Intelligence sources of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government had learned of the then-opposition’s plan to topple the government by soliciting “about 500 police officers” to protest in the Republic Square, according to an investigative report into the circumstances that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation “under duress” on February 7.
The report (Dhivehi), co-authored by former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam and National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal, focuses on the former government’s intelligence information on planning for the alleged “coup d’etat” and “unlawful and criminal activities” of police and army officers in the events leading up to Nasheed’s resignation.
All the information included in the report came from “primary sources”, the authors insisted, including senior government officials and political figures as well as police and army officers. Other sources included media reports, eyewitness testimonies and publicly available video footage.
Speaking to Minivan News today, President’s Office Spokesperson said that the MDP’s decision to release a report that included the names of police and MNDF officers it accused of being involved in the alleged coup was an “act of terrorism”.
“Planning the coup”
The report alleged that in September 2011 council members of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) met with a retired Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) warrant officer (grade one), a retired brigadier general and a retired deputy police commissioner at the apartment of PPM council member Ahmed ‘Mars’ Saleem to discuss ways to topple the government.
At the meeting, the report stated, the retired warrant officer proposed that “the only way to change President Nasheed’s government” was for “about 500 police officers to come out and protest at the Republic Square”.
“During these discussions, when the retired deputy police commissioner gave assurances that it could be done, PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer raised doubts [about the possibility],” the report claimed.
However, following extensive discussions, “it was decided that work would begin on creating an atmosphere for [a police-led protest at Republic square].”
The report further claimed that the “December 23 coalition” of eight political parties and affiliated NGOs – which staged a mega-protest to “Defend Islam” from the alleged “securalisation agenda” of President Nasheed – was formed as a result of “a lengthy discussion” at the Adhaalath Party office between a prominent religious scholar and the aforementioned warrant officer.
The ‘mega-protest’ was meanwhile primarily funded by Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader and tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim, the report claimed.
While Umar Naseer attempted to march the December 23 demonstrators to overthrow the government, the report claimed, the plan was thwarted after some coalition members opposed the notion.
“When it could not be done that day, the organisers of the gathering on December 23 decided to hold a second mass demonstration in the name of ‘a symposium’ on February 24 to bring President Nasheed’s rule to an end through direct action,” the report stated.
The controversial detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed by the military on 16 January provided the opposition “a wide opportunity to redouble efforts to achieve the desired outcome of the mass ‘symposium’ planned for February 24.”
Meanwhile, the report alleged, efforts by the opposition to identify police and army officers to join the protest was underway “at a high speed” with ex-colonel Mohamed Nazim and ex-deputy commissioner Abdulla Riyaz entrusted with the task.
At the beginning of February 2012, the report revealed, government intelligence had learned of ties formed between elements of the police and military with the opposition.
The report alleged that “among those who pledged allegiance to [the opposition] were Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam, Colonel Mohamed Nasheed, Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Raouf and Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz.”
Moreover, intelligence learned that Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam – presently the Chief of Defence Forces – held secret meetings with opposition figures, the report claimed.
Intelligence officers also reported that ex-colonel Nazim contacted senior military officers and middle-ranking officers at the time, “as a result of which information was received that some officers of the military’s marine corp pledged allegiance to him.”
Intelligence further learned that the officers in question were engaged in “inciting hatred” for President Nasheed among military personnel, eroding respect for the then-commander-in-chief and seeking additional recruits to their cause.
“Star Force” resurrected
The MDP’s report alleged that police officers involved in the planning for the coup were Assistant Commissioner Hussain Waheed, Chief Superintendent Abdulla Fairoosh, Chief Superintendent Hassan Habeeb, Chief Superintendent Ahmed Saudhy, Chief Inspector Abdulla Mannan Yousuf, Inspector Mohamed Dhaoud, Superintendent Ahmed Mohamed, Superintendent Mohamed Jamsheed, Sub-Inspector Azim Waheed and Special Operations (S.O) Inspector Shameem.
S.O Officers in particular were openly displaying contempt for President Nasheed and hatred of the government, the report claimed. The police S.O, formerly known as the “Star Force”, was created during President Gayoom’s reign to quell public demonstrations by the nascent MDP during the post-2003 reform movement.
The report revealed that disciplinary action was taken against an S.O officer found to have boasted to PPM MP Ahmed Mahlouf on 23 January about brutalising MDP protesters near MMA, vowing to “destroy MDP.”
Mahlouf confirmed the incident the following night at the protest, the report noted.
Disciplinary action was also taken against an officer who revealed riot police strength in a text message to Umar Naseer.
Moreover, intelligence learned that S.O officers were informing the opposition of “all of President Nasheed’s movements.”
The report also alleged that the S.O made no attempt to break up disruptive protests led by the opposition for 22 consecutive nights, which saw the central bank’s windows smashed, a minister’s house vandalised, trees uprooted and a police officer set on fire.
The report further noted remarks by Umar Naseer during the 22 nights of protest asking for 2,000 volunteers to storm army barracks with 50 ladders, at which point “the people inside will be with us.”
“From today onward, we will turn this protest into one that achieves results,” Umar had said. “We know how people overthrow governments. Everything needed to topple the government of this country is now complete.”
The report also referred to a meeting after midnight on 31 January between the then-vice president and representatives of the December 23 coalition, after which the opposition pledged allegiance to Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and called on the security forces not to obey commands of President Nasheed.
Among the assurances sought by the opposition was for Dr Waheed to not resign “despite any pressure” and lead a national unity government until 2013.