Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee has summoned the former intelligence heads of both the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the Maldives Police Service (MPS) as part of an inquiry into the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.
Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam and former Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed were separately summoned today to attend the closed door meetings.
Nilam was summoned first at 12:00pm, with Hameed addressing the committee at 1:00pm.
According to local media, chair of the committee, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Waheed, said that the decision had been taken to hold the meeting behind closed doors to ensure any potentially sensitive intelligence information remained confidential.
The select committee last month agreed, with bipartisan support, to summon Nilam, Hameed and former SAARC Secretary General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed.
The committee at the time decided that all three individuals would be summoned to parliament separately on January 9. According to the local media, Saeed was to be summoned at 11:00am today, but requested that her hearing be postponed over personal issues.
Saeed is being summoned over a personal memoir released to the media last month. The contents of the memoir included allegations that certain figures behind protests leading to the controversial transfer of power on February 7 had also planned to assassinate former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Failure to come to an understanding over issuance of a legal order
Meanwhile, the committee today failed to reach an agreement over issuing a legal order requiring President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik to provide evidence gathered by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).
The CNI was charged to review the circumstances behind the change of government, concluding that the transfer of power took place constitutionally despite the MDP’s claims of a coup d’état.
The parliamentary committee had called for a vote amongst its members over whether to issue a legal order to obtain statements given to CNI by senior Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) figures and officials of the former government. However, the vote failed to secure a required committee majority of 6 members to be passed.
Although backed by all five MDP members on the committee, the vote was short of a sixth and decisive supporter with government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan Hassan Manik voting against the motion. His fellow party member MP Ahmed Shareef abstained from the vote.
The statements that the committee had intended to obtain from the government included the accounts given to the CNI of former Defense Minister Tholthath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, former Home Minister Hassan Afeef and former Chief of Defense Force retired Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel. The testimonies of former Male’ Area Commander retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh would also have been requested among others.
The committee had previously sent a letter to President Waheed requesting for him to provide it members with the stated documents. The request was denied.
Some sitting members of the committee at the time expressed their dismay with the president’s response, arguing that the only option left for the committee was to issue a legal order.
However, in order to issue a legal order, the matter should be approved by an absolute majority of at least six committee members.
Following the failure to obtain a legal order today, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor questioned the government’s decision not to supply the information.
“There is absolutely no way as per the constitution where the executive can hide its actions from the parliament. The constitution has given the parliament immense powers in terms of government accountability to the extent that the government cannot even take a loan without parliament’s consent,” he said.
Ghafoor added that while the MDP held a parliamentary majority, it was aiming to conduct the inquiry with bipartisan support.
“We don’t want to make this a political issue. This is a national issue. We are trying to confirm the legitimacy of an installed government. Party politics is not what we are interested in,” he added.