The resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012 was the result of “planning, propaganda and a lot of work”, interim deputy leader of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has claimed.
Introducing candidates from “Team Umar” at a rally last week ahead of the PPM’s first congress this weekend, Naseer urged supporters to vote for members of his team as they had “produced results” through street activism against the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) administration.
“A lot of people told us that Mohamed Nasheed’s government cannot be toppled from the street. I said while contesting for DRP’s [Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s] deputy leader that I was coming to this post to topple Mohamed Nasheed’s government from the street. We have proven and shown that,” he said.
“You should not think that February 7 happened automatically,” he continued. “It did not happen like that. It was the result of planning, propaganda and a lot of work by some people. It did not happen automatically.”
While former President Nasheed insists that he was forced to resign “under duress” following a police mutiny and loss of command and control over the military, a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) found that the transfer of power to then-Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was constitutional.
Speaking at last week’s rally, Umar Naseer said members of his team led protests for 22 consecutive nights and played an important role in backing up mutinying police officers in the early hours of February 7.
In an interview with Australian journalist Mark Davis for the SBS Dateline television programme in February 2012, Naseer claimed he was at a “command center” on the night of February 6 directing protests by the then-opposition.
“On the protesters’ side, we were informing and educating the police and army through our speeches and television programs,” Naseer said.
Asked by Davis if the opposition had made any other inducements, such as promises that they and their families would be “looked after” if they switched sides, Naseer said “there were.”
He added that the former president could have been beaten by a mob if he had emerged from the military headquarters without agreeing to resign.
At the first PPM rally following the controversial transfer of presidential power, Umar Naseer said he told former President Nasheed to resign “or else you might lose your life.”
Naseer claimed that the former president’s choices were to either resign peacefully or “resign after bloodshed.”
“While the operation [protest] was going on that night, I was at the commanding center. I was talking to Nasheed’s close aides. I told them to surrender; otherwise [he] might lose life. I told them that repeatedly. But, firstly, they responded arrogantly saying they do not have to surrender [because] such a circumstance has arrived,” Umar claimed.
But around 8:30am the next morning, Umar claimed that Nasheed called him saying that he wanted to resign. Nasheed said that he would not participate in any political activities hereafter, Umar added.
“Nasheed called and said that he is prepared to resign. He requested arrangements to be made for him and his family to leave for somewhere else. I told him that it will be arranged and to prepare for resignation,” Umar claimed.
Following media coverage of those remarks, Umar however released a statement claiming he did not imply that President Nasheed’s life was threatened by police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
During the unrest, Umar said that he spoke to Former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and told him that their lives were in danger because of the large number of protesters in Republic Square.
“I said his life could be in danger because of the large number of people gathered there [Republican Square] and it seemed that police, MNDF did not have the capacity to control the crowd – not even us,” Umar said.
“We feared from our hearts that if the civilians [protesters] had entered the MNDF headquarters by using any means, Nashed, Tholhath and MNDF and police inside the building [at the time] would have been at danger.”