The former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) chiefs have claimed that former President Mohamed Nasheed had no choice but to resign on February 7, 2012, following a police and military mutiny.
The allegations were made public after meeting minutes of Parliament’s Executive Oversight committee were published in the parliament’s website.
The committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the controversial transfer of power that took place. It has so far interviewed senior military officers, police officers and senior officials of both the current and former government.
Among the interviewees were former Chief of Defence Force (retired) Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh, and former MNDF Male’ Area Commander (retired) Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi.
Others interviewed included former intelligence heads of the MNDF and police: Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam and Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed.
On February 7 2012, a continuous 22 day protest led by then opposition politicians, religious scholars and later joined by mutinying military and police officers, led to the sudden resignation of President Nasheed. The protests were fueled following Nasheed’s controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.
The ousted President subsequently alleged he was forced out of office in a coup d’état. However, this claim was challenged in report by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which found the transfer of power legitimate and constitutional.
“No other way for Nasheed” – former Chief of Defence Force Moosa Ali Jaleel
Chief of Defense Force Moosa Ali Jaleel told the committee that the circumstances leading up to the resignation of former President gave rise to the fact that resignation was obtained by “illegal coercion”.
“I fully believe that President [Nasheed] resigned under duress,” he said.
Jaleel refused to describe the transfer of power as coup, stating that this should be decided by the court. However, he claimed that the transfer of power only took place because it involved assistance from the military.
“What I am saying is that the military was there when about 15,000 protesters gathered during protests of August 12-13 2004, but the government did not topple. There was a armed attack by the Tamil Tigers on November 3, 1988, and the government did not topple. But on February 7, 2012, during a protest of 2500, the government was toppled. I am referring to the statistics,” he said.
He added that the circumstances and the violent environment around the MNDF headquarters meant that “there was no other way for President Nasheed [than to resign].”
“The control of the MNDF Headquarters was not with the president, but it was exactly the way the Defense Minister wanted,” he alleged.
Jaleel added that no president could be sure of his safety when those officers who were supposed to look after his security began to call for his resignation. He would know his power no longer exists and his command no longer followed, added Jaleel.
“It is a coup” – former military intelligence head Ahmed Nilam
Former MNDF intelligence chief Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam echoed Jaleel’s remarks. Asked whether the toppling of Nasheed was a coup or a revolution, he claimed it was a coup.
“Academically speaking, the events on February 7 fulfilled all the essentials of a coup. It involved all the features of a coup that are widely accepted around the world. Some of the elements take place before the toppling of a president. Others take place spontaneously,” he said.
Nilam said he studied the events after the incident took place, which fitted an academic’s definition of a coup. However, Nilam also highlighted that it was up to a court to legally determine whether it had been a coup or not.
Asked if he had given the same details to the CNI, Nilam said he did given the same statement to the commission but it had not been reflected in its result.
He also reiterated that had not for the military assistance in the toppling of the government, there would have been no coup and Nasheed would not have been forced to resign.
“Police officers disobeyed their orders” – former Commissioner of Police
In his statement to the committee, Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh alleged that police officers who gathered in Republican Square on February 7 had disobeyed orders and their actions were grossly inconsistent with the Police Act, as well as professional standards established within the police.
Recalling the events, Faseeh said that he had done everything he could to control the situation but said there came a point where the officers had openly mutinied and disobeyed his orders.
“The actions of the police officers that night were unlawful. I am not a lawyer, so I can’t go into the details. But a lot of unlawful activities were carried out by the police,” he claimed.
However, Faseeh said that he did not know whether Nasheed had resigned under duress because he had not been present with him in the MNDF headquarters.