The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has released a statement dismissing the claims of former President Mohamed Nasheed that they could not access the armory because he did not grant them the permission to do so, during the events of February 7.
Former President Nasheed, in a rally held on the island of Dhidhdhoo in Haa Alif Atoll, claimed that a lot of senior MNDF officials repeatedly asked his permission to access of the armory but he had denied all such requests because he did not want to resort to bloodshed and violence, and had no desire to shoot his own people.
Nasheed during the rally questioned the armed forces: “Twelve days ago, people were not shot [by the military] because I did not let them open the armory. I wonder on what basis are the [MNDF] coming out with live arms now?”
MNDF officers were deployed with firearms to protect President Dr Mohamed Waheed during his recent visit to Addu City.
Nasheed continued, saying “Listen when I say this. Don’t come out with live arms in front of the people. What you are trying to do is something that could ruin generations to come.”
The MNDF said in its statement that they had decided that the situation of February 7 did not require the use of the armory, and that they had not seen the necessity to resort to the use of weapons to crack down on the anti-government protesters.
The MNDF statement also said that regulations regarding access to the armory did not require the approval or authorisation from the Commander in Chief (President) or the Chief of Defence.
The statement read: “In the situation that took place on 7 February 2012, MNDF decided that there wasn’t a circumstance where the requirement of live arms was a necessity.”
“As per the regulation of access to the armory, there is no requirement to obtain an authorisation from either the Commander in Chief of the armed forces or the Chief of Defence force when the need to access the armory arises. Also, there aren’t any stipulations in the regulation which requires informing the President every time the armory is accessed or opened.”
“Despite the full knowledge of these regulations, the remark made by former President Mohamed Nasheed regarding access to armory is a false and untrue statement,” the MNDF said.
The Maldives Defence Force Act (Act no.1/2008) states in Article 9, clause (d) that Commander in Chief has the power to exercise any legal power or authority vested in the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence or any other Senior Defence Force official.
Speaking to Minivan News, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu said “According to the Maldives Defence Force Act, the President, as Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, has the authority by law to exercise any power vested to any senior official of the Defence Force or the Minister.”
“Especially when peace and order of the society is in question, the president has the authority by law to authorise or reject any such request access to armory. I think the officers had not understood this when they released such a statement,” Tholhath said.
The MNDF’s spokesperson had not responded at time of press.