“There is no government worth maintaining at the cost of the death of any citizens,” former President Nasheed told supporters at a rally on Saturday night, explaining that he had rejected offers made by foreign allies to intervene during the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
Speaking at a rally of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the party’s presidential candidate Nasheed stated, “We are hearing many versions of what brought about my resignation on February 7. I am certain that the huge number of citizens who were watching that days events on TV would know very well that the events that unfolded then were unlawful. The question that remains in our minds is, what caused these events to unfold as they did?”
Nasheed said the country’s parliament, although it had existed for over 70 years, had only begun functioning in the active manner presently seen following the killing of Evan Naseem, a 19 year-old who was tortured and killed in prison on September 19, 2003.
“On that day, we can see how violence was utilised just to hold on to power. After the shootings in the Maafushi jail. After shooting at civilians and killing many unarmed people. After staining the sand of Maldives with the blood of the sons of Maldives,” Nasheed continued, “I, for one, certainly would never support clinging to power at the cost of violence against our people.”
He alleged that if the commanding officers in the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) who were on the scene on February 7, 2012 had made a genuine effort to control the mutineering police and army officials, they would have succeeded.
“After things escalated to the worst levels, some among the soldiers requested access to the armory. I realized it would come to that, and that it was a decision I would need to make,” he said.
Nasheed, who had denied authorising access to the armory on that day, continued, “Maintaining power through violent measures is not something we would ever do. This party, from upon formation, always promotes human rights of our citizens and stands against violence.”
“Many friendly states did offer to make an intervention on February 7. Some even said they could make interventions without the use of any weapons. However, I believe that what we have at hand is a Maldivian problem. How I see it, even the events of November 3 was a problem for Maldivians. An undesirable act, yes, but nevertheless a Maldivian problem.
“I did not think it would be a wise move for any foreign country to make an intervention to solve a defence issue of the country, which is why I declined the offers,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed spoke of the moment he had resigned on the state broadcaster, which had earlier been stormed and taken over by the mutinying police and demonstrators. He stated that current Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim had strongly cautioned him against saying anything that might create public panic, and had ordered him to ask senior officials of MDP to remain calm.
“On that day at 1:00pm in the afternoon, I talked of both these points I have just shared with you here. My statement that day included what I wanted to say, as well as what ‘Baaghee’ (traitor) Nazim wanted me to say,” Nasheed said.
Referring to the defamation case filed by Nazim against Nasheed for having referred to him as “baaghee” (traitor), Nasheed said he would prove to the people the court proceedings that Nazim was indeed a traitor to the state.
“I wonder if he [Nazim] intends to go ahead with the defamation case? I certainly hope he does. With the help of my lawyers we will prove that he has actively taken part in a coup and is, without a doubt, a ‘baaghee’,” Nasheed said at last night’s rally.
Nasheed then spoke of the testimony given by Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam to the parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee, saying he had always held Nilam in the highest respect, and even more so after reading the testimony.
Brigadier General Nilam was suspended from his duties at MNDF on January 19, after providing testimony to the parliament committee. The official MNDF statement read that the former intelligence head had been relieved of his duties as an investigation into the officer was being being carried out.
Nasheed stated that according to the laws of the state, the term “baghawaiy” (coup) was only used in the Defence Forces Act.
“In this country, a coup can only be orchestrated with the participation of military force. The current constitution does not define any ‘acts against the state’. The word ‘baghawaiy’ can only be found in the Defence Forces Act. Hence, only the defence personnel will be guilty of partaking in a coup. Everyone else would have committed unlawful acts,” he said.
Nasheed said that he believed only about 5-10 people from the defence forces had willfully participated in the coup, adding the same was true of the police forces.
“I understand that the law stipulates both police and army personnel to refuse to obey unlawful commands. However, I do not believe that every time an officer issues a command, each soldier should have to decide in their individual capacity whether or not the given command is lawful,” Nasheed said.
In conclusion of his public address, Nasheed referred to the elections which are scheduled for the last quarter of the year.
“We have been calling for early elections since the day of the coup, in vain to date. Some people might now say that the elections are very close, and suggest that we just wait for it. Well, I say that that simply cannot be done. We cannot go into an election while we are in the midst of a coup d’etat,” Nasheed stated.
“Elections are a very modern concept which is done in a modern manner. We cannot enter elections while the country is run by coup orchestrators. We must first rise out of this coup,” Nasheed said, in conclusion, pledging to his supporters that the party would work to achieve the goal and to cleanse the country’s reputation in international circles.
Defence Minister Nazim was not responding at time of press.