The Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) has said their report on the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power on February 7 will be “incomplete” without the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) cooperation.
New President Mohamed Waheed Hassan charged the CNI to assess the change of leadership following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s allegation that he was ousted in a coup d’état, carried out by mutinous elements of the police and military. Waheed was Nasheed’s Vice President.
However, the MDP has refused to recognise the CNI, claiming the commission is neither independent nor impartial, and has raised concerns over former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Defense Minister Ismail Shafeeu chairing the commission.
The Commonwealth has also warned of “stronger measures” against the Maldives if the government fails to revise the composition and mandate of the CNI by May 16.
However, speaking to the press on Thursday, Shafeeu said it was “not suitable” for him to resign, and has said the matter must be decided between the government, political parties and foreign groups.
Meanwhile, President Waheed has affirmed commitment to the Commonwealth and said he looked “forward to resolve any outstanding issues involving the CMAG” including that of the CNI composition. Waheed’s remarks were sourced from a press release published by PR Newswire on Wednesday, and widely disseminated to world media.
However President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza was reported in local newspaper Haveeru today as stating that there was no thought of changing the composition of the commission.
CNI member Ali Fawaz Shareef said the commission had interviewed 77 people and “had received some responses from the MDP.”
Two individuals from the MDP requested to give statements had refused, Shareef said, but declined to state whether former President Nasheed was among the two.
Without the MDP’s cooperation, the commission’s report to be published by May 31 “would not be complete,” CNI member Ibrahim Yasir Ahmed said.
“However, we have interviewed many people so far, and we believe we can issue a very good report,” Yasir said.
The CNI faced “difficulties” when parties refused to cooperate with the commission, Shafeeu added.
“This commission will not take legal action against anyone regarding information shared with this commission. The only thing we are doing is gathering information,” he said. The CNI has previously said it would not conduct a criminal investigation.
The report will note missing information and will also include any relevant statements made in the public domain, the commission members said.
President Waheed has met with the CNI on Tuesday to give his account of the transfer of power.
Meanwhile, the MDP has launched its own investigation into the transfer of power, and President Nasheed has given a statement to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) regarding a brutal police crackdown on MDP supporters at a peaceful protest on February 8.
The CNI has long said the government must authorise any changes in its composition, but President Waheed on April 25 said it was up to the commission to allow new members to join the inquiry.
“We have no role in the reformulation of the commission. They do not have to discuss the matter with us either. The government can reformulate the commission as they see fit,” CNI member Yasir repeated on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Shafeeu said the government, political parties and foreign groups must decide whether to dismiss him from the CNI. “If the outcome of political negotiations is that I must go, it will not be difficult to get me out of here. I will just go home like I do every day when I finish work,” he told reporters.
The MDP has criticised the lack of cross-party consultation in compiling the committee and the lack of international experts on the committee.
“It has been conceived and imposed by those parties allied to Dr Waheed without any consultation with MDP. It does not include any eminent international experts. And the inclusion of individuals who held Cabinet posts during the autocratic government of former President Gayoom, including the appointment of a Chair – Mr Ismail Shafeeu – who had held various ministerial posts under former President Gayoom including the position of Defense Minister at a time of widespread human rights abuses in the country, suggests that no effort has been made to ensure independence and impartiality,” the MDP stated in February.
Local civil society groups have also urged the government to seek cross-party support in formulating the commission.
Commitment to the Commonwealth
As the Commonwealth deadline for CNI review draws near, Dr Waheed said the Maldives government would meet with Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon on Thursday to affirm the Maldives’ commitment to the Commonwealth and the CMAG and “any outstanding issues since his last visit.”
“The Maldives government wants to make progress with the Commission of National Inquiry following previous discussions with the Commonwealth about its composition,” the statement read.
The statement quoted President Waheed as saying: “I look forward to constructive talks with Sir Don McKinnon. I will be telling Sir Don that as a government, we are completely committed to the Commonwealth and I look forward to resolving any outstanding issues involving CMAG.”
Meanwhile, MP of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Ahmed Ilham, and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed have submitted a bill to parliament that could see the Maldives withdraw itself from the Commonwealth within 60 days of ratification. Both parties have backed Dr Waheed.