Human Rights Ambassador of the President’s Office Ahmed Ibrahim “Sandhaanu” Didi has called on Elections Commission (EC) President Fuad Thaufeeq to dissolve the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), calling it an “unlawful organisation which commits terrorist activities and attempts to undermine the powers of the state.”
“Fuad Thaufeeq must pronounce the MDP an illegal party and remove it from the political party registry immediately. They shouldn’t be allowed to exist,” he told a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“Article 27 and 32 of the constitution allows freedom of expression and assembly without any limits. However, we must bear in mind that we cannot exercise these rights in a manner which infringes upon the rights of others,” Ibrahim Didi said.
“The roads of Male’ have been in chaos for the past year. One of the groups is calling for early elections, which itself is against our constitution,” he continued.
“I see no reason for there to be dissenting political views. Former President Mohamed Nasheed handed in his resignation on live TV. There should be no questions around this.”
Ibrahim Didi stated that all concerned parties had initially accepted the findings released by the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), a Commonwealth-backed inquiry commission set in place through presidential decree by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
“If some of these people later decided to go against that stand, we are not obliged to listen to them. If we are to go on like this, the world will come to believe we are fools,” Ibrahim Didi said.
He added the charges against former President and current MDP presidential candidate Nasheed will not become political “just because he and his supporters say so.”
“Even Almighty God loves all of his subjects. But if any of us sins, He will punish as is due. The same law of nature applies to the case at hand,” said the human rights ambassador.
Ibrahim Didi stated that the current MDP protests were unlawful as they are calling on the Prosecutor General (PG) to withdraw charges against Nasheed, which he said was unlawful under the Maldivian constitution.
“If in their protests, the MDP are calling for the charges against Nasheed to be withdrawn, their demands are unlawful as per the constitution. These charges are being pressed by an independent institution. They are calling to undermine the powers of this institution. So I must ask for this party, these people, to be arrested and detained. I am saying this because this party is trying to undermine the powers of the republic and the constitution.”
Ibrahim Didi alleged that MDP supporters had set to the streets “with one objective alone: to undermine the powers of our constitution.”
Ibrahim Didi further spoke about the importance of all political parties having the same views and objectives.
“I cannot believe, in fact, I do not at all want to believe, that there can be anyone with views opposing that of the government. There should be no opposition parties. Everyone should have the same views. There can, however, be parties created to hold the government accountable.”
Ibrahim Didi alleged that “more than political activities, [MDP] is creating havoc on the streets, setting places on fire and creating chaos.”
“Even when their presidential candidate is a criminal, they keep saying no, no, no, we still want him,” Ibrahim Didi said of Nasheed’s supporters.
Ibrahim Didi responded that he “personally held no doubts that Nasheed is a criminal”, when a journalist asked how he could refer to Nasheed as a criminal before the courts ruled on the case.
Elections Commission “disappointed”
President of the Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq stated that he was “deeply saddened that a person like Ahmed Ibrahim Didi would call for such an undemocratic act as terminating a political party.”
“The MDP is the largest political party with over 46,000 members. If we add together the membership numbers of the second and third largest parties, DRP and PPM, the total number is approximately equal to the membership of MDP as a single party. Is he asking us to take away the rights of this many citizens?” Thaufeeq said.
“Protesting is a constitutional right granted to all people. That is not a reason to terminate any party. The EC, to date, has not seen any reason to terminate any political party. We are also observing the activities of the parties,” Thaufeeq continued.
“I am appalled that Ahmed Ibrahim Didi would call on us to do such a thing. Since freedom of expression is a constitutional right, anyone can say what they please as long as it aligns with the constitution and Islamic values,” he said.
“Hence, Ibrahim Didi has a right to call for MDP to be terminated, and MDP has a right to call for Nasheed’s trial to be postponed. There is no valid reason here for a party to be terminated.”
No police brutality: HR Ambassador
Ibrahim Didi further stated that he did not believe that the police had committed any acts of brutality in the past year.
“I am very concerned that the Human Rights Commission released a statement saying police have used excessive force. If someone comes at police with a wooden club with excessive force, then police too will respond and go at them with excessive force. One can’t judge these actions unless they are there on the spot,” he stated.
“I saw on DhiTV today that Fuad Thaufeeq has said we can have a free and fair election if we can resolve issues between MDP and the police. This is a highly irresponsible statement,” he said.
“Anyone who speaks against the police are traitors to the nation. People who have problems with the police are all criminals. People from political parties will never have problems with the police,” Ibrahim Didi said.
Vice President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives Ahmed Tholal said the commission had always called on people to demonstrate peacefully as allowed in the constitution, and the police to exercise restraint.
“Even in an instance where a demonstration becomes violent, I do not believe the state should respond in kind. None of our laws allow any form of violence. Should protesters get violent, then the state should only take proper legal action against the perpetrators. The state cannot at all respond with similar forms of violence as the perpetrators,” Tholal said.
Roles of the Human Rights Ambassador
Ibrahim Didi said that one could compare protests under past administrations to the current protests being held by MDP.
Asked by journalists if, as Human Rights Ambassador, Ibrahim Didi believed the December 2011 protests by the current government aligned parties could be termed “peaceful”, in which protesters uprooted trees and a policeman was attacked with fire, Ibrahim Didi stated that “we are not here to hold a hearing on this” and “we will need to review past protests before commenting on that.”
“Any persons who challenge the constitution, who challenge the judicial system, cannot be termed as a political party. They must be termed an unlawful organisation and must be removed from the political party registry,” Ibrahim Didi responded, when asked if the parties that participated in the December 2011 protests which had called to “topple” the then government should also be terminated for undermining the constitution.
Local media also asked Ibrahim Didi what he, as current Ambassador and previously a strong critic of Gayoom, had done to ensure that justice was delivered for victims of human rights abuses during Gayoom’s 30 year regime.
“I stand by everything I have said about Gayoom’s actions. Even though I am here as an Ambassador for Human Rights, I think it is better if those questions are asked of the commission Nasheed made during his administration to look into those very allegations.”
Ibrahim Didi concluded the press event by stating that he did not accept the judiciary was functioning, saying “these arsonists would not be walking around on our streets freely if the judiciary could perform right.”
“Sheer madness”: MDP
MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said it was not at Ibrahim Didi’s discretion to terminate a political party, adding that such things were done under certain norms and procedures.
“The MDP is the party that stood up for Ibrahim Didi himself, when he was sentenced to life imprisonment for exercising freedom of expression during Gayoom’s brutal regime. And today has he no shame calling for this party to be terminated?” Fahmy asked.
“It is sheer madness to call for the termination of the country’s largest and first democratic political party. Terminating a political party in this manner is simply not possible in a democratic environment, it is like calling a square a circle. I cannot understand what kind of policies the man is following. It is sheer madness to make remarks like he has made today,” Fahmy said.
“He doesn’t understand the simple concept of the presumption of innocence, and has proceeded to call Nasheed a criminal. In fact, he has today called almost half the population criminals by saying anyone who has issues against the police are criminals,” Fahmy said.