President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has assured Transparency Maldives of his willingness to include international groups in the inquiry into the events surrounding his accession to the presidency.
In a meeting with the local NGO, President Waheed and Attorney General Azima Shukoor also welcomed requests for increased transparency in the workings of the Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) which is charged with looking into the legality and legitimacy of the transfer of presidential power.
Transparency Maldives Project Director Aiman Rasheed emerged from the meeting confident that Dr Waheed would respect the importance of transparency and accountability in the inquiry process.
Rasheed told Minivan News that Dr Waheed saw an independent and transparent process as the way forward, and recognised that an enquiry which did not have the support of the people would only further political discontent.
The inclusion of international experts in any such inquiry has been urged by numerous international actors as well as the party of former President Nasheed. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Committee (CMAG), in a statement released after its own inconclusive enquiry into recent events, had strongly recommended an international element to any future investigation, “as mutually agreed to by political parties in Maldives.”
The largest party in the People’s Majlis, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), yesterday criticised the CNI for “dragging its feet” on the issue, in what it said was “a clear violation” of the wishes of the international community.
“The MDP hopes that the international community will immediately call on the Dr Waheed regime and the CNI to commit to significant international assistance in the investigation,” the party said in a statement.
MDP said it had received reports of that members of the police force willing to talk to the CNI were facing intimidation. MDP International Affairs Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said he believed that such reports only increased the need for international experts, including witness protection specialists, to help bring investigations to a successful conclusion. Ghafoor has previously drawn unfavourable comparisons between this investigation and the 2003 Maafushi jail enquiry whose independence was questioned and whose outcome was censored.
The CNI currently consists of three members: Ismail Shafeeu, former minister of defence and national security during President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s administration; Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Maldives National University; and Dr Ibrahim Yasir, former Director General of Health Services.
One member of the commission has already been reappointed. Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef replaced Ahmed Mujuthaba, who said his position as the convener of the all-party consultative meetings was a conflict of interest.
Transparency Maldives, which is scheduled to meet the CNI tomorrow with three other NGOs, including the Maldivian Democracy Network, Maldives NGO Federation and Democracy House, has been active in raising awareness of the detrimental impact corruption and opaque governance on society.
The group’s current projects include Parliament Watch, a program that aims to increase public scrutiny of the procedures and processes used in the People’s Majlis, and the CRINIS Project advocating for changes to political party financing transparency. Others include the Right to Information Project, creating demand for right to information for greater transparency and accountability, the Decentralisation Project promoting accountability and increasing citizen engagement in local governments, and Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres Project, helping victims of corruption with the legal systems in place.
It has also produced reports on media, and conducted surveys on corruption perception. In pursuit of its stated goals of justice and democracy it asked the President to consider allowing it observer status on the CNI. It also requested that the CNI’s findings be made public.