Government seeks CMAG clarification over CNI “independence” concerns

The Maldives government is seeking clarification over criticisms levelled against it this week by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) concerning the composition of an independent inquiry body set up to probe February’s transfer of power.

On Monday, CMAG set a deadline of four weeks for President Waheed’s government to review the Committee of National Inquiry (CNI)’s composition and terms of reference.

Speaking to Minivan News, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said that the administration was looking to speak with CMAG to clarify the exact nature of its concerns. He stressed the government would continue to work with the Commonwealth body over the latest set of calls regarding the CNI.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administration has continued to face calls over the last month from CMAG to hold early elections during 2012. These calls, also backed by international political bodies like the EU, additionally require the government to ensure an independent enquiry is conducted into its legitimacy amidst opposition claims that it had come to power in a “coup d’etat”.

President Waheed yesterday said that the government was committed to meeting Commonwealth calls for an independent inquiry, as well as agreeing to hold early elections. However, the president added that this could only be done by July 2013 under the present constitution.

The CNI is the body established by the president to conduct an independent inquiry into the transfer of power that saw Dr Waheed take office on February 7.

The president later established a coalition government made up of former opposition parties. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had itself refused to join the government as it continues to question the administration’s legitimacy.

CMAG concerns “not communicated”

Abbas said that the government felt the exact nature of CMAG’s concerns in the report were “not communicated”, adding that any criticisms should be based on clear statements.

“The government will enquire with CMAG about what exactly their concerns are,” he said. “The Foreign Ministry will request more information on this.”

As of yesterday evening, a Foreign Ministry official contacted by Minivan News said that the ministry would be issuing a statement giving its response to CMAG at a later date.

In a statement released Tuesday, President Waheed announced that his government welcomed an offer from Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon to “assign a judge to advise and assist the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).”

The President also claimed he would hold early elections as requested by international bodies such as the Commonwealth and EU, but would do so by July 2013 – “the earliest date permitted under the Constitution”.

As part of its statement following its meeting in London this week, CMAG, the body charged by the organisation to deal with human rights issues, reiterated the need for long-term measures to strengthen the capacity of the country’s judicial sector. It also called for fresh party talks between the country’s most senior political representatives.

The need for long-term measures to strengthen the capacity of the country’s judicial sector, as well as fresh party talks between the country’s most senior political representatives in helping resolve the current political situation was also raised.

Abbas Adil Riza said that while the government did welcome the recommendations of CMAG in regards to establishing administration’s legitimacy, he added that the it would do so only within the bounds of the constitution and the laws of the Maldives.

When asked if he was confident the government could satisfy the calls from CMAG relating to early elections and the impartiality of the CNI, Abbas again said that it would first be important to clarify what exactly was expected of President Waheed’s administration in regards to establishing independent mechanisms in the CNI.

When asked, Abbas maintained that the Maldives was committed  to remaining as a member of the Commonwealth.

“Obviously,” he responded.  “We wish to continue to be members in the organisation, but we only would do so under the regulations of our constitution.”

Opposition response

Whilst the government continues to seek clarification on the nature of the commitments expected of it by the Commonwealth, the now opposition MDP said this week that it too welcomed CMAG’s latest statement.  The party’s calls for presidential elections to be held later this year –  a stance former President Mohamed Nasheed continues to promote internationally – were also backed by CMAG.

MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor expressed particular encouragement for the Commonwealth’s decision to set a four week deadline to address concerns about the impartiality of the CNI.

However, Ghafoor believed that foreign assistance may be needed on the basis of mediation to move forward in resolving questions over the legitimacy of President Waheed’s position.

“The government has continued dragging their feet on both holding meaningful road map talks towards securing early elections and in ensuring the independence of the CNI,” he said.

“The next step now could be in third party mediation.”

Ghafoor claimed that mediation could be provided by asking a Commonwealth nation like India to try and help facilitate fresh talks such as all party roadmap discussion.  Previous attempts at such talks have stalled on several occasions during the last two months owing to disagreements between the MDP and several parties in Dr Waheed’s national unity government.

“In the next four weeks, we are willing to engage with the government on CMAG’s recommendations,” he claimed at the time. “We resumed [roadmap] talks but there are eight pro-government representatives compared to just one of us wanting to make decisions on a vote basis. Obviously we have a problem on how to move ahead right now.”


16 thoughts on “Government seeks CMAG clarification over CNI “independence” concerns”

  1. I suggest either Helen Clark or Kevin Rudd be brought to lead the inquiry commission and select Maldivians only to assist the Commission. No Maldivian should be put in leading role in the commission. But there are very capable Maldivians who have been out of country and doing PhD's in other countries and quite out of political arena.If we can compose a team of foreign diplomats along with 2 Maldivians it would make this commission integral and acceptable to all of us

  2. So the government has finally realised that they cannot take on an organisation like the Commonwealth and keep bashing it. Or is this what Jonathan Upton wrote for Abbas Adil Riza to read out?

    Pity though. I did enjoy Riyaz and Mahloof's little interlude on the CMAG and the Queen.

    Perhaps Minivan should have asked for a reaction from Umar Naseer. Now that would be what I would call quality entertainment.

  3. We also need to include in the agenda to clarify whether Nasheed broke the constitution just before he gave the resignation.

  4. Nonsense. Non of the forigners be allowed to sit in an investigation of the Maldives. If we can: we must be able to rule in England.

  5. The seven MDP clowns in Majlis including Hamid can form the enquiry and it will be the most recognised inquiry comission in the world. LoL

  6. I think Gayyoom, Dhunya, Yaameen, Ilyas & Qasim must decide if February 7th Power Transfer was legal or illegal. Because, this team's decision shall have same weight as rest of the population of the Maldives according to Gayyoom. Gayyoom is the most experienced body for heading such an Inquiry Commission according to DMAG (Dhunya Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom)

    CMAG is nothing for DMAG

  7. I guess they think they can drag their feet and circumvent the CMAG. Good try, but they are not going to believe you

  8. and DMAG certainly means nothing to CMAG!! why should they care what this dictatorial clan want? we are talking about a nation, nation building, democracy, free and fair elections and small as our population may be, humans who deserve and have the right to the best possible our leaders can give us! Maldivians, DO NOT ACCEPT anything less, not from an MDP government or any other for that matter!

  9. We don't even deserve to be in the Commonwealth with this illegal regime cementing themselves in. Perhaps that would be a good lesson for them! They have brought shame to the good name of our country after the first successful 2008 democratic election.

  10. Heh .... Exit Commonwealth and embrace Golhawealth, Villawealth, Champawealth and Lollywealth.

  11. So many educated people in this pseudo government and they don't understand simple English? Why don't you all go and get another fancy degree and leave us alone!!!

  12. Waheed and his spokesboy know full well the concerns of the Commonwealth. They are now playing the delaying tactic, by asking for clarifications etc. I can assure you that the regime will drag its feet over this as long as it can and will refuse to have any form of independent investigation into the coup. It will do so only when faced with serious diplomatic consequences.

    There are countless "independent" bodies in this country. Doesn't it strike you that not a single representative of those bodies are included in this supposedly "independent" inquiry.

    For starters, the Chief Justice should be there at least to check on the legalities of what happened on 7th Feb. The Commission should have full legal authority and should be free of the regime's tentacles. This can be done right now, with or without foreign expertise. However, Waheed and his compatriots who took power by force on 7th Feb won't do it.

  13. In February the catch phrase was arrest President Nasheed. In March it was "we want UN and not Commonwealth involvement". Since 16 April, with a 4 week time limit, it is lack of clarity! The potential for third party mediation and/or suspension is real.

  14. This kind of inquiry must be held by highly qualified lawyers and there should be what is called a public inquiry. That is to say that the inquiry holds its sessions in public, and they are even televised. Anything less than that will not be good enough. Lawyers refer to judges also in this case.

  15. foreign minstry will communicate or warn CMAG after mammon return he is on a tour to back the coup , Kaaminee dynasty, A Hopeless Dream


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