The steering committee of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has decided to stage a mass rally before the publication of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI) report, but has also committed to accepting the commission’s conclusion should it find there was no illegal activity involved in the ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7.
A successful resolution proposed that should the CNI conclude February’s transfer of power was illegal, former members of the government should be reinstated, early elections scheduled, and legal proceedings initiated against those implicated.
However, should the CNI conclude that there was no coup in February, the steering committee decided it would wait for constitutionally scheduled presidential elections in 2013.
Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has responded to the MDP’s “amusing” proposals by stating his party’s intention to take the matter to the Supreme Court should the CNI’s findings indict the current government.
Local paper Haveeru reported on August 2 that Naseer, after refusing to testify a second time before the CNI, had argued the reconstituted commission represented an attempt by “foreigners to enter into the country’s internal affairs through the backdoor”.
Following his own statement to the committee last month, the interim leader of the PPM and former President Maumoon Adbul Gayoom told the press that he would not accept that the ousting of Nasheed amounted to a coup, regardless of the CNI’s findings.
Current President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, during an interview with the BBC in June, stated his belief that he would not feel compelled to resign if he was found to have played no role in any alleged coup.
“If [the commission] find out that I had a role in bringing about a coup, then I would definitely resign,” he said. “But if I have no role – if somebody else has done it – it doesn’t mean I have to resign, according to the law of the Maldives.”
In the interview, Waheed argued that premature elections would be far more harmful to the country than his continuing presence in the President’s Office.
The CNI, originally created in February by presidential decree to investigate the events leading up to and including Nasheed’s resignation, was reconstituted in June following concerns, both domestic and international, that the committee lacked independence and impartiality.
The revised commission includes the addition of a Nasheed nominee as well as a retired Singaporean judge as co-chair.
Calm before the storm?
Last week, the MDP announced its decision to suspend its ‘direct action’ protests for the remainder of the Ramazan period in order to foster an atmosphere in which inter-party dialogue might progress.
Prior to this, the party had intensified its anti-government campaign during July, spending consecutive nights demonstrating on Chaandanhee Magu near the political and military headquarters of the capital, Male’.
The concurrent raising of tension in Male’ brought clashes between police and protesters. Injuries on both sides of the barricades brought claim and counter claim of police brutality and violent protests.
High-level parliament-initiated talks were scheduled to take place yesterday morning but appeared to stall after a number of senior party figures failed to attend.
There was apparent confusion regarding the aims of yesterday’s meetings. Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim told local media that the meeting was “meaningless” unless the issue of resuming Majlis sittings was discussed.
The Majlis has not met since the end of July following Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s decision to suspend sittings owing to escalating tensions in the house.
Alternatively, the MDP’s representative at the meeting left the President’s Office yesterday speaking of early elections and the course of action to be taken after the CNI report’s publication.