President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan will make an official statement today concerning the final draft of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI’s) findings as the Commonwealth reiterates hope that all members of the commission’s panel will be “able to agree” on the finished report.
As the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has continued its criticism of an early draft of the Commission’s findings, claiming it fails to meet criteria set by the Commonwealth, authorities have this week been raising concerns about potential violence in response to the release of the CNI report.
Both the Maldives Police Service and the Ministry of Home Affairs have detailed fears of unrest spreading across the Maldives following the reports release, both in the capital and the wider atolls, as well as the country’s prisons.
Once having received the CNI’s report today, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad confirmed that President Waheed would likely be releasing a statement on the findings. At the time of press, Masood said that no time-line had been given by the CNI panel for when the completed report would be delivered to the president.
Along with the President’s Office, key state institutions like parliament, as well the prosecutor general (PG) and the attorney general will be receiving the report a day ahead of the planned public release.
However, Deputy Prosecutor (PG) General Hussein Shaheem told Minivan News that even if it received the report today, the PG’s office was unlikely to issue a statement itself until the findings had been studied and analysed.
“If the report does come out [today], it will be our responsibility to comprehensively read it and study the findings,” he said. “So far, we are not fond of making statements to the media, particularly without fully reviewing the report.”
Meanwhile, the MDP has itself continued to criticise a draft of the CNI’s finding that it has alleged contain “significant gaps” in the evidence it was provided. The party has claimed these “gaps”, unless rectified, amount to “non-compliance” of Commonwealth guidelines in line with concerns initially raised by former President Nasheed’s own appointee to the committee, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.
In a statement, the party drew particular concern with the draft findings of CNI Co-Chair, retired Singaporean Judge GP Selvam, claiming they had been put together without the submission of statements from a number of individuals that hold key positions during February 7. These figures included, Former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh, Brigadier General (Retired) Ibrahim Didi (MNDF Male’ Area Commander on February 7), Brigadier General Ahmed Nilaam and Col. Mohamed Ziyad.
“The MDP shares Mr Saeed’s concerns as to how Judge Selvam’s draft could be complete when the commission has not adhered to its Commonwealth Agreement derived mandate to look into bank statements and telephone records of principal characters involved in 7 February’s questionable transfer of power,” the party stated. “The MDP’s National Executive Committee has previously stated that it will accept the findings of an inquiry that adheres to the guidelines and agreement reached between Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and the Commonwealth. MDP notes that the concerns raised by Mohamed Nasheed’s nominee to the Commission signal non-compliance with the rules and spirit of the inquiry commission set forth by the Commonweath Ministerial Action Group. “
However, echoing a statement released Monday (August 27) by the Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, the intergovernmental organisation said that it was calling on “Maldivian stakeholders” to address the CNI’s findings in a calm and responsible manner.
“[The Commonwealth] looks forward to the members of the [CNI] being able to agree on their report, as well as urges all stakeholders in Maldives to respect the Commission’s findings,” Commonwealth Secretariat Spokesperson Richard Uku yesterday clarified.
With the public release of the CNI report set for Thursday (August 30 ) the government and security forces have both expressed concerns over the potential for violence and unrest in the country with the Ministry of Home Affairs raising fears over alleged “plans” by some inmates to create violence in the country’s prisons.
According to Sun Online, Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz alleged information had been received that inmates were to create violence within prisons at the behest of unidentified political groups.
Fayaz, who also serves as Head of the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS), claimed that communications with political figures had been facilitated by by mobile phones smuggled into prisons, with inmates suspected of such communication having been separated from other prisoners.
“Military fire capacity and police backup will be available on that day,” he was quoted as telling Sun, adding that additional checks had been carried out at the country’s prison as of yesterday evening.
Fayaz himself was not responding at the time of press, with Minivan News also awaiting a response to questions submitted to Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel.
Minister of State Fayaz’s comments come days after the Maldives Police Service (MPS) launched an operation to introduce increased scrutiny of Male’s streets and its surrounding waters in order to try and control fears of a potential outbreak of unrest ahead of release of the CNI findings.
Maldives Police Service Assistant Commissioner Hussain Waheed told reporters at the time that authorities had decided to strengthen security across the capital and other islands, in order to “not give any opportunity to create unrest”.
However, Waheed claimed police would provide full support and security services to demonstrations held “peacefully and within the contours of laws”.
Despite the claims, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) NGO this week called for the international community to send observers to Male’ in time for the release of the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).
FIDH said that it was “extremely concerned” about the potential for violence in the build up and aftermath of the report’s release.
“The CNI was established in May to determine the nature of the transition of power in February, which led to the so-called resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed,” the NGO stated. “These events were followed by continuous unrest in the streets of Male’ and severe repression of demonstrations by state security forces. FIDH calls on the international community to immediately send observers to Male’ to prevent further deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.”
Minivan News last night observed minor confrontations between anti-government protesters and police as about a thousand protesters took to Male’s streets ahead of the CNI release.
Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at the time of press to clarify if any arrests had been made during the demonstrations.