in the ToR.

The Auditor General’s Office recommended that such expenses for amenities along with fees for any additional work should be stated in the contract.

The report also revealed that the AGO spent MVR 16.9 million (US$1 million) in excess of the annual budget for the office approved by parliament.

A total of MVR 16.3 million was spent with approval from the finance ministry for consultancy work by foreign legal experts, the report noted.

The Auditor General’s Office contended that the expenditure in excess of the approved budget was in violation of article 96(c) of the constitution, the Public Finance Act, and public finance regulations.

Article 96(c) of the constitution states, “No supplementary expenditures shall be added to an approved budget without further approval by the People’s Majlis. Expenditures included in the budget shall be applied solely for the specified purpose.”

Among the cases for which the AGO sought foreign legal assistance were the termination of a concession agreement with Indian infrastructure giant GMR to develop the international airport, disputes concerning a border control agreement with Malaysian firm Nexbis and payments owed for the “Maldives Asset Tracing, Recovery and Repatriation Engagement” investigation launched in 2010 by the now-dissolved Presidential Commission.

The audit report revealed that a ToR was signed with a Singaporean law firm on March 1, 2012 for legal assistance concerning the contract disputes involving GMR and Nexbis.

Following the cancellation of the concession agreement with GMR, the law firm was retained under a second ToR for the arbitration process currently ongoing in Singapore.

The audit found that neither the fee nor expenses for the lawyers were stipulated in the ToR as required under section 8.22 of the public finance regulations.

Instead, the Singaporean law firm was to bill the AGO for its services at a price of its choosing, the report stated.

The AGO paid the firm a total of MVR 7.1 million (US$460,440) in 2012 for legal assistance and other expenses.

A British lawyer was also hired in November 2012 until the conclusion of the arbitration process involving the GMR contract without signing an agreement stipulating the price as required by the public finance regulations.

The AGO paid the lawyer MVR 1.2 million (US$77,821) in 2012.

The Auditor General recommended legal action against the responsible officials at the AGO in accordance with article 48 of the Public Finance Act.

Among other cases flagged in the audit report as ostensible violations of public finance law, auditors discovered that the AGO spent MVR 76,810 (US$4,981) for purchases and services without approval from senior officials as required by section 8.05 of the public finance regulations.

Moreover, the AGO bought airplane tickets worth MVR 45,994 (US$2,982) without seeking prices from at least three parties as required by section 5.03 of the public finance regulations.

Baroness Scotland

In August 2012, Minivan News obtained the terms of reference document for the contract, which was signed by then-Deputy Attorney General, Aishath Bisham, who succeeded Aishath Azima Shukoor in April 2013.

The leaked document also included a letter in Dhivehi sent from the Attorney General’s office to Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad requesting authorisation for Baroness Scotland’s “unprecedented work/expense” following her visit to the Maldives.

“There was no contract made. With this letter we ask if attached terms of reference are sufficient as a contract,” the AGO wrote.

Following media reports in the UK, then-Attorney General Azima insisted that the expenses for Baroness Scotland were made out of the proper budget code with approval from the finance ministry.

Baroness Scotland came under fire in the UK press after the story emerged in the Daily MailThe Mail established that the peer and former Attorney General had not listed the payment from the Maldives on the House of Lords’ register of members’ interests.

“Her entry says she has set up a firm to provide ‘private consultancy services’ but says it is ‘not trading at present’,” the Daily Mail reported.

In a statement, Baroness Scotland confirmed she had been “instructed by the Attorney General of the Maldives to give legal advice”, and slammed the leak of the terms of reference and “all communications passing between myself and the Attorney General, whether written or oral, pertaining to the nature and extent of that advice, as confidential and legally privileged.”

She additionally claimed to have been approached by both the government and the opposition, and said she had accepted an invitation to chair a roundtable “at which all parties are to be invited.”

“I am a senior barrister with specific expertise in the area of constitutional law, criminal and civil law reform, and am skilled in mediation,” she explained.

Baroness Scotland was previously scrutinised by the UK press in 2009 after she was found to have been employing an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper in her London home.

As the story emerged, MPs from the UK’s Conservative Party – which has long backed Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – seized the opportunity to attack the former UK Labour Party Cabinet Minister.

Conservative MP Karen Lumley told the Daily Mail that is was “disgusting that a former British attorney-general should take a well-paid job advising the new regime, which has no democratic mandate. President Nasheed was overthrown in a coup and the Maldives is now very unstable. Many of my friends there have been arrested by the new regime.”

Conservative MP John Glen told the paper that Baroness Scotland should “hang her head in shame”.

“What happened in the Maldives was a military coup,” he said, adding that it was “outrageous” that the former AG should be “advising a regime responsible for ousting a democratically-elected president.”

Former Maldives High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Farahanaz Faizal, described the government’s employment of Baroness Scotland as “absolutely shocking. If the government wanted legal advice to support the AG’s Office, the proper way is to request the UK government bilaterally.”

“To think that someone of her calibre would undertake an assignment to check if Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, Jamaica, and others of CMAG had acted against their mandate is disgraceful,” Dr Faizal said.
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Supreme Court takes over Civil Court case on legitimacy of transfer of power

The Supreme Court has taken over a case filed at the Civil Court by dismissed Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed, who had requested a ruling declaring that the transfer of power on February 7, 2012 was illegitimate.

The Supreme Court ordered the lower court last week to suspend its proceedings and send over the case files before 3:00pm on Thursday (May 23). The court order (Dhivehi) stated that the apex court would determine whether the Civil Court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court order was issued following a request by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for the Supreme Court to decide on the question of jurisdiction.

At the first hearing of the Civil Court case, the AGO requested proceedings be halted pending a ruling from the Supreme Court. However, the judge decided to proceed with the hearing in the absence of a court order by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court order was revealed today by the recently launched official twitter account of the Civil Court.

Dhiyana Saeed – also former SAARC Secretary General and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s first Attorney General – had first submitted the case to the High Court, which however decided that it was outside the appeal court’s jurisdiction.

The case was filed at the Civil Court earlier this month.

The defendant in Dhiyana’s lawsuit was Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who recently defected from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and is currently campaigning for former President Nasheed.

Nasheed resigned in the wake of a violent mutiny by Special Operations (SO) police officers, who assaulted government supporters, ransacked the ruling party Haruge (meeting hall), protested at the Republic Square, clashed with the military, vandalised the police headquarters and stormed the state broadcaster on the morning of February 7.

Saeed’s lawsuit noted that Shahid was the state official with the authority under article 121 of the constitution to declare the office of the president vacant, should an incumbent president resign or vacate the office.

“It was the Speaker of Parliament who declared the office of president vacant, be it had he done it knowingly, mistakenly or unknowingly,” Saeed told newspaper Haveeru. “This doesn’t mean Shahid committed a criminal offense. It also does not mean that he partook in the events or that he made the decision [maliciously].”

She contended that Speaker Shahid had failed to look into the circumstances surrounding Nasheed’s resignation before accepting the letter.

Saeed told Minivan News that she and her co-counsels “stopped short of asking for Nasheed’s reinstatement,” adding that she did not have “the locus standi to ask for a particular relief.”

“If the ruling comes in our favour, it might be possible for Nasheed to institute a second proceeding for reinstatement. As far as this case is concerned, our interest is in the rule of law and invoking constitutional process to uphold the legal order as stipulated by the constitution,” Saeed explained at the time.

Supreme Court intervention

Meanwhile, in her report to the United Nations Human Rights Council following a visit to the Maldives, UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul observed that it was “troublesome that some of the Supreme Court’s interventions are perceived as arbitrary and as serving the judges’ own personal interests.”

“Moreover, the Supreme Court is said to have taken away cases directly from the superior courts before they were adjudicated, without explaining which criteria or procedures were applied,” Knaul wrote.

The Supreme Court has on a number of occasions issued writs of mandamus taking over cases from lower courts. In November 2012, the Supreme Court instructed the High Court to suspend proceedings on an appeal by former President Nasheed concerning the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

At the same time, the apex court ordered the Civil Court to send over all files on a case submitted by a lawyer, Ismail Visham, disputing the legal status of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

The Supreme Court also intervened in litigation concerning a border control project awarded to Malaysian mobile security firm Nexbis.

Transfer of power

Following her dismissal from the cabinet by President Dr Mohamed Waheed last year, Saeed released a personal memoir alleging that Nasheed’s political rivals had conspired to assassinate him.

Saeed alleged that the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7 was the result of a premeditated and well-orchestrated plan, and questioned the findings of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), which concluded that Nasheed had resigned voluntarily.

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee commenced a review of the CoNI report and heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the security services at the time of the transfer of power.

Following its inquiry, Committee Chair MP Ali Waheed claimed that the report produced by CoNI was “flawed” based on the findings of the committee.

The CoNI report lacked “key information [senior police and military officers] had given” while “others claimed their information was wrongly presented,” the MDP MP said at the time.

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“Serious failings in the justice system entrenched impunity”: Amnesty International

Failure to prosecute police officers accused of human rights abuses and “serious failings in the justice system entrenched impunity” in the Maldives during the past year, Amnesty International has said in its annual report.

“These [failings] included the absence of codified laws capable of providing justice equally to all and the appointment of judges who lacked formal training in law without serious scrutiny of their legal qualifications,” the international human rights organisation stated.

“Throughout the year, authorities were accused of political bias for fast-tracking the prosecution of opposition supporters accused of criminal behaviour during rallies while failing to prosecute police and others suspected of committing human rights abuses during the same protests.”

The 2013 Amnesty annual report on the state of the world’s human rights observed that former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, 2012 was “followed by months of protest and political repression.”

Nasheed resigned in the wake of a violent mutiny by Special Operations (SO) police officers, who assaulted government supporters, ransacked the ruling party’s Haruge (meeting hall), staged a protest at the Republic Square, vandalised the police headquarters, clashed with the military and stormed the state broadcaster.

Since the transfer of presidential power, the security services have used excessive force “to suppress demonstrations that were largely peaceful,” the report noted.

In June 2012, the Maldives Police Service (MPS) however denied “in the harshest terms” allegations of police brutality by Amnesty International.

“Supporters of the former President’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were targeted for attack in February. Detainees were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment,” the report continued.

“Targeted violence” against MDP members plunged the nation into “a human rights crisis” in February 2012, the Amnesty report contended.

“Throughout the year, security forces frequently attacked peaceful demonstrators, including MPs, journalists and bystanders, in the capital Malé or in Addu, both MDP strongholds. Officers clubbed them, kicked them and pepper-sprayed them directly in the eyes. Around the time of Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation, from 7 to 9 February, police targeted senior MDP members for attack and tracked down and assaulted injured protesters in hospitals,” read the report.

Amnesty also reported torture and ill-treatment in police custody, including “beatings, pepper-spraying the eyes and mouth, denial of drinking water and, in Addu, incarceration in dog cages.”

The report noted that a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) established by President Dr Mohamed Waheed – which found that Nasheed resigned voluntarily – had taken note of “allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation” and called for “investigations to proceed and to be brought to public knowledge with perpetrators held to account.”

Criminal proceedings have however yet to begin against a single police officer accused of human rights abuses in the aftermath of February 7.

Impunity

In August 2012, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) concluded that the police crackdown on a MDP march across Male’ on February 8, 2012 that left dozens of demonstrators injured was “brutal” and “without prior warning.”

Based on its findings, the HRCM recommended that the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and Police Integrity Commission (PIC) should investigate the “disproportionate” use of force – in violation of police regulations authorising use of less-lethal weapons – and initiate legal action against the responsible officers.

On February 8, thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets after Nasheed declared that his resignation the previous day was “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinying SO police officers working with the then-opposition and abetted by rogue elements of the military.

The HRCM noted that 32 people filed complaints with the commission concerning varying degrees of injuries sustained in the crackdown and 20 people submitted medical documents of their treatment for injuries.

Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person fractured a bone in his leg, one person was left with a broken arm and six people sustained head wounds.

Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report noted, and the victim had to undergo treatment at the operating theatre.

The PIC meanwhile revealed in December 2012 that it “recorded 24 individual cases of police brutality related to 7th and 8th February” and completed investigation into 12 cases.

Six cases were sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) for criminal prosecution.

“In one more case, though police brutality was proven, there was insufficient evidence to identify the responsible policemen. Investigations of the remaining 12 cases is ongoing, but are expected to be completed soon,” the commission said in a status update.

In February 2013, PIC Chair Dr Abdulla Waheed told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee that it was investigating 29 police officers accused of using excessive force against MDP demonstrators.

The PIC chairperson could not confirm whether the commission’s recommendation to dismiss six officers of the 29 under investigation was acted upon.

He added that five cases were pending despite video evidence of police brutality as the officers could not be identified and 11 additional cases remained stalled over lack of sufficient evidence.

Former PIC Chair Shahinda Ismail had revealed that officers the commission had recommended for suspension had instead been given promotions. Shahinda resigned in October 2012 citing “major difference of opinion” with other members.

“What I’ve seen in the actions of institutions is that they have been giving a lot of space for the police to act with impunity,” she said at the time.

February 8 crackdown
An injured protester

While police baton charged the front of the protest march on February 8, Minivan News observed SO officers charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building.

The SO officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.

Parts of the attack from the rear were filmed by Al Jazeera, which reported on February 8 that “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, dozens left nursing their wounds.”

Former President Nasheed was reported among the injured, and received head injuries during the clashes. He was briefly taken under police custody before being released back into the crowd.

Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

One young woman who had gone to IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. A gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.

“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.

The BBC meanwhile reported “a baton charge by police on crowds gathered outside one of the main hospitals.”

“People scattered as officers sprinted towards them silhouetted against the lights of passing traffic,” the BBC’s Andrew North reported from Male’.

“Inside the hospital, dozens of Mr Nasheed’s supporters are still being treated for injuries, following earlier scuffles in the main square. Among them is Reeko Moosa Maniku, chairman of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party – who was with the former president when the clashes broke out. With a large head bandage and his shirt bloodied, he regained consciousness as we arrived. The police said they would kill me, he told us, as they beat me. Another MP was still unconscious in another ward.”

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MDP willing to discuss interim government with PPM: Nasheed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed announced the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) willingness to discuss enacting an interim government with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which the party believes is essential for free and fair elections to occur.

The MDP has desired the establishment of an interim government since the controversial transfer of power of February 7, 2012 and is open to holding discussions with the PPM to establish a transitional government prior to September’s Presidential elections, Nasheed stated during a press conference held at the Mookai Hotel in Male’ today (May 16).

“If PPM wants to bring in an interim government, we are ready to hold discussions. MDP wants an interim government. We at MDP have always wanted an interim government. But we need support from other parties to do that in parliament. If PPM is so inclined, we are ready to hold discussions with PPM to achieve this,” Nasheed said.

“For free and fair elections [to take place], we are encouraged that PPM has pledged to stop Waheed from campaigning on state funds,” he added.

The MDP is continuing its call for the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) recommendations to be implemented, with the supervision of the international community. Nasheed stated he was disappointed CoNI recommendations have yet to be enacted – especially regarding holding to account those who mutinied against the government and committed various brutal acts, including destroying the MDP’s headquarters.

Nasheed said that the MDP did not believe free and fair elections were possible with Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Defence Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim in their current positions, and has asked they be “transferred” from their current posts.

He distinguished between ‘rank and file’ Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MDNF) and their leadership. Nasheed said action should be taken against the highest ranking officers for their role on February 7.

MDP Spokesperson Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News today that local media reports of Nasheed calling for Riyaz and Nazim to be “forcibly removed” are inaccurate, however the former President has called for their removal and transfer “as far away from their current positions as possible”.

“They are already enacting measures of intimidation under the guise of ‘coordination’ by requesting political parties give the name of a person to work with the police. The Elections Commission should be enacting such a policy, not the police. It’s very strange and highly suspicious,” said Zuhair.

Should PPM be of the same view that an interim government is necessary for credible elections to be held, MDP would work through the parliament to discuss with PPM, Zuhair explained.

“PPM’s President and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has said their party would ‘go it alone’ and not form a coalition, because that would not allow policies to be implemented effectively. Then the natural next step [for the PPM] would be to gain parliamentary support from the only player able to give support, MDP,” said Zuhair.

PPM Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Nihan today rejected the likelihood of the government-aligned party working with the opposition MDP to remove President Waheed from office ahead of elections in September.

“I do not believe this is a possibility. If it was possible, we would have done this already I believe,” he said.

Nihan claimed that the PPM’s main concern at present was for free and fair elections to take place. However, he added that with the Commonwealth-backed CoNI concluding that President Waheed’s coalition government – which includes the PPM – had come to power legitimately, it would not back the MDP’s calls for the present administration to be removed.

Nihan added that, while continuing to support the present coalition government, many PPM supporters believed that the party presently represented one of only two political ideologies in the country. These philosophies he said were those of PPM founder former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and former President Nasheed and the MDP.

Nihan claimed that the majority of the country’s smaller parties, including those choosing to side with President Waheed in a pre-election coalition, were all rooted to former President Gayoom and his “political wisdom”.

“Strange bedfellows”

Nasheed also addressed the recent addition of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the President Mohamed Hassan Manik’s coalition – which includes his Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) – and it’s incompatibility with a democratic presidential system of governance.

Nasheed expressed his happiness about Gayoom’s statement that coalitions do not work because they are not in line with a presidential governing system and are instead more reflective of a parliamentary system.

“I am very happy that President Gayoom – [who is] no doubt is the most experienced political leader [in the nation] – has been very clear about how inefficient for democratic policies the formation of coalitions are in a presidential system,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed noted that the Adhaalath Party and Sheiks’ extremist views will pose difficulties for the GIP-led coalition. Although the DRP are billing themselves as a moderate party, they will not establish the national ‘bastion of tolerance’ they claim to be purporting, Nasheed said.

The former President believes the coalition is a “hodgepodge” mix of ideologies, not politics and these “strange bedfellows” cannot achieve anything.

DRP disintegration

Nasheed stated that the alliance between GIP and DRP is only agreement between the two individual and not reflective of grassroots DRP supporters. He believes that DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and Waheed had no other choice and formed the coalition out of sheer necessity.

He also stated that the recent coalition has not produced a “third ideology” and that only two ideologies exist in the Maldives.

During door to door campaigning, the MDP has noticed that DRP grassroots support is disintegrating. They are either merging with PPM or joining MDP, according to MDP Press Director Mohamed Zuhair.

Additionally, Zuhair discussed the distinction President Nasheed made between other parties and MDP. He highlighted that MDP policies are formulated by consulting every household to asses the Maldivian people’s needs. This is followed by holding consultative seminars, with the feedback passed to the party’s ‘organs’ for discussion, then to policy committees, with the process culminating in an announcement.

“None of the other parties have this method,” said Zuhair.

“So far three policies have been announced, and the fourth – agrobusiness – will be announced tomorrow,” he continued.

“MDP is focusing on policy issues, having to ‘go out on the road’ and stage protests to ensure free and fair elections will change the entire dynamics of the campaign. We are hoping it doesn’t come to that,” said Zuhair.

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