Home Minister Mohamed Jameel has said the Maldives now provides a much “better environment” for the country’s political factions to work towards stability following the publication of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report.
Speaking following a parade held yesterday in Male’ to commemorate the country’s Independence Day, rescheduled from earlier this year, Dr Jameel claimed that with the conclusion of the CNI’s work late last month, the government was now able to move ahead with its duty of serving the public.
The CNI’s findings, welcomed by the Commonwealth, US and the UN, rejected accusations that the present government came to power illegally, despite claims from former president Mohamed Nasheed that the report’s findings were flawed and failed to include key witness statements and evidence in its findings.
The now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – of which Nasheed is the current presidential candidate – today said that it continued to hold severe structural concerns about the CNI’s conclusions. The concerns themselves were highlighted in a report prepared by Sri Lankan legal experts after a request from the MDP.
Despite these concerns, the MDP has claimed the CNI report’s publication had provided the party with a “way forward” to push for institutional reform and early elections, whilst also lobbying to keep the Maldives on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). The party has contended that remaining on the agenda will help maintain international pressure on the government to enact a reform agenda – the need for which was raised in the CNI’s findings.
Home Minister Dr Jameel told Minivan News today that from the government’s perspective, the issue of February’s transfer of power had been firmly settled through the CNI’s findings. Dr Jameel claimed that any further political resolutions should be settled domestically.
“We will not dwell further on the same issue [CNI]. As a nation, reforms to the government and other institutions is an ongoing agenda like any other nation,” he said. “I do not believe that any international organisation, country or individual has the mandate or authority to dictate to us our national priorities and reform agenda – be it the Commonwealth or its Secretary General. We appreciate their engagement, but [the Commonwealth] should also recognise our need to move forward and allow us to find local solutions to local problems.”
Dr Jameel claimed that rescheduling the national Independence Day parade from July until yesterday was a timely reminder of the “importance of national unity, mutual respect and shared values.”
“It is more relevant now than at any point in history as the country is increasingly seen to be drifting away from those values due to political emotions, opinions and other exposures,” he said.
The Independence Day parade, which was concluded with a special ceremony at the Galolhu Stadium in Male’, was attended by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and his wife, First Lady Ilham Hussain.
Independence Day is celebrated on July 26, though Dr Jameel, who was also in attendance at the ceremony, said that the parade had been delayed from July owing to “time constraints” and had to be rescheduled to consider outstanding engagements of its participants.
Addressing the home minister’s claims that the Maldives was now a “better environment” to address political differences following the CNI’s publication, MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the MDP had offered to try and work with the government to pursue institutional reforms.
Ghafoor claimed these efforts had included attempts to try and work within Dr Waheed’s coalition government in what it called the “common interests” of the public – a strategy that was later rebuffed.
“We do not want to be working with this government, we ourselves want to see early elections as soon as possible,” he said earlier this month.
Ghafoor claimed today that despite its reservations about the validity of the CNI’s findings, the party would continue to lobby to keep the Maldives on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to maintain international pressure on the government for early elections and institutional reform.
“We simply do not believe that the CNI report legitimises the government. If the [transfer of power] was not a coup then why are the country’s former opposition now leading the executive,” he said. “The structural issues that we have [with the CNI’s findings] will not just go away. Things are not going smoothly in the country.”
Ghafoor claimed that while attempts to have the People’s Majlis and Supreme Court rule whether the MDP should be regarded as the country’s main opposition or governing party had not been successful so far, the party still had power in the Majlis through parliamentary committees to meet aims for fresh polls.
“Right now we see the way forward is to continue to push for early elections. We will also push to keep us in the CMAG agenda and ensure there is a third party international pressure to ensure the government are held to a schedule regarding the CNI’s recommendations on institutional reform,” he said.
“We do see CNI report as a way forward and we would wish for CMAG to keep a watch on the country. So on the back of our reservations of the CNI report, we will coniute to lobby to keep the Maldives on CMAG’s agenda.
Despite the MDP’s lobbying, the government has this week urged CMAG to remove the country from its agenda.
Both Dunya Maumoon, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Dr Hassan Saeed, Special Advisor to the President, have publicly argued that the Maldives had been treated unfairly, suggesting that the country should leave the Commonwealth should it not be removed from the CMAG agenda without delay.