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.”