Former President Mohamed Nasheed has called on parliament to create an interim, caretaker administration “which can lead the country towards a genuinely free and fair presidential election in which all candidates are able to freely compete.”
Almost a thousand Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) demonstrators marched around Male’ this afternoon, the first such protest in Male’ for several months. Minivan News observed only a light police presence and no confrontations with authorities, aside from one protester who threw money in the face of a police officer.
The demonstration follows a week in which senior members of the defence and military gave evidence to a parliamentary inquiry alleging the transfer of power on February 7 “had all the hallmarks of a coup d’etat.”
Those members included Brigadier General Ibrahim Didi, Commander of Male’ area on February 7, Police Head of Intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, Chief of Defense Force Major General Moosa Jaleel, Head of Military Intelligence Brigadier General Ahmed Nilaam, Chief Superintendent of Police Mohamed Jinah and Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh. All six have since resigned or been suspended from duty.
Notably, many of those summoned told the committee they had given the same information to the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), but claimed their input was not reflected in its findings: no coup, no mutiny, and no resignation of the President under duress.
President Mohamed Waheed in a letter to Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid has previously said cabinet members, government officials, and members of the security forces would “shun” the committee, alleging it was operating outside its mandate.
“Legal experts and the Parliament’s Counsel General have also said the Committee is reviewing the CoNI report outside of its mandate. So the government will not partake in anything unlawful,” government spokesperson Ahmed Thaufeeg told local newspaper Haveeru.
The MDP has meanwhile compiled and distributed an English summary of the extensive Dhivehi minutes of the testimonies released this week.
“As per the CoNI’s terms of reference, after the publication of its report, the document was transmitted to key national institutions for their review and necessary action. This included the People’s Majlis (the Parliament) which received the report and transmitted it to the parliament’s oversight committees for scrutiny on the same day. It was sent to the executive oversight committee on September 18 2012,” the MDP noted.
“The testimonies of all the main witnesses summoned to the committee demonstrate a remarkable degree of consensus about what happened in early 2012, and a common understanding of the legality of the change in government,” the party said in an accompanying statement.
“All witnesses stated, unequivocally, that the change in government bore all the hallmarks of a coup d’etat. All named the same individuals as being central to the coup – with foremost among these the current commissioner of police and the current minister of defence.
“All made clear that following a meeting between opposition leaders and the-then Vice President, Mohamed Waheed, in the weeks preceded 7th February, those planning the coup swore their loyalty to him and thereafter he was fully implicated in the plot.
“All saw widespread evidence of collusion between elements of the police and army loyal to former President Gayoom and the main leaders of the coup. All had seen evidence that the plot to remove President Nasheed included the possibility that he would be assassinated if he did not leave willingly. And all claimed that the evidence and testimony they presented to the CoNI was either ignored or misrepresented.”
Deteriorating relations with India
In a separate statement, former President Nasheed expressed concern at the “deplorable manner” in which the government acted towards the Indian government, and its “treatment of the Indian people with contempt and disrespect.”
“Maldivians and Indians watched on in horror, as Waheed systematically destroyed the close relationship between our nations. It is imperative that friendly relations between Male’ and New Delhi are restored,” Nasheed said.
“Time and again, we have seen their petty, juvenile and counter-productive diplomacy strain relations with important and trusted friends. This has had a direct and detrimental impact on the Maldivian people.
“The restoration of good relations with India will only be possible with a legitimate government in Male’,” Nasheed added.
Nasheed’s comments follow reports this week that the Indian government had declined a request for an official visit by Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla, who was seeking to set up a official visit for President Waheed.
“With elections expected in the next three to six months, [the Indian Prime Minister’s Office] was wary about Waheed or his foreign minister wrongly projecting a meeting for domestic political gains in the name of rapprochement with India,” the Indian Express reported.
Samad dismissed the reports and insisted that relations between the two countries remained cordial and “quite strong”, even as the Indian High Commission in Male’ released an 11 point list of consular grievances concerning the mistreatment of its nationals.
These included government departments withholding the passports and restricting the travel of Indian nationals, failing to renew visas in a timely fashion, charging disproportionately high fines for failure to renew visas, exploiting Indian workers, and failing to investigate threat calls to Indian diplomats.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that money was thrown at an MNDF officer. Money was thrown at a police officer, who did not react.