Commonwealth reiterates call for 2012 elections; government says July 2013

The Commonwealth has reiterated its call for early presidential elections in the Maldives before 2013, but said it will only consider “stronger measures” against the Maldives government should the administration fail to establish a “credible” independent Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan last week responded that “early” elections would be held in July 2013, the earliest possible date allowed under the constitution, and pledged to continue working with the Commonwealth nonetheless.

Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has warned it would take “stronger measures” against the Maldives government – which could potentially include suspension from the body – should the CNI’s composition and mandate not be amended within four weeks. CMAG also stressed that it saw ongoing talks between “senior” political representatives and early elections as the best way forward to maintain the country’s democratic transition.

The CNI was itself formed by Dr Waheed to independently verify the legitimacy of February’s transfer of power and the legality of his tenure as president, both of which are contested by the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The MDP contends that the CNI is stacked with supporters of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the country’s autocratic leader of 30 years who was displaced by Nasheed.

In a statement yesterday, the President’s Office claimed that the coalition parties making up Dr Waheed’s “national unity government” were all in support of elections being held in July 2013.

“The CMAG’s primary mandate is to defend the Constitutions of the Commonwealth member states, and the Maldivian Constitution is very clear on when Presidential elections can be held.  The government is confident that once the CMAG is fully aware of this, they will come out in support of July 2013 elections,” the statement read, also criticising the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for demanding early polls.

“The MDP’s advocacy for elections earlier than July 2013 merely serves to highlight the persistent constitutional violations of the previous administration.”

The now opposition MDP, which maintains that Waheed was brought to power in a “coup d’etat”, has contended that elections could be held within several months should Waheed resign and hand his powers to Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

Under the constitution should Waheed resign, the Speaker would run an interim government for  maximum of 60 days followed by a presidential polls. Earlier, Waheed’s government disputed the “conditions” for an early election, on the basis of high political tensions, economic viability, capacity of the elections commission, and weak state of the judiciary.

The United States has since pledged US$500,000 in technical assistance for elections, to be made available from July 2012.

Several parliamentary by-elections were also held last weekend, in which candidates from pro-government parties came to power in the Thimarafushi and Kaashidhoo constituencies.

“Stronger measures”

The exact nature of the “stronger measures” that could be taken against the Maldives remains vague, but could include suspension from the group. Fiji – another island nation – was expelled by the Commonwealth in 2006 following a military coup. The Maldives has meanwhile been suspended from participation on CMAG.

“Each country situation that CMAG has considered in the past has had its own particular characteristics. It would not be fair to compare one situation against the other,” said Commonwealth Secretariat Spokesperson Richard Uku.

“CMAG has always sought to engage constructively with member states, and the Maldives is no exception. We would not like to speculate about what ‘stronger measures’ might be considered by CMAG if warranted, but a range of options is available to CMAG, including suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth.”

Former High Commissioner Dr Farahanaz Faizal, who attended the CMAG meeting, has previously said that the nature of the “stronger measures” proposed against the government could potentially have serious ramifications for the Maldives ongoing membership in the Commonwealth.

Though she was not present herself at the time, Dr Faizal was led to understand that, when questioned about the possible nature of further action against the government, the meeting’s chair suggested that suspension of the Maldives from the Commonwealth would be pursued if concerns over the CNI were not met.

Despite having previously accused the Commonwealth of showing “bias” towards the MDP in calling for early elections, the government has said it remains committed to being a member of the Commonwealth.

“We wish to continue to be members in the organisation, but we only would do so under the regulations of our constitution,” President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said earlier this week.

Asked at the time if he was confident the government could satisfy the calls from CMAG relating to the impartiality of the CNI, Abbas again said that it would first be important to clarify what exactly was expected of President Waheed’s administration.

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), reportedly criticised CMAG’s investigation this week as being “incomplete” and “failing to address the views of the Maldivian people”.

Commonwealth obligations

Secretariat Spokesperson Uku claimed that the organisation’s “experience” had shown no member state wished to be placed in such a situation as to be suspended from the group.

“Commonwealth membership carries political, economic and social benefits for member states and is valued by our member states. It also carries obligations about adhering to certain fundamental political values,” he said.

“Suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth has practical ramifications in terms of a member state being excluded from official Commonwealth meetings at various levels and being barred from receiving new technical assistance in many areas.”

EU backing

Representing 54 nations, the Commonwealth’s stance on the Maldives is a bellweather for the rest of the international community. The European Union told Minivan News this week that it continued to back CMAG and its Special Envoy Sir Donald Mckinnon in pursuing early elections and an independent inquiry.

An EU spokesperson said that considering the Maldives’ recent political upheaval, it was working with the Commonwealth and UN over issues such as judicial reform. The issue of judicial reform was initially raised by former President Mohamed Nasheed, and ultimately led to his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, who Nasheed’s government alleged “held the entire criminal justice system in his fist”.

The EU spokesperson claimed that discussions on judicial matters had already been held with the Maldives minister of State for Foreign Affairs, adding that the country had also reportedly asked for Commonwealth assistance.

Former President Nasheed came under international scrutiny for detaining Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in the run up to his controversial resignation on Febraury 7 – a resignation he subsequently said was made under “duress”.

The former government detained the judge, who stands accused of several charges of misconduct, on suspicion that he was abusing his position and acting as a threat to national security. Nasheed’s government sought to resolve the impasse by appealing for help from the international community.

In a recent interview Nasheed told Time magazine that he believed the international community had been “very late” in providing meaningful assistance in assisting with the crisis.

Responding to the claims, the EU spokesperson said that the organisation had been approached “only a few days” before Feb 7 to provide assistance.

“Events then overtook Nasheed’s request,” the spokesperson said.

Government supporters are now pushing for Nasheed to face criminal charges for the arrest of the judge, which would potentially scuttle his election campaign.


23 thoughts on “Commonwealth reiterates call for 2012 elections; government says July 2013”

  1. "Government supporters are now pushing for Nasheed to face criminal charges for the arrest of the judge, which would potentially scuttle his election campaign."

    Only days after the illegal transfer of power, Umar Naseer told an Australian journalist that their (the parties who took part in the coup) aim was to ensure that Nasheed was barred from political activity for a "very long" time.

    This is the start of that process and the regime will do everything possible to scupper Nasheed's future political career. I am sure he is well aware of this.

  2. Maldives cannot hold early elections. The constitution states that if the president resigns for any reason, the deputy president should takes his position. CMAG cannot force antyihgn agaisnt our constitution and we cannot eve do.

  3. @Heyoedheymeehaa

    did u even read the Maldivian constitution thoroughly? Oh please, talk not what you know not of.

  4. Heyoedheymeehaa

    You mean to say that the Consitution allows a coup? Please kindly refer me to the appropriate article. Thank you

  5. Did any of you who are asking CMAG about Maldivian constitution had read it .. What a waste of people... no logic, no ethics, no morals ..can only support a coup ... Is it constitutional people.? Shame on this bare brain Maldivians

  6. yes i have read the constitution and it does not allow to have the early election and it clearly states that deputy to take over the office for what ever reasons resigns or dies or become handicap or become mad or any reason why president can not perform his duty.

    What measures common wealth can take and non of their measures are going to hurt Maldives. But if it is the European Union then it will hurt Maldives and not common earth.

    I do not think any country is going to follow common wealth path in taking extreme measures against Maldives and it will only be limited to CMAG and nothing else.

  7. Panicky retorts from Coup sympathizers reflect the Administration's mood! Their "official" statements are sounding defensive and cornered with accusations of impartiality on the part of the CMAG. This is to be expected considering membership of the Maldives in this prestigious and powerful committee was suspended because of a shameful act by the same. They are finding it impossible to defend what they have done.

  8. heyoedhey meehaa, did the constitution says that the deputy president can form a new cabinet with all cronies of the old guard? Did the constitution speaks anything about change of policies of the former government? You know nothing about constitution what you know is magumathee ge qaanoon. If anybody could go against the international community Saddam, Gaddafi these mighty kings could have done it. And our status? we even import the drop of that water we drink.

  9. KK Batti, you know nothing about international politics. you dont have sense of democractic values you must be an intellectual of the old dictatorship. You cannot be as smart as the democractic masters like commonwealth masters. What if Gasim, and other business Giants are barred from visiting commonwealth countries. can they import liquor, pork and beautiful massage girls for their resorts? just telling commonwealth go to hell would not do ok.

  10. gross domestic products of Maldives ?????
    crazy Maldivians should think !!!

  11. heyoedheymeehaa, where in the constitution that it is mentioned that the vice president must meet the hardcore religious millitants at midnight in his official residence? where is it mentioned in the constitution that the military and police raise against the democratically elected government? where is it metioned in the constitution that the military and the police invite the vice president to take the oath of presidency at the president's office? what do u call all these events a coup ? you give any name it cannot be termed other than a what u know of the Maldives Constitution?

  12. ''Representing 54 nations, the Commonwealth’s stance on the Maldives is a bellweather for the rest of the international community'' welll said MN, CEMAG's stance is indeed a bellwether.In the Maldives, the bell is around the neck of Dr Waheed (the castrated ram) to lead the flock. Gayyoom is the shepherd. Nazim, Riyaz, Fayaz are the sheepdogs! Lead them all to the abattoir shepherd

  13. The constitution is written to protect the old regime. Annie was right to try and dismantle the evil judicary!

  14. All political appointees of Foreign Ministry should resign and go home.
    Dr Waheed should replace them immediately if he wants any credibility!

  15. Mode, you are delusional and desperate, just like the current government. If you people can't appreciate the seriousness of CMAG's call well then I guess you guys will just have to wait and see and learn it the hard way. The bottom line is that a group of gangsters can't just bring a coup and come into power and expect all Maldivians and the international community to watch and do nothing. Not all countries are as stupid as India and the USA to acknowledge a coup government as a legitimate government.

  16. Unfortunatly many people who are saying ignore the Commonwealth have no idea of international policy. Yes you can choose to leave, but where does that leave your country when so much of your business, trade and travel rights is taken away from the Maldives. The majority of these agreements are tied into the Commonwealth Membership. To replace these agreements takes time and the Maldives wont have the same bargaining power with other member states as you will no longer be entitled to the perks of the membership. No more scholarships to UK or Aus, nor will you have the right to freely gain access to the techincal assistance and Aid your country benefits from. The commonwealth doesnt need you, but has a responsibilty to ensure you are free to choose who govern you. Stop refering to the constitution, it was written by a group of men to benefit the few. Constitutions are supposed to be a guideline, but the reason we have a brain is to adjust to different situations when needed. If the whole of your goverment was wiped out in a disaster would you sit there doing nothing because the Constitution doesnt mention that possibilty. The rule of government in any country can be decided at anytime by a legimate vote by the people,it's called democracy, not when it suits ministers holding on to power they are un-elected to.

  17. The Foreign Ministry is now run by a bunch of amateurs. The people who are managing the policies are Prince Jeffrey Salim Waheed, Ahmed Sareer, Shiyaan, and Inaya. What will they know of dealing with the well-established foreign service cadre of other Commonwealth countries at the CMAG? Why haven't the government appointed an experienced person as the High Commissioner to the UK leaving the embassy in the hands of junior staff? What happened to Dr. Ali Haidar who was promised the post?

    Sadly the days of experienced Foreign Ministers like the late Fathulla Jameel, Abdulla Shahid, Dr. Shaheed and talented diplomats like Abdul Gafoor Mohamed and Ahmed Latheef are now gone. WIth Kerafa Naseem came a bunch of unqualified amateurs and unfortunately it is the same now. MDP failed to bring new people into the Foreign Service and train them, and half-baked amateurs and those without capacity were given promotions that they could not cope with. People like Naseer were given the post of Foreign Secretary, something the whole Ministry is still laughing about. And now that these people are trying to convince the international community against the work of people like Dr. Shaheed what do you expect but total failure?

    Meanwhile Dr. Samad seems to do nothing but tweet what Dunya Maumoon is doing and Dunya Maumoon does nothing but promote her father and try to erase the story of the 30 year old dictatorship from the annals of our foreign service history. When you send people like AG Azima Shakoor to the CMAG who have no clue what diplomatic jargon is, then this is the result we see today. Why didn't the government send experienced diplomats like Hussain Shihab or Ahmed Khaleel to face Farahanaz? At least they would have pulled a few pegs off her.

  18. Retired, you are talkin about Dr Waheed's credibility? He's too scared to even start an independent and impartial investigation on Nasheed's resignation and thus his own presidency. How can someone who came into power by force have any credibility? He lost all credibility and his reputation the day he made the deal with the devils in PPM, JP, and DRP. He'll never get it back and he'll never be able to live a peaceful life here!

  19. MM, there is a strong possibility that David(aka Dr Waheed)have sensed that Dr Ali Haidar Ahmed might not sell their story to Her Majesty's government.It would be a difficult job for someone like Dr Haidar who is honest and has high morals and ethos.

  20. Leave Commonwealth and be the "boss" of the body!
    Bravo Dr. Waheed! You are an unusual "boss"!

  21. It looks like Waheed and co are equating the constitution with the Quraan!!! Only the Quraan cannot be revised.

    For two months Waheed has been saying the constitution has to be changed. So whats stopping this from happening?

    Why cannot it be changed?

    Also for two months Waheed has been ignoring calls for international participation in the CNI.

    What was stopping him from doing so?

    An elected President says he was forced to resign under duress. He represents the people who voted for him. Over 50 % of the population.

    We need an answer Dr Waheed. President has said he was forced to resign. The least you can do as the VP he appointed is to respect the vote we gave President Nasheed and you as VP and order a proper investigation. By not listening to him, you are demonstrating to us who voted for you that you are not interested in us.

    Dr Waheed, can't you see how clever Abdulla Shahid was to put you in the hot seat. Cant you see you have been had! Look at what the Speaker of Mali did! THAT is political maturity. This is plain GREED. You Dr waheed is the biggest loser in all of this. Not Nasheed.

    Its time Dr Waheed that you really got that what has so infuriated us is your refusal to listen to a nation that is calling for truth and justice.

    As I have said before this is not about Nasheed, it is about rule of law.

    Its never too late to restore integrity, Dr Waheed, find the courage and bring us the truth about what really happened on February 7 2012. Katchah elhey bingaleh ketchaa hamayah dhiyyas hunnanee katchah.

  22. everything in this country will be calm and lawful after the old dictator dies may god take his soul sooner and save our country Aameen


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