The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s calls to review the composition of the Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) are based on incomplete information, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has claimed.
Thasmeen’s comments were made last night during an interview aired on private TV station DhiTV. During the interview the DRP head also claimed that the CNI investigation into the transfer of power on February 7 needed to be completed before early elections could be held.
CMAG stated Monday it would consider taking “further and stronger measures” against the Maldives government unless it reviewed the CNI composition and mandate within four weeks. The Commonwealth body also repeated its call for early elections to be held in 2012.
The government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan later responded that although it would work with the Commonwealth over its concerns, it could not constitutionally hold elections until July 2013. The President’s Office added that further clarification was also required on the nature of the Commonwealth’s concerns relating to the impartiality of the CNI – the body set up to assess the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power on February 7.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which alleges that former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a coup d’état, has rejected the government’s claims.
Ahead of national protests scheduled for tomorrow, the now opposition MDP has claimed that elections could be held within two months without constitutional changes should President Waheed step down.
However, responding in local media to CMAG’s calls, DRP chief Thasmeen alleged that the Commonwealth had failed to conduct proper research before issuing its statement this week.
Thasmeen reportedly added during the televised interview that CMAG had decided the CNI inquiry commission did not have public support having only spoken to select groups of people.
“I was surprised that CMAG said so. How could they assess what the people of the Maldives think? Talking to a select few on their visits is not enough to determine that,” Haveeru reported the DRP leader as saying.
The CMAG must also provide further details on the measures the government is to take to ensure CNI’s independence, Thasmeen added.
“We don’t understand what they want to convey. They point out that the inquiry commission is not independent but they don’t specify what needs to be done to make it more independent,” Thasmeen claimed.
Moreover, no organisation can call for early elections until the investigation into the transfer of power is complete, he contended. Thasmeen added that CMAG could only press for early elections if Commonwealth values had indeed been violated in the transfer of power, but such a conclusion had not yet been established through an investigation, Thasmeen added.
“They cannot set the terms on such requests, and even if they do, it is not on the hands of the government to organise an early election. An early presidential election can only be held after revising the constitution,” he said.
When contacted by Minivan News, Thasmeen said he was unable to comment further at the time.
In addressing both the DRP and government response to CMAG’s calls, MDP spokesperson MP Imthiaz Fahmy said early elections were possible without constitutional amendments.
Famhy claimed that under the constitution, if President Waheed resigned, Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid would become head of state, a development requiring fresh elections to be held within two months.
Otherwise, “political parties will need to come to an arrangement to agree that a 2012 election will elect the president for a five-year term,” Fahmy added.
“We are asking them for a date. Once a target date is set, then we can make all the necessary arrangements. A date is the test of their sincerity” he said.