The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has launched an investigation into the February 7 transfer of power, claiming President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s inquiry into the change of government is not independent.
President Waheed instituted a three member Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) following ousted President Mohamed Nasheed’s allegation that he was deposed in a coup d’état orchestrated by remnants of the former dictatorship, funded by several resort interests and carried out by mutinous police and military units.
However, the Commonwealth has challenged the CNI’s independence, and on April 16 warned of “further and stronger measures” against the Maldives should the country fail to review the composition and mandate of the commission within four weeks.
Speaking to the press on Monday, former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam said the MDP had decided to initiate its own inquiry because “we do not trust the current administration’s inquiry to be independent.”
The MDP investigation aims to establish the truth, and learn lessons from the change of government to ensure a coup d’état does not take place in the Maldives in the future, said Aslam.
MP Mariya Didi said the MDP will seek justice based on the evidence they obtain.
“When the investigation is complete we will decide whether to file with a Maldivian court or if necessary with an international court,” she said.
However, Aslam said the MDP did not trust the Maldivian courts to deliver justice.
“It is very clear to us what will happen if we conduct an investigation and file the findings with a Maldivian court. We do not trust the courts to deliver justice on any investigation, whether it is carried out by us or another party,” he said.
“Nevertheless, the ordinary citizen knows what transpired on that day. A day will come when this case will be tried in a court of law and we will obtain justice,” he added.
Aslam said the party has been collecting statements from senior politicians, ordinary citizens, and members of the police and military, and appealed to the citizens “who saw and heard what happened to share information with us.”
Statements obtained so far suggest “this did not happen by chance,” Aslam said. “This was planned in advance, with the participation of senior political figures in the country. Moreover, the two institutions that Maldivians depended on for security have failed.”
Mariya said President Nasheed had requested the investigation and had pledged to cooperate with other ongoing investigations.
“He has given a statement to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), and will very soon submit a statement to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) on the actions of the police on February 8. Police action on the day violated the respect that must be given to a former president,” Mariya said.
Videos from an MDP demonstration on February 8 show police tear gassing and beating unarmed civilians in front of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building, and show police in riot gear verbally abusing Nasheed as they dragged him out of a shop.
The HRCM and the PIC have previously told they will respectively investigate human rights violations and police actions before and after February 7, but said the commissions do not have the mandate to look into the circumstances surrounding the change of government.
The MDP will seek international assistance in its investigation, Aslam said.