Comment: Gayoom and his legacy – the major obstacle to consolidating Maldives democracy

This article was first published on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

The Maldives’ first multi-party presidential elections of 2008 ended Gayoom’s thirty year dictatorship and adopted democratic rule.

But, like many other nascent democracies, the threat exists that Maldives may not be able to sustain its democracy in its fullest sense.

This is especially true after the coup orchestrated by the Maldivian security forces that ousted the first democratically elected President in February 2012. Added to this is the political activeness of dictator Gayoom, which in itself tends to heighten the prospect of Maldives falling back to a dictatorship.

As we head to the second democratic election in Maldives history, I want to ask: will a popular election alone help foster democracy in Maldives? Moreover, how could we prevent a full-blown authoritarian reversal with power back in the hands of Gayoom?

Gayoom’s continuing influence over Maldivian politics cannot be denied. This is not a unique experience for nascent democracies.

Research has established that legacies of authoritarianism from which democracies emerge put more direct pressure on democracies than cultural and economic factors[i].

This kind of pressure from Gayoom’s legacy the on Maldives’ efforts towards democratic transition has manifested itself in different ways. Take, for instance, the country’s political institutions.

During three years of democracy, attempts by Nasheed’s government to implement reforms needed for the consolidation of democracy were met with ever increasing obstructions from Gayoom loyalists within various institutions.

Firstly, the effort to create an independent judiciary (without which a modern democracy cannot function) has been entirely undermined by judges loyal to Gayoom. The Supreme Court bench itself is composed mostly of Gayoom loyalists who share his political ideologies.

It makes sense to me now that, when Majlis voted on President Nasheed’s nominations, DRP opposed most of them. Having been in a position to observe the negotiations closely, I myself believe that Nasheed’s nominations, opposed by DRP, comprised less biased, more suitable candidates.

At the time, DRP was Gayoom’s party with a majority in Parliament. DRP MPs made a habit of rejecting Nasheed’s nominations and proposing a list of their own instead. They pushed hard to sit certain individuals—like self-declared Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, a known Gayoom-affiliate—on the bench.

With the country facing a Constitutional void, President Nasheed compromised and nominated the current bench for Parliament approval.

Aishath Velezenee, a former Member of the Judicial Services Commission has provided a detailed account of how the process for appointing Supreme Court Judges took place.

The simple truth that we all know is, Supreme Court decisions have in one way or the other, benefited Gayoom and his allies. Is it a coincidence there is yet to be a Supreme Court decision that went against Gayoom or his allies?

Gayoom loyalists are similarly entrenched within the security services. Their loyalty to the dear leader had a major role to play in their mutiny against Nasheed on February 7, facilitating as it did the controversial transfer of power later that day.

Gayoom has denied widely circulated reports he was directing the night’s events from Malaysia. It cannot be denied, however, that he gave a phone interview to opposition-controlled media, indirectly encouraging the mutinying police.

It is no coincidence that after the coup, the head of security services are all pro-Gayoom loyalists. Now we have a Police Commissioner who served as the Deputy Commissioner in Gayoom’s regime, a regime well known for police brutality and torture.

The defence minister is a retired Colonel who also served under Gayoom. Furthermore, a reflection on the events in February 8 last year also shows that our security forces still continue Gayoom’s legacies.

Police brutality towards peaceful protesters, a defining characteristic of Gayoom’s regime, returned to the streets of Male’ with a vengeance, less than 24 hours after Nasheed’s government was brought to an end. It wasn’t hard to feel as if we had regressed, before 2008, before democracy.

Independent institutions play a vital role in consolidation of a democracy. Unfortunately for the Maldives, Gayoom loyalists are firmly embedded within, and often dominate, institutions like the Human Rights Commission, Police Integrity Commission and Civil Service Commission.

Most individuals comprising these commissions served in Gayoom’s government and still maintain close ties with him. This is hardly surprising given that just as with the nomination of Supreme Court justices, here too it was a DRP-majority Majlis that confirmed or rejected nominees to commissions.

The loyalty of some independent commissions to Gayoom was indeed evident from their actions following the police brutality on February 8. Neither the Human Rights Commission, nor the Policy Integrity Commission took any firm actions against the misconducts from the security forces.

Gayoom’s current party, the PPM, is so determined to retain these loyalists within the independent commissions that it is prepared to disregard even findings of serious misconduct against such individuals. The ongoing saga of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy is a case in point.

Parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee found in favour of a female staff member who accused Fahmy of sexual harassment and voted to remove him from the post. PPM members fought hard, but in vain, to save Fahmy. The Supreme Court was then asked to rule on whether the parliament’s decision was constitutional. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court ruled in Fahmy’s favour.

Gayoom’s dictatorial legacy, entrenched deep within our political system is the main obstacle to the consolidation of democracy in the Maldives. The 75 year-old leader’s revived political activeness is further strengthening this obstacle. Reforms to the judiciary, independent institutions and security forces are essential if we are to consolidate and sustain democracy.

[i] See for example, Shin, Doh Chull (1994), ‘On the third wave of democratization: A synthesis and evaluation of recent theory and research’, World Politics, 47 (1), 135-70.

Ahmed Hamdhan is a third-year Bachelor of Arts (Policy Studies and Political Science) and a student at the Australian National University.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Services halted, Maldivians deprived of progress following “coup”: Nasheed alleges

An array of services formerly provided by the Maldivian government have stopped since President Dr Mohamed Waheed came to power, former President Mohamed Nasheed has alleged.

Nasheed, speaking in local media, has accused the Waheed administration of depriving the Maldivian people of “one and a half years of prosperity” and progress since his government ended following the controversial transfer of power February 7, 2012.

Despite the criticisms, President Waheed has in recent days been touring North Maalhosmadulu Atoll to view developments such as sanitation and education projects that are currently being undertaken by the state.

However, Nasheed alleged that all of the initiatives launched under his administration have since been halted by Waheed’s government, which he said came to power under the guise of protecting the “nation and religion”.

“Every island that I go to, I see commenced projects unfinished. Harbours have come to stop. Sewerage systems have come to a stop. The change of school sessions to a single session have come to a stop. Aasandha has become a Baasandha. Transport has come to halt, everything has stopped. So I think Waheed’s campaign slogan is ‘halted’,” he was quoted as saying by Sun Online.

“President Waheed has neglected the most prosperous one and a half years of this nation. Since my government was changed through a coup, I can only perceive this coup [government] as something that has come to halt,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed was reported to have made the comments during an MDP “Dheythin Fahethi” campaign event on Kurendhoo Island in Lhaviyani Atoll.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad and Spokesperson Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeq were both in meetings and could not respond to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Revenue through tourism

Speaking Friday (April 12) on the island of Rasgetheemu on North Maalhosmadulu Atoll, President Waheed pledged to develop local islands in the area into resorts to help enhance social welfare for local people.

The president claimed that revenue generated through taxing these resort properties would then allow the state to spend a proportionate amount of funds on benefiting nearby islands, while also providing employment for young people.

Pointing to the potential development opportunities provided by tourism, President Waheed also slammed the efforts of “the group of people calling for the boycott of Maldives tourism”.

“In the past one and a half year, a group of people have continuously attempted to defame the Maldives and called upon tourists not to visit the country” he stated.

Boycott calls

In addition to concerns about a recent petition threatening a boycott of tourism in the Maldives – which has now been signed by over two million people since its launch -Waheed also condemned individuals making “false allegations on human rights abuses”.

Dr Waheed urged the Maldivian public to be aware of any such attempts to “destroy the Maldives’ tourism industry”.

The Avaaz petition is calling for legal reforms in the country after a controversial flogging sentence was handed to a 15 year-old rape victim who admitted to having consensual sex with an unnamed man during a police investigation.

The government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed has pledged to appeal the sentence given to the minor by the country’s Juvenile Court, while also reviewing local laws to enact potential reforms over the use of flogging. No time-line for such reforms has yet been set beyond the commitment to hold talks.

In a letter published on Minivan News earlier this month, Executive Director Ricken Patel insisted that the organisation had not called for a outright tourism boycott.

“What we do stand ready to do, however, is to inform tourists about what action is and isn’t being taken by the Maldives government to resolve this issue and change the law, and to identify those MPs and resort owners who are using their influence to push for positive change – and those who are not,” Patel said.


February tourist arrivals to the Maldives increase by 25 percent on 2012

Tourist arrivals for February have increased by over 25 percent compared to the same month in 2012.

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture reveal that an increase of 21,493 tourists visited the Maldives last month compared to February last year.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb told local media in February that he was confident the Maldives would reach one million tourist arrivals in 2012.

Despite the Ministry’s aim, January saw a 7.6 percent drop compared to the same month in 2012 – the first time the Maldives had seen a decrease in January arrivals in three years.

The Asian market – which holds a 43.7 percent share of the overall tourist market – increased by 106.8 percent in February compared to the same month last year.

China, which has the largest share of the market for a single country, saw an increase from just 12,237 tourist arrivals in February 2012 to a total of 33,592 in 2013.

The 174.5 percent increase from Chinese tourists could be attributed to Chinese New Year, which was held in February this year as opposed to January in 2012.

Despite the continuing rise in the Asian market, Europe – which holds the largest share of the tourism market at 51.6 percent – fell by 6.2 percent in February 2013.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom also continued to fall last month from 9,006 in February 2012 to 7,745 in 2013 – a 14 percent decrease.

Tourists from Italy, which has the second largest share of the European market after the UK at 7.5 percent, fell by 12 percent in February compared to the same month in 2012.

Whilst arrivals from southern, western and northern Europe continued to fall, the eastern and central European market grew by 22.9 percent from 9,376 in 2012 to 11,519 in 2013.

Political turmoil

Despite the sharp rise in tourist arrivals last month, February 2012 saw unusually low tourist arrivals following the political instability that took place on February 7, 2012, when former President Mohamed Nasheed was removed from power.

Following widespread media coverage of the country’s political unrest, Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) released a statement claiming that resorts had registered 500 cancellations in the first week following the change of government.

One Shanghai-based travel agent, Sun Yi, told Minivan News she was faced with many cancellations just two days after the events of February 7.

”It has seriously affected our business. Many guests cancelled the Maldivian holiday package which used to be very popular,” she explained, adding that her company had suspended plans to hold a commercial event at a Maldives resort this spring.

“Quite a lot of Chinese customers are very concerned of this situation. Some of them are hesitant to make reservations now,” said Emy Zheng, a Chinese national working at Villuxa Holidays.

‘Cup noodle’ scandal

Meanwhile, calls for a tourism boycott to the Maldives exploded across Chinese social media networks earlier this month, after allegations of discrimination against guests from China at one resort became widely circulated.

On March 1, dismissed Chinese employees of the Beach House Iruveli resort – formerly Waldorf Astoria – posted allegations on the Chinese forum Tianya that guests from the country were receiving inferior treatment to Europeans, despite paying the same prices.

The staff alleged that this discrimination extended to removing kettles from the rooms of Chinese guests, to prevent them making instant noodles in their rooms and thereby forcing them into the resort’s restaurants.

By Sunday, the employees’ post had been forward over 91,000 times across the Chinese blogosphere, according to one report from the International Herald Tribune, and sparked calls for a Chinese tourism boycott of the Maldives in Chinese media.

One Bejing-based travel agent specialising in the Maldives told the South China Morning Post that many Chinese tourists had started cancelling their plans to visit the country.

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb said no formal complaints had been received by Maldivian authorities over alleged discrimination at the country’s resorts.

However, Adheeb asked that in future, any tourists who had such complaints about their treatment file such concerns with the tourism ministry and other relevant authorities rather than through the press and social media.


“Cloudy side of life” protest pamphlet distributed at ITB trade show

Maldives anti-government campaigners have attempted to use this year’s ITB Berlin trade show to draw attention to allegations of police brutality and human rights abuses following the controversial transfer of power back in February 2012.

The Ministry of Tourism last year fell short of its stated aim of welcoming one million visitors to the country during 2012, citing difficulties resulting from media coverage of political turmoil following the change of government that brought President Dr Mohamed Waheed to office.

However, authorities in the country have since pledged to surpass the one million visitor goal in 2013, claiming late last year that the “hard days” were over for tourism in the country following 2012’s political turmoil.

Despite the government’s stance, as part of a so-called silent protest at this year’s ITB event, anti-government campaigners distributed leaflets entitled, ‘the cloudy side of life‘ – a play on the country’s official ‘Sunny Side of Life’ tourism slogan. The publication includes excerpts of reports from the Amnesty International NGO and select quotes from the UN high commissioner for human rights concerning alleged abuses.

“White sandy beaches, dancing palm trees and sparkling cocktails beckon the eager tourist to the Maldives: the emerald Isles in the warm blue Indian Ocean,” the leaflet reads.

“However, a few miles away from your secluded resort island, the same government, backed by the same resort-owners who wave over the honeymooners to the sunny side of life, with their other hand, imposes great injustices, brutality, and human rights abuses on us, the citizens.”

No identification of any organisation or political party in the Maldives affiliated with the leaflet is included on the publication, which accuses the current government of President Waheed of coming to power through a coup and being backed by resort owners advertising at the fair.

It concludes by requesting visitors “reconsider” a decision to visit the Maldives that will “directly fund” alleged human rights abuses and the present “illegal” government.

Last year, a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report welcomed by the US and the UN rejected accusations that the present government came to power illegally, despite claims from former President Nasheed that the report’s conclusions were flawed and failed to include key witness statements and evidence. These allegations were later backed by Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, a one time SAARC Secretary General and Former Human Rights Minister under the current government who was dismissed from her post late last year.

ITB Berlin, which ran this year from March 6 until yesterday (March 10), is one of the world’s largest tourism shows and was attended by Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, as well as a host of local tourism industry figures.

Adheeb was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press,while Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal was not in the country when contacted.

Industry confidence

Speaking back in January this year, Tourism Minister Adheeb said he was confident the industry could meet it goals of bringing one million visitors to the Maldives in 2013,  despite falling short of this mark by 40,000 people in 2012.

“There were a lot of hiccups last year with the political turmoil that the country experienced. It is important that we do not compare ourselves to other destinations like Sri Lanka or Seychelles, as our tourism market is very different. We have a high-value tourism market,” he said at the time.  “We will formulate a strategy to go forward this year.”

Following last year’s transfer of power, the incoming government of President Waheed sought to utilise public relations groups and advertising to try and offset the perceived impact of negative news headlines following the transfer of power.

This focus included agreeing a US$250,000 (MVR 3.8million) advertising deal to promote the country’s tourism industry on the BBC through sponsorship of its weather services, as well as signing a £93,000 per month (US$150,000) contract with public relations group Ruder Finn to try and improve the country’s image internationally.

Boycott calls

Former President Mohamed Nasheed last year called for a tourism boycott of the Maldives, as he continued to question the legitimacy of the government of President Waheeed – his former vice president.

However, these calls were soon dropped by Nasheed and supporters of the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which is still pressing for early elections.

Despite wider fears about the impact of political uncertainty on holidaymakers, Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal claimed back in September 2012 that “the hard days” were over for the Maldives tourism industry following the release of the CNI’s findings.


Police arrest man on suspicion of assaulting Mariya Didi

A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting Maldivian Democratic Party MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, a year after the alleged assault took place.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told local media that the man was arrested on 4 March 2013 in relation to the assault that took place on 7 February 2012.

According to local media, police have been investigating the videos of the unrest that followed the controversial change of power in February 2012.

The police have been criticised by various institutions for a failure to investigate several incidents that took place on February 7 and 8, 2012.


MVR 3000 fine for man who hit police officer

A man who attacked a policeman during the Usfasgandu take over in 2012 has been fined MVR 3000 (US$194.81), local media reported.

The Criminal Court ruled that Hussain Faheem of Thaa Madifushi Faransaage hit the policeman in the chest whilst he was on active duty on May 29, 2012.

Faheem has been ordered to pay the fine within one month to the court.


Defence Minister Nazim rejects allegations of police misconduct on Feb 8

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has rejected accusations that police officers committed criminal or “inhumane” acts against members of the public on February 8, 2012, instead blaming opposition party supporters for violence on the day.

Nazim was reported by newspaper Haveeru as claiming that police and military figures should not be held accountable for injuries sustained by members of the public during protests held over a three-day period between February 6 and February 8, 2012.

On February 7 last year, then President Mohamed Nasheed resigned from office. He subsequently alleged he had been forced to do so under “duress” on the back of a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

Speaking to private broadcaster DhiFM this week, Nazim rejected claims by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) that some officers should be prosecuted for criminal behaviour due to how they dealt with protesters at the time the government changed.

Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) was told by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) on Thursday that certain police officers should be prosecuted for alleged “unlawful actions” they committed in the build up to, and following, last year’s power transfer.

Parliament’s EOC is currently reviewing the report produced by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which looked into the events leading up to February 7, as well as its aftermath.

The CNI report, which was published in August last year, concluded there had been no coup, no duress and no mutiny during the controversial transfer of power that saw President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik sworn into office.  The report did however call for investigations into “acts of police brutality”.

The CNI findings were also welcomed at the time by the US State Department and the United Nations, but have continued to be branded a “whitewash” by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Opposition “offence”

Nazim told DhiFM broadcast that injuries received by members of the public during protests held on February 8, 2012, were a result of confrontations with police.

He maintained that the “truth” of the day, which he claimed had been wiped from public memory, was that supporters of the opposition MDP had carried out an “offence” by committing acts of violence that served to reverse national development by 20 years in certain cases.

Police stations and court houses in six southern atolls were torched during February 8 last year after police violently cracked down in the capital Male’ on a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) march where thousands took to the streets in support of former President Nasheed.

In August last year, terrorism charges were pressed against over 40 people accused of setting the Seenu Gan police station on fire on February 8, including Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed and Addu City Councillor Ahmed Mirzadh.

According to local media, Nazim alleged this week that senior figures in the MDP had requested that the archives and history of islands across the country be set on fire along with courts houses and police stations.

While the defence minister added that police had taken part in unspecified, “unprecedented acts” during the transfer of power, he said that law enforcement and security officials were not at fault for violence during and after the transfer of power, and that former President Nasheed should take full responsibility.

Injuries sustained by members of the public between February 6 and February 8 last year were a result of confronting police officers, Nazim said, and had not been sustained “from being at home”. He maintained that a probe into the clashes was ongoing.

Defence Minister Nazim was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press. Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz’s phone was also switched off.

Prosecution calls

PIC Vice President Haala Hameed said earlier this week that the actions of some police officers during the controversial transfer of power amounted to crimes and should be prosecuted by the PG.

She claimed that the PIC had identified 29 cases of police misconduct, out of which cases concerning six police officers had been sent to the PG for prosecution. Furthermore, the PIC revealed that it had urged Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed to suspend the officers immediately.

Hameed said the commission had failed to identify the police officers in five of the remaining cases, while 11 other cases lacked supporting evidence. She also said the PIC was still investigating seven cases of police misconduct during the transfer of power.

“These are not disciplinary issues, but crimes. Aside from sending cases to the prosecutor general, we also recommended the Home Minister suspend these officers, because of the delays in prosecution. We believe these officers should not be serving in the police,” she said.

Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz disputed Hameed’s claims at the time, suggesting that the actions of police officers did not amount to crimes but were “disciplinary issues”.

“I am not deterred or afraid of carrying out my duty. I am not influenced by anybody. By the will of God, I will continue to carry out my duty. I would have sent cases to court if there had been sufficient evidence needed for a successful prosecution,” Muiz said.

The PIC has said that it had investigated officers involved in alleged abuse as criminal cases rather than as disciplinary matters.

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed responded in local media at the time that cases involving police officers whom the had PIC recommended be dismissed had been sent to the police disciplinary board.

Jameel said the Police Act and the regulations made under the act were very clear as to how a police officer could be dismissed or disciplined. He claimed that he would uphold the law and would not violate the Police Act.

“The PIC is an institution formed under the Police Act. I can’t simply remove a police officer simply based on a recommendation by the commission. That is why I sent the cases to police disciplinary board as soon as I got the [PIC]’s letter,” he told Haveeru.

Jameel also said it would be an unfair dismissal if the court acquitted a police officer who had been dismissed prior a verdict being reached.

Dr Jameel was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

International pressure for a thorough investigation into allegations of police abuse has continued.

The UK government earlier this week called for the government and other parties to work towards institutional reform in areas such as the judiciary, as well as “to fully investigate all allegations of police brutality, as recommended in the CoNI report.”


HRCM findings will reflect CNI conclusions on transfer of power: President’s Office

The government will not make “special” preparations to address the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) once they are published next week, claiming it does not expect any “abnormal” outcome from the report that would see its legitimacy questioned.

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza today told Minivan News that while it did not wish to speculate on the CNI’s outcome before receiving its findings on August 29, the government expected similar conclusions regarding the transfer of power to those of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has dismissed the government’s claims, adding that the CNI was an independent body, overseen by international partners, and would therefore focus on the “big picture” concerning the power transfer, rather than any individual report.

The HRCM yesterday publicly released several reports around alleged human rights abuses committed in the lead up to February 7, as well as reported violations that occurred once the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came into power on February 8.

Among some of the key findings of the reports were that former President Nasheed gave “unlawful orders” to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and police officers at the Artificial Beach area on the evening of February 6. The HRCM also concluded that the Maldives Police Service needed to investigate alleged brutality conducted by its own officers after the transfer of power.

The HRCM’s findings are expected to be taken into consideration by the panel currently overseeing the CNI, which includes members appointed by President Waheed and a representative for former President Mohamed Nasheed. Under its reformed composition, the CNI is also co-chaired by retired Singaporean judge Govinda Pannir Selvam. Representatives from the United Nations and the Commonwealth will also advise the CNI’s work.

The CNI was initially established by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the details of February’s controversial transfer of power, before having its board reconstituted following international and domestic pressure.

Potential outcomes

With the government expected to receive the CNI’s report on August 29 – a day before it will be released to the public – Abbas Adil Riza said that the President’s Office saw “no need” to devise plans to address the potential outcomes of the CNI.

“The HRCM report has proven what we have always maintained about how this government came to power. We expect similar findings [from the CNI] that the previous chief executive displayed gross negligence and a violation of laws. We don’t expect a different stand,” he claimed. “However, on the basis of the CNI report, we will take necessary actions against any criminal behaviour found to have been committed at the time, should issues be raised.”

Abbas added that elections were therefore still scheduled for July 2013. Both the MDP and the Commonwealth Ministerial Acton Group (CMAG) have called for early elections to be held during 2012 to resolve the increasingly bittier political divide in the country.

With President Waheed expected to travel to Sri Lanka tomorrow for a postponed state visit, Abbas claimed that no discussions regarding the CNI and its outcomes were planned with Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa.

He added that the visit would therefore be focused on high-level talks concerning wider bilateral relations and commercial opportunities between the two nations.

“Out of context”

Responding to the release yesterday of the HRCM’s findings, MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the party’s “experts” were studying the individual reports at present before making comment.

However, on a first glance basis, he accused the HRCM of publishing a “convoluted array of statements” that were additionally “out of context” with wider happenings during the transfer of power.

“The report accuses [former] President Nasheed of issuing unconstitutional orders, the whole thing is out of context and frozen over a 48 hour period,” he said. “At this stage, I would say there are many oversights in these findings.”

Ghafoor added that Abbas’ claims that the CNI would draw a similar conclusion to the HRCM’s findings reflected the position taken by Umar Naseer, Interim Deputy Leader of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

On Sunday (August 19), Naseer leaked details of the HRCM’s findings before they had been released publicly, focusing on claims that Nasheed had given “unlawful orders” to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and police officers at the Artificial Beach area on the evening of February 6.

He added that the HRCM report concluded that the MNDF and police officers at the Artificial Beach area were “unlawfully” ordered to leave the area, which led to a breakdown in command and control of the security forces.

The HRCM report was also said by Naseer to conclude that Nasheed’s orders to leave the area violated article 245 of the constitution, by obstructing security forces from fulfilling their lawful duties.

However, Ghafoor added that he was “not concerned” that the HRCM’s findings would lead the CNI to dismiss the MDP’s allegation that it was removed from office in a “coup d’etat”.

He claimed that due to international participation, the CNI, as an independent body, was well placed to view the HRCM report in the wider context of Maldivian politics. Ghafoor claimed that the CNI would be aware of alleged concerns over the conduct of the country’s independent institutions to do their work without political influence.

Ghafoor alleged that during the last three years, the majority of former opposition, now government-aligned, MPs had allowed the country’s independent institutions to be “shielded” from scrutiny concerning the outcomes of their work.

“The HRCM has always been a source of problems concerning independence” he claimed. “You just need to look at its failure to investigate the atrocities committed under the former government [of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom].”