The Commonwealth has issued a statement clarifying that neither the government or former President Mohamed Nasheed have yet agreed on a nominee to the Commission on National Inquiry (CNI).
The CNI was former by President Mohamed Waheed to investigate the controversial circumstances which brought him to power on February 7. Former President Nasheed resigned, allegedly under duress, after elements of the police and military joined opposition demonstrators in an assault on the main military base in Male’.
Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – and subsequently the Commonwealth – criticised the independence of the three-member CNI, which is presently chaired by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Defence Minister.
Pressured by the Commonwealth, the government agreed to allow a retired foreign judge and a representative for Nasheed sit on the panel, but imposed conditions on this nominee:
- “Be a person of integrity with high ethical, moral and professional standards with at least an undergraduate degree from a recognised university”
- Not have been politically active during the past two years;
- “Not have held a Cabinet post or served as a member of the People’s Majlis during the past two years”
- “Not have taken a public stand on the events of 7 February 2012.”
The government as of Monday had rejected all nominees put forward by Nasheed – who is currently attending the Executive Meeting of International Democrat Union (IDU) in New Zealand – however yesterday afternoon President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza confirmed its acceptance of Mariyam Manaal Shihab. Local media subsequently reported that the nominee had been withdrawn.
The circumstances of Shihab’s nomination appeared further confused after Nasheed issued a press release today expressed “disappointment and concerns over leak of the nominee from him to the Commission of National Inquiry established to look into the events that led to the forceful resignation of President Nasheed on February 7 after a military and police-backed coup.”
“The understanding between the Commonwealth’s special envoy and President Nasheed was that the names proposed by him would not be revealed without discussing with him,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
“However, the administration had publicly announced one of the nominees without consulting President Nasheed and this is unacceptable. The President has expressed disappointment and concern over the leak to the Commonwealth and we certainly hope such unprofessionalism would not continue in this process,” Ghafoor said.
The government meanwhile issued a statement condemning Ghafoor’s “misleading” statement, claiming that while “Nasheed’s latest nominee, Ms Mairyam Manal Shihab is an active member of the MDP and could have been rejected on these grounds, due to the nominee meeting all the other objective criteria, as set out by the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth, the Government accepted the nominee because they are committed to moving forward with the CNI.”
“The Government accepted Ms Manal Shihab and informed Sir Don McKinnon of this. Immediately after, Mr Nasheed withdrew Ms Manal Shihab as his nominee,” the government claimed.
“The Government is concerned by Mr Nasheed’s attempts to stall the work of the CNI by repeatedly proposing nominees who do not meet the criteria agreed between the Commonwealth and the Maldives Government. By withdrawing Ms Manal Shihab, his own nominee accepted by the Commonwealth and the Maldives Government, Mr Nasheed is showing contempt for the CNI.
“Mr Nasheed has claimed that the Government leaked Ms Manal Shihab’s name to the media – an accusation which is completely false. The Government conducts all of its communication with the Commonwealth to the highest standard, and does not release information to the media unless there is agreement with the Commonwealth to do so. As soon as the Government accepted Mr Nasheed’s nominee, they notified the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth.
“After withdrawing Ms Manal Shihab – his own nominee – Mr Nasheed has insisted that his uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Zubair Ahmed Manik should be appointed to the CNI which highlights Mr Nasheed’s disregard for the CNI. The Government urges Mr Nasheed to act immediately in accordance with the four point criteria agreed between the Commonwealth and the Government so that the CNI can continue with its important work,” it added.
The President’s Office further issued a list of all proposed candidates and their reason for rejection:
- Mr Mohamed Aslam (Minister of Housing and Environment in Mr Nasheed’s Cabinet at the time of the resignation);
- Ms Shifa Mohamed (Minister of Education in Mr Nasheed’s Cabinet at the time of the resignation and MDP activist);
- Mr Hassan Latheef (Minister of Human Resources, Youth and Sports in Mr Nasheed’s Cabinet at the time of the resignation and MDP activist);
- Hudha Ahmed (a cousin of Mr Nasheed and MDP activist)
- Aishath Velezinee (a State Minister in Mr Nasheed’s Government at the time of the resignation and MDP activist)
- Mr Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem (former Managing Director of Maldives Airport Company Limited, who is married to a close relative of Mr Nasheed),
- Ms Fareesha Abdulla (former Under Secretary, Legal Affairs, at the President’s Office at the time of the resignation)
- Ms Hisaan Hussain (former legal affairs Secretary at the President Nasheed administration and MDP activist)
- Ms Mariya Didi- (former MDP Chairperson, current contender for the MDP President and MDP activist)
- Lieutenant Colonel Zubair Ahmed Manik (uncle of Mr Nasheed and serving member of Maldives National Defense Force)
The Commonwealth Secretariat said in a statement today: “We would like to point out that the discussions between the Commonwealth Special Envoy, Hon Sir Donald McKinnon, the Government of Maldives and former President Nasheed on the appointment of a representative of Mr Nasheed to the Commission are still ongoing. No nominee has as yet been agreed upon between these parties.”
“Sir Donald is continuing his efforts to facilitate agreement between the Government and former President Nasheed on a suitable nominee,” the statement added.
Sir Donald said: “It is imperative that confidentiality is preserved while these sensitive discussions are ongoing in order to provide space for the parties to reach a desirable outcome.”