“I do not believe that the constitutional and political crisis in the Maldives will be resolved without international assistance,” former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has told Minivan News today.
Dr Shaheed – currently UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Iran – said he wished to correct local media reports claiming he had called for neighbouring India to intervene militarily to restore democracy in the Maldives.
“It does not have to be force – it can even be good offices,” he said, accusing media of distorting his comments.
Progressive Party of Maldives vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed meanwhile told local media that the comments were evidence of the “hunger for power” within the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
“Calling for the Indian military to come to Maldives, I believe it is proof that they want power even by sidelining the country’s independence and sovereignty, through whatever means possible,” Dr Jameel told Sun Online.
Tension is growing in Male’ after the Supreme Court ordered the security forces to forcibly prevent any state institutions proceeding with the constitutionally mandated presidential run-off.
The poll was required under Article 111 of the constitution to take place on Saturday (September 28).
Controversy has nonetheless arisen over Shaheed’s remarks on twitter over the past few days, in particular a post from last Thursday (September 26)
CMAG must suspend the Maldives from CW n request India to invoke R2P!
— ahmed shaheed (@ahmedshaheed) September 26, 2013
Initial misinterpretation, argued Shaheed, was a result of Adhaalath Party Vice President Dr Mauroof Hussain distorting a previous message in which he had stated that an Indian takeover would be preferable to one led by local ‘takfiris’ (Muslims who label other Muslims apostates).
Shaheed – noting that local media had run a second article in which he said corrected some of the mistakes made in the first – called on the Commonwealth to take a more proactive stance on the Maldives.
“My tweet on R2P was aimed at the Commonwealth, asking it to suspend Maldives from the Commonwealth and further asking it to invite India to play a more proactive role in restoring Constitutional authority in the Maldives.
“When the Supreme Court has been hijacked by thugs and bandits, the time has come for the Platonic question – who shall guard the guardians? The answer is CMAG, R2P and UN resolution 44/51,” said Dr Shaheed.
He called for a Commonwealth process, and noted that the R2P doctrine itself mandates a UN process, thereby ruling out any unilateral intervention.
Initiatives and resolutions
The R2P initiative is intended to address the international community’s failure to stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It views sovereignty as a responsibility rather than a right.
Former Foreign Minister Shaheed also suggested that UN resolution 44/51 could be invoked to invite Indian assistance to restore constitutional authority in the Maldives.
Resolution 44/51, which was introduced by the former Foreign Secretary Ibrahim Hussain Zaki in 1989, is titled ‘Protection and security of small island states’.
The Maldivian initiative was brought before the General Assembly after the attempted coup by Tamil mercenaries in Male’ the year before.
The resolution stated the General Assembly’s appeals to “relevant regional and international organisations to provide assistance when requested by small states for the strengthening of their security in accordance with the purposes and principles of the [UN] Charter.”
The subsequent paragraph also calls on the Secretary General to pay special attention to the security situation of small states.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had stated his concern about the Supreme Court’s decision ordering the postponement of the second round, given that the first round was “widely recognised as a success by international and domestic election observers.”
“The people of the Maldives have exhibited great patience and should have the opportunity, without undue delay, to exercise their vote,” he stated.
Expressing concern at recent events in the Maldives, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last week “urged all those concerned to ensure that the second round of the election is held at the earliest possible date so that this constitutional requirement is met.”
Following last week’s CMAG meeting, Acting Foreign Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela urged the group to “take matters in proper context, and not to over-react on delicate situations in member countries”.