Comment: A mutiny against democracy

When retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim addressed the press for the first time following his appointment as the country’s new Defence Minister, he strongly asserted that there was no pressure from the armed forces on President Nasheed to resign.

He further claimed in front of journalists that the armed personnel gave no indication either way even when the President had asked them for advice.

However, in a video broadcast afterwards on RaajjeTV, the retired colonel is seen addressing the mutinous security forces at the Republican square on the morning of seventh February. In the video, he is seen coming out of the MNDF barracks, and telling the assembled forces over a loud speaker that he has conveyed their demands, which included the President’s ‘unconditional resignation’.

Clearly, the new Defense Minister needs to rethink this statement, and be more forthcoming about the day’s events.

Furthermore, why the new Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz – who had been sacked earlier – was seen carrying the President’s resignation letter is another question worth asking.

How Nazim and the Abdulla Riyaz, both civilians at the time, were allowed to freely walk into the MNDF barracks and closely accompany the President remains a mystery.

What is clear is that when the President is forced by the armed forces to resign under the threat of violence, held in military detention, brutally beaten up on the streets along with his supporters by the police, has an arrest warrant against him within a day of his resignation, and all the appointments made by his successor are known allies and associates of the former dictatorship that have been hostile to his presidency, then it is time to acknowledge the incident for what it is – a coup d’etat.

A puppet government

To be absolutely clear, Dr Waheed is a admirable man. He is an articulate and accomplished person, with a ton of experience and is eminently worthy of handling the responsibilities of the Presidency – arguably much more so than any candidate the main opposition parties has to offer.

However, the circumstances leading to his acquisition of power are vague, and the little that is known is corrosive to the country’s democratic ambitions.

Noteworthy among them is that the main opposition parties had publicly called upon the armed forces and the police to plead allegiance to the Vice President a week before the police mutiny even happened.

In a democracy, the transfer of power has to absolutely remain the sole prerogative of the people, exercised through the ballot box. This is a sacred writ of democracy that cannot – and should not – ever change.

A few hundred policemen should not be able to forcibly execute a regime change.

There is an ongoing effort by the opposition parties to portray the coup d’etat as a ‘popular’ uprising. But thankfully, it is trivial to discredit this assertion.

While there were 20 days of sustained protests by several opposition parties in the days leading up to the coup d’etat, the sparse attendance at these rallies – considering the sheer number of political parties behind it – proves that it wasn’t representative of the general public will.

Furthermore, Dr Waheed’s appointment brings with it greater portents.

Dr Waheed has little political influence or grassroots support to implement any independent decision. His fledgling political party hasn’t a single elected member in either the Parliament or a local council.

He is, thus, in a poor position to enforce or carry out the mandate of the people. Without the backing of the MDP, it is likely that the only policies he can realistically achieve are opposition demands that, again, have no electoral mandate.

“Rule of law”

Dr Waheed has also failed to strongly condemn the excessive police brutality against civilians on February 8, the day President Nasheed was released.

Despite having repeatedly vowed to uphold the ‘rule of law’, people were beaten unconscious, the ousted President was roughed up, and at least one senior member of Parliament was beaten mercilessly by the police under his watch.

His failure to reassure the people might have very well contributed to the arson and violence in the southern atolls, as supporters of President Nasheed torched police buildings and courts in response to the heavy-handed police crackdown.

The silence of the new President was only matched by the apalling insensitivity of the newly appointed Commissioner of Police who, when asked to respond to the excessive use of force by the police, insisted that the police always used ‘minimum force’ – and that he would leave it to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the Human Rights Commission HRCM) to judge if they had stepped out of line.

On the other hand, the armed forces forcibly took control the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation State media, renamed the station to ‘TVM’, as it was known during the Gayoom dictatorship.

The station is now a police propaganda outlet, and refuses to cover massive MDP rallies around the country, or the police brutality that has attracted condemnation from Amnesty International and other bodies:

A photo circulating on Facebook apparently showing defected police and MNDF celebrating in the courtyard of the state broadcaster, after taking it over on Tuesday.

Unity government

Dr Waheed has also said that he’s looking forward to forming a “unity government” and find common ground.

However, his appointment of Dr Mohamed Jameel as his new Home Minister puts a dark cloud over the sincerity of this effort.

By all measures, Jameel is a hawk. He led a strong, high rhetoric Islamist charge against the government when he was in opposition. His responses during his initial press conference were politically charged and combative, instead of the conciliatory tone Dr Waheed promised his government would have.

Jameel has vowed to raise terrorism charges against “those involved” – including President Nasheed. To his credit, Dr Waheed has called the comments “unwelcome”. However, if he is sincere about building peace, perhaps he needs to rethink his cabinet appointments.

The string of appointments of Gayoom regime loyalists and apologists to the cabinet and as heads of armed forces does nothing to quell the charges of political conspiracy.

When the legitimacy of the government is in doubt, and its willingness and capacity to deliver on the people’s electoral verdict is in doubt, and when these factors have created an atmosphere of extreme volatility, then the solution seems to be rather obvious.

An immediate election would restore the mandate of the people, and grant legitimacy and authority to an elected party, which would bring back some much needed order.

However, key foreign governments like India and the United States have failed to advocate this position, choosing instead to recognise the legitimacy of the newly installed government, backed by Gayoom regime forces, tainted business interests, and Islamists.

This decision has the potential to permanently reverse the democratic gains made by the country since the democratic uprising.

Dr Waheed himself argues that the political climate of the country is not conducive to elections – whatever that means.

Perhaps more likely is the contrary view that the conditions in the country are not suitable for the present government to continue, nor is it advisable for another – much larger – reason.

Setting a precedent

Other countries in the region, such as Pakistan, have experimented with letting the armed forces dictate the rulers of the country. And in the bargain, Pakistan has become a failed democracy mired in chaos and conflict.

It is therefore tragic that the Maldives is all set to follow in Pakistan’s footsteps, without even having experienced two election cycles.

Could future political parties in the Maldives come to power simply by winning influence in the police and armed forces? Will the demands of a few hundred uniformed personnel strip 300,000 people of their democratic verdict?

If the currently installed government is granted legitimacy, what would stop the country’s defense forces from pointing a gun at future elected governments?

The Maldivian constitution says that the ultimate power rests with the people, and the people alone. This is the central tenet of the constitution – the one line that decides that we the people are in charge of our democracy.

However, if this coup – this travesty – is allowed to take place unopposed, then we would have set the unwelcome precedent that a few men with guns can override the mandate of the people.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

Inside the MNDF base during Nasheed’s last moments in power:

Translation (provided by the MDP, Minivan News is currently verifying accuracy).

0:00-00:07 Moosa Jaleel: avahah, avahah, avahah {fast, fast,fast}

President Nasheed: Nikumey, nikumey, nikumey {Go out, Go out, Go out}

00:10 – 00:13 Nasheed: Anekahves…..alhe mee {Not again……..then this}

00:14-00:17 Nasheed: Nikan Kameh kobbala, Nikah kameh kohbala ,kaleymen {Please do something, please do something, you guys}

00:29-00:42 Nasheed: Nilaam, Nilaam ………gossa nikumey…. mulhi rajje halaaku kuranee kaleymen thibegen….Nukunashey. {Nilaam,Nilaam…..get out there…the whole of Maldives is being destroyed, by your inaction}

Unkown: Nukumeveytha? {Is it possible to get out?}

01:00-1:03 Unknown: Mariyamen rulhi aiss gen Male thalhaalanee. {Mariya and them has gotten angry and destroying Male.’}


26 thoughts on “Comment: A mutiny against democracy”

  1. Dr. Waheed is incompetent. he worked in a UN post in afghanistan. look at what he did to that place? we cant afford to have him destroy this country like that. please.

  2. Why cannot MDP accept that this is a change that the people of the Maldives wanted. Nasheed is responsible for his own downfall. He failed to live up to the expectations of the Maldivians. He failed to live up to the standards he promised to the people before he became president. The man had 4 years in office and failed to establish rule of law in the Maldives. There is evidence that Nahseed wanted the army to shoot the public and the police. I salute the army for putting the nation first hence protecting the public. Now we know the true colors of Nahseed we can never accept Nasheed as our president. If Nasheed resigned to avoid bloodshed why on earth is the man back on street burning public property and destroying the nation. In four years all what he has done is blaming the previous government. We were really hoping for a brighter future in the Maldives under Nasheed after 30 years of Iron fist rule. But this Man failed the nation beyond belief.

  3. Nasheed was an autocratic ruler, acting outside his legal mandate. True, the judiciary needs reform. But when the Prosecutor General, two of his own (former) Attorney Generals and almost everyone in the legal field of this country, International Commission of Jurists, and many other international organizations protested against the illegal detention of judge Abdulla, something should have been done. Nasheed should have listened.

    He has no authority to do "whatever" it takes to control any situation. He has to act within the boundary of the law.

    Nasheed only got 25% of the votes in the first round. It was with the help of Dr Hassan and Qasim that he could win the second round. When Nasheed decided to throw them away and work on his own, his government has lost its own legitimacy.

  4. I like to highlight few points
    1. Nasheed did not torch any institution. Buildings were set on fire in far south. At that time Nasheed was in Male (central province) brutally being beaten up by maldives police.

    2. There is no evidence pointing to Nasheed ordering to shoot at police or citizens. On the contrary Mr. From MNDF confirmed in a press briefing that Mr. Nasheed did NOT order to use weapon and did not even wanted to.

    3. Nasheed is only asking for an election. This shows his confidence in his popular support.

    4. Mr. Waheed rejects to go for a public vote thus proving lack of support to him and his party.

  5. Any civilized country should have a constitution that guarantees human rights, right to free speech, religious freedom, independent judiciary. Maldives is far from that and like other Islamic countries is doomed to fail!

  6. This is probably the first time in world history that a commander and chief goes begging his solder to do something and be totally ignored.

    If this is the status of the commander in chief in the eyes of the Military men, could they ever accept him as their boss?

    A Commander in chief do not go into the front line and order troops by bypassing the hierarchy. Solders get confused when hierarchy is bypassed.

    This video is not good publicity for ex pre Nasheed.

  7. He worked as a field officer in two of the most poorest countries. Afghanistan and Zambia. He learned to dictate to these poor people and he thinks that he can shove his policies down our throat.


    A BETTER WAY TO CONQUER MALDIVES: Cheaper and easier way. No need of weapons.

    Just put a sack full of dollars in front of the main gate of the Integrated HQ and the monkeys will leave their gun in their positions and run off with the sack.

    Yeah, same like selling their a$$$e$ to the invaders.

    Such a shame on you. All these years you guys NEVER had a MUTINY situation on an SOP. Where are the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst graduates and other silly grads? No need to answer; we all know - you sold your a$$eS.

  9. Good one as usual Yameen. We refuse to be a banana republic. We want government of the people by the people for the people thru the ballot box. P.s. MWHM is not admirable. He is a failed politician (no party or votes) who finally resorted to violence to achieve his long cherished dream of becoming president. For years he tried to gain popularity. Initially the people supported him, elected him to parliament. But he lacked commitment and resigned and went away. He never recovered his support. He went onto repeat the running away that he acquired a nickname. He joined MDP. But there were no votes for him in the party. So he formed his own party. That was only some paperwork. It collapsed actively and practically soon after it was registered. Mwhm is not a politician. He is a narcissist playing a role. The conspirators found an easy puppet in him. He knew he would not get to achieve his lifelong dream. He became desperate and joined the conspirators.

  10. doesnt matter if the military likes him or not, the people elected him, just like the people gave military their guns and training. you all answer to the people!

    besides, even if the military and police did not like nasheed, it is clearly a very small portion of them that wanted mutiny and coup.

    I am not an MDP member. ive opposed nasheed's unconstitutional actions. but i will not tolerate a buncha idiots gathering in male' for 20 nights and then use a few armed goons from military/police to topple our democratically elected government. if that was legal, then the state and people have justified terrorism. now another terrorist can try to change the government with fear and violence. and the cycle would go on. you use violence and once you get power, calls for peace? really think that would work?

    this is a coup, there is no legitimate government in the maldives now.we dont care if the US and India say shit. they should be ashamed of themselves. they were once great nations founded by great people. now they are just pieces of shit controlled by a few businessmen. corporate greed is ripping the world in to pieces, doesnt mean we maldivians should obey and follow injustice just coz it is popular in the world.

  11. one more thing, HRCM and PIC where not there when they beat up the people. They dont have the capacity to monitor every move of the cops/military.

    and their "open invitation" was just a cover up. Both of these institutions have already started monitoring when they made this "open request".

    and what about the travel ban court order? the CP and Waheed denies it will be acted upon, but the cops/military on the ground are acting upon it. Court Order from criminal court, right after chief judge abdullah was brought back.

  12. Robin, in response to your statement..."Why cannot MDP accept that this is a change that the people of the Maldives wanted." I would like to ask you, what do you mean by the "People of the Maldives"? What is your basis for making such an inaccurate statement in the name of the people of Maldives? Lets accept the fact that it was not the people of the Maldives who were behind his coup, it was Police, MNDF, Dr Waheed and the opposition leaders, and their supporters. How can this amount to the People of the Maldives? Can't you see the People of the Maldives, rallying for their right to a legitimate government and for their right to vote? Can't you see the People of Maldives, sacrificing their lives and their families to uphold the principles of democracy in this country? Please don't go around sprouting such nonsense in the name of the People of the Maldives, when you are obviously representing the interests of the terrorists who brought about this coup. If you want to know what the people of the Maldives are saying, tell you terrorist leaders to go for an election right now and then we can all that result, what the people of the Maldives want! And this isn't about MDP or President Nasheed and his supporters, this is about Maldivians and our right to vote in the Government we want and our right to a legitiate Government and we are saying NO to military dictatorship and we are saying NO to police and military brutality. Please face reality and get your facts right before you speak in the name of the people of the Maldives!

  13. Within twenty four hour of his presidancy, we found that Dr. Waheedh is a puppet. I have never seen police treating public like dangerous animals in three years of Nasheed's time. But within few hours of your illegitimate regime, all Maldivians have witnessed your autocracy. Dr. Whaeed, you have to pay for it. You have to resign immediately.

  14. Bastards...Nazim and Riyaz were both commanding the forces on the day of resignation. you've been addressing the crowds and with deadlines for Nasheed's resignation and so on. Where's that gusts today? Come out and show that to international community. Don't be such cowards today. No matter what you 2 say, we independent Maldivians were watching your game and we witness whats happening today too. You'll have to lie a 100 times to cover damn 1

  15. mdp seems to be the worst enemy of mdp. please accept that there are very wrottten tomatoes in mdp too. others are not saints either. but this time mdp is to blame.

  16. @villa zorro...we were a banana republic under nasheed and we will always be a banana republic...Half the population of Maldives are really stupid like you...

  17. Nasheed failed to live up to people's expectations. This is a party system i know. But he failed to bring people together and create unity. Orders came from activists in MDP Haruge and were simply executed by Nasheed. He was a puppet of people like Musthafa and Reeko. He failed to reduce corruption. He was democratically elected but has hinted that he would not hold elections in 2013. It was kula yellow that mattered to him the most. He wasn't a people's president. Opportunities were only given to young people after they joined MDP. I salute those who stood up against him. Whether a coup or not, they were courageous! Thanks for saving our tiny country! 🙂

  18. Hey you forget the transcript of Annis' video between 00:42 and 1:00

    nasheed: vazan jahaa behey... (use bullets on the gathered).

    Now i wonder why Minivan news didnt post the transcript of the video between 00:42 and 1:00. I really wonder why ! Is minivan news trying to portray only the side of the story they wish to convey ? Isnt true independent media supposed to portray everything and not the bits and parts that communicate the message they wish to convey ?

  19. Maumoon was right. He is the father of maldives. look at the animals he fathered. it makes me sick to look at these people who vowed to protect this republic, only to stab us in the back. SHAME ON YOU MNDP, SHAME ON YOU POLICE, SHAME ON ALL WHO SUPPORT THE BIGGEST BETRAYAL IN OUR HISTORY

  20. Maumoon was right. He is the father of maldives. look at the animals he fathered. it makes me sick to look at these people who vowed to protect this republic, only to stab us in the back. SHAME ON YOU MNDF, SHAME ON YOU POLICE, SHAME ON ALL WHO SUPPORT THE BIGGEST BETRAYAL IN OUR HISTORY

  21. I have seen the video and have seen the transcript done professionally. there is no mention of the word of "vazan jahaa" None at all. Logic is lying through his teeth like Gayoom.

    As for the people as Robin says I and the rest of the Maldivian are the people. Then Majority of the people voted in Nasheed as President for 4 years and we would vote him out next year if we think he is not good enough.
    I would not accept any President be throw out by Goons in the Police and MNDF.
    Even if Gayoom was elected in a free and fair election and got thrown out by the Police and MNDF, I would not accept this.

    It is a shame and a blot on India's reputation as the World's largest democracy that they have recognised this government knowing that the murky events that followed before Nasheed'd resignation.

    Personally I do not like a lot of stuff MDF has done and do not like imbeciles like Reeko Moosa and his ilk but what I hate is people who have no respect for humanity and human dignity. How on Earth can any Maldivian and any Muslim accept the brutal beatings conducted by the Police on the innocent civilians of Male?
    I do not condone what happened in Addu but when there is no law and order this is bound to happen and who broke the law first? The Maldivian Police Force in Male.

    We all should Get up, Stand Up for our Rights and don't give up the fight.

  22. You guys (MDP) had a good time for 3 years. You did some good shit. And also some bad shit. But now its over. Time to rethink and reflect for a while. Come back in 2013 stronger. Till then chill.

  23. Nova. I do not agree with you. Personally I think MDP messed it up. The question now is not the MDP but the deposing of a legally elected President by the Police and the MNDF.

  24. anni was a good president, until reeko moosa and mdp mother maria start ruling the country. i love mdp and changes they brought here. lets dance in night clubs like sarangey till 2013. cheers


Comments are closed.