A legal team led by sacked Human Rights Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed has filed a case at the High Court, requesting it rule that former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation was obtained under duress and the transfer of power on February 7, 2012 was illegitimate.
Nasheed’s resignation followed 22 days of continuous protests backed by religious scholars, opposition leaders and mutinying police and military officers, in mid-January 2012, over the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed. Nasheed’s Vice-President Mohamed Waheed Hassan subsequently ascended to power.
Following resignation, Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) claimed he was forced to resign under duress and that his government was toppled in a bloodless coup d’etat.
Dhiyana Saeed, formerly a member of President Mohamed Waheed’s cabinet and one of the earliest critics of Nasheed’s decision to detain Judge Abdulla, has released a personal memoir explaining her interpretation of Waheed’s ascension to power. The former SAARC Secretary General also alleged that Nasheed’s political rivals had conspired to assassinate him.
Speaking to Minivan News, Saeed confirmed that the High Court had accepted the initial paperwork. However, a final determination to formally accept the case will be made after review of the paperwork.
According to local media, lawyers joining Saeed in the petition include Ishraq Thaufeeg and Aiminath Nazlee, both whom currently represent Saeed’s newly founded law firm, Fanandheeb Chambers.
Speaking to local media outlet Channel News Maldives, Thaufeeg said following legal reviewing of the circumstances, the firm had noticed several legal inconsistencies and lapses that suggested the transfer of power took place illegally.
He also said that public still questions the legitimacy of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s government, and that therefore it was important that a court of law decides on the matter.
Saeed alleged in her memoir that the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7 was the result of a premeditated and well-orchestrated plan, and questioned the findings of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which had declared that there was no coup and Nasheed had resigned voluntarily.
Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee’s review of of the report revealed several concerns including omission of key evidence and witness statements.
He added that many interviewed by the committee claimed the CNI report lacked “key information they had given [the CNI panel]” while “others claimed their infmrmation was wrongly presented”.
To support its claims, the parliamentary select committee released audio recordings of all the statements given by the witnesses. These included former police and military chiefs and officers, who claimed that Nasheed had no option but to resign.
Former Chief of Defence Force Moosa Ali Jaleel was heard telling the committee that he “fully believed that President Nasheed resigned under duress”.
He added that the circumstances leading up to the resignation of former President gave rise to the fact that resignation was obtained by “illegal coercion”.
Meanwhile former Police Chief Ahmed Faseeh told the committee that police officers who gathered in Republican Square on February 7 had disobeyed orders and their actions were grossly inconsistent with the Police Act, as well as professional standards established within the police.
Former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Intelligence Head Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam also testified to the committee that Nasheed was ousted in a coup, claiming that events on February 7 fulfilled all the essentials of a coup.
“Academically speaking, the events on February 7 fulfilled all the essentials of a coup. It involved all the features of a coup that are widely accepted around the world. Some of the elements take place before the toppling of a president. Others take place spontaneously,” he said.
Leaked statements given by key witnesses of the events to CNI, also suggested that the transfer of power took place illegitimately.
In the transcript of the statement given to CNI by MNDF Staff Sergeant Shafraz Naeem – the commander of the riot squad of the Bandara Koshi (BK) Battalion on the day – said that he also believed that Nasheed was ousted in a coup.
“In my view this was a coup. Why? I could see it from the way they handled everything, their attitude, how cool and calm all the officers were. I could tell from how cool General Shiyam was inside the MNDF. They did nothing. This is not how a uniformed officer should behave,” he told the CNI.
Meanwhile President Nasheed told the CNI that he was forced to resign, as he believed his life was at stake on February 7 if he did not.
“In essence, my statement is very small. I was forced to resign. I resigned under duress. I was threatened. If I did not resign within a stipulated period it would endanger mine and my family’s life. I understood they were going to harm a number of other citizens, party members. They were going to literally sack the town. I felt that I had no other option, other than to resign,” he said.
On September 2012, following the release of the report, a legal analysis of the CNI’s report by a team of high-profile Sri Lankan legal professionals – including the country’s former Attorney General concluded that the report was “selective”, “flawed”, and “exceeded its mandate”.
“The report offends the fundamental tenets of natural justice, transparency and good governance, including the right to see adverse material, which undermines the salutary tenets of the Rule of Law,” observed the report.
The Sri Lankan legal team also contended that “there is evidence to demonstrate that there was in fact adequate evidence to suggest that duress (or even ‘coercion’ and/ or illegal coercion as used by CNI) is attributable to the resignation of President Nasheed.”
The CNI report dismissed this theory.
“In summary, the commission concludes that there was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any coup d’état. The commission has received no evidence supporting or to substantiate these allegations. This disposes the main mandate of the Commission,”