The government will not make “special” preparations to address the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) once they are published next week, claiming it does not expect any “abnormal” outcome from the report that would see its legitimacy questioned.
President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza today told Minivan News that while it did not wish to speculate on the CNI’s outcome before receiving its findings on August 29, the government expected similar conclusions regarding the transfer of power to those of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has dismissed the government’s claims, adding that the CNI was an independent body, overseen by international partners, and would therefore focus on the “big picture” concerning the power transfer, rather than any individual report.
The HRCM yesterday publicly released several reports around alleged human rights abuses committed in the lead up to February 7, as well as reported violations that occurred once the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came into power on February 8.
Among some of the key findings of the reports were that former President Nasheed gave “unlawful orders” to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and police officers at the Artificial Beach area on the evening of February 6. The HRCM also concluded that the Maldives Police Service needed to investigate alleged brutality conducted by its own officers after the transfer of power.
The HRCM’s findings are expected to be taken into consideration by the panel currently overseeing the CNI, which includes members appointed by President Waheed and a representative for former President Mohamed Nasheed. Under its reformed composition, the CNI is also co-chaired by retired Singaporean judge Govinda Pannir Selvam. Representatives from the United Nations and the Commonwealth will also advise the CNI’s work.
The CNI was initially established by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the details of February’s controversial transfer of power, before having its board reconstituted following international and domestic pressure.
With the government expected to receive the CNI’s report on August 29 – a day before it will be released to the public – Abbas Adil Riza said that the President’s Office saw “no need” to devise plans to address the potential outcomes of the CNI.
“The HRCM report has proven what we have always maintained about how this government came to power. We expect similar findings [from the CNI] that the previous chief executive displayed gross negligence and a violation of laws. We don’t expect a different stand,” he claimed. “However, on the basis of the CNI report, we will take necessary actions against any criminal behaviour found to have been committed at the time, should issues be raised.”
Abbas added that elections were therefore still scheduled for July 2013. Both the MDP and the Commonwealth Ministerial Acton Group (CMAG) have called for early elections to be held during 2012 to resolve the increasingly bittier political divide in the country.
With President Waheed expected to travel to Sri Lanka tomorrow for a postponed state visit, Abbas claimed that no discussions regarding the CNI and its outcomes were planned with Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa.
He added that the visit would therefore be focused on high-level talks concerning wider bilateral relations and commercial opportunities between the two nations.
“Out of context”
Responding to the release yesterday of the HRCM’s findings, MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the party’s “experts” were studying the individual reports at present before making comment.
However, on a first glance basis, he accused the HRCM of publishing a “convoluted array of statements” that were additionally “out of context” with wider happenings during the transfer of power.
“The report accuses [former] President Nasheed of issuing unconstitutional orders, the whole thing is out of context and frozen over a 48 hour period,” he said. “At this stage, I would say there are many oversights in these findings.”
Ghafoor added that Abbas’ claims that the CNI would draw a similar conclusion to the HRCM’s findings reflected the position taken by Umar Naseer, Interim Deputy Leader of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
On Sunday (August 19), Naseer leaked details of the HRCM’s findings before they had been released publicly, focusing on claims that Nasheed had given “unlawful orders” to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and police officers at the Artificial Beach area on the evening of February 6.
He added that the HRCM report concluded that the MNDF and police officers at the Artificial Beach area were “unlawfully” ordered to leave the area, which led to a breakdown in command and control of the security forces.
The HRCM report was also said by Naseer to conclude that Nasheed’s orders to leave the area violated article 245 of the constitution, by obstructing security forces from fulfilling their lawful duties.
However, Ghafoor added that he was “not concerned” that the HRCM’s findings would lead the CNI to dismiss the MDP’s allegation that it was removed from office in a “coup d’etat”.
He claimed that due to international participation, the CNI, as an independent body, was well placed to view the HRCM report in the wider context of Maldivian politics. Ghafoor claimed that the CNI would be aware of alleged concerns over the conduct of the country’s independent institutions to do their work without political influence.
Ghafoor alleged that during the last three years, the majority of former opposition, now government-aligned, MPs had allowed the country’s independent institutions to be “shielded” from scrutiny concerning the outcomes of their work.
“The HRCM has always been a source of problems concerning independence” he claimed. “You just need to look at its failure to investigate the atrocities committed under the former government [of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom].”