The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has amended its regulations to impose punishments on officers found guilty of inciting ‘upheaval and chaos’, as rumours of possible disgruntlement among military personnel spreads across social media.
The Military Act amendment, which focuses on conduct by officers to support a coup or “chaos” in the armed forces, comes shortly after the MNDF issued a statement of condemnation, claiming that some media outlets had been “sowing discord and disorder in the military.”
Within hours of the amendment coming into force, First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef was handed an ‘indefinite suspension’ from the service on the grounds that he was found guilty of attempting to cause upheaval and chaos within the military rank.
The new amendment, which came into force on Wednesday (October 3) will be included as the 22nd chapter of the Military Regulation. The document was quickly leaked onto twitter.
The introductory provision of the amendment (Page 1 and Page 2) states: “This is the chapter that defines the ‘upheaval and chaos’ mentioned in the Section 33 of the Military Act which states upheavals and chaos that are incited through speech, writing, action or gesture amongst members of the military.”
Section 33 of the Military Act states – “Any officer who orchestrates a coup, or incites upheaval and chaos within the military, or attempts to commit such an act, or supports such an act, or remains silent whilst having knowledge of such attempts, or delays in informing of such an attempt, is held liable under this act.”
The new definition of incitement of ‘upheaval and chaos’ laid down in the new amendment includes:
- Making demands through petitions drawn among two or more officers
- Displaying content that could sow discord and disorder amongst military flanks through speech, writing, graphical depictions, photographs or any other means
- Speech or conduct that amounts to doubts and questions being raised about the legality of an order given to the officers or a group of officers and
- Incitement of hatred and false allegations towards the upper ranks of the military.
The amendment also states that any officer whose actions or attempts to incite action fall within the ambit of the definition laid down would face administrative action and penalties.
A snapshot of the announcement obtained by Minivan News stated that accusations levied against First Lieutenant Shareef had been confirmed by statements from other MNDF officials questioned during an internal investigation.
Therefore First Lieutenant Shareef had been suspended under the section 4(a) of the MNDF Employment Regulation, read the announcement.
MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem confirmed to Minivan News that the amendment to the regulations had been enforced, as well the suspension of First Lieutenant Shareef.
Letter of concern and resignation of First Lieutenant Mohamed Haleem
On Monday (October 3), senior officers in the MNDF sent a “letter of concern” to Chief of Defence Force Major-General Ahmed Shiyam, following the failure of the country to hold scheduled elections on September 28.
Colonel Raheem – a signatory of the letter himself – has confirmed the authenticity of the letter, telling Minivan News earlier this week that the letter had been intended to inform the MNDF leadership of their “concerns about political turbulence in the country right now and how the military should plan and prepare for it”.
Another officer who signed the letter told Minivan News on condition of anonymity:
“This is not a petition. It is a letter of concern over the Supreme Court’s order to delay elections, the failure of state institutions, and the possible politicisation of the military, and asking that unconstitutional orders not be issued.”
The officer also said that the letter had been signed by ranks including Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Captains, First Lieutenants, Sergeant Majors and Warrant Officers.
A copy of the letter obtained by Minivan News showed that the suspended First Lieutenant Shareef was also a signatory of the letter.
Other signatories included Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal, Colonel Hamid Shafeeq, Colonel Ahmed Jihad, Lance Colonel Nasrulla Majdee, Captain Abdul Muizz, Lance Colonel Ibrahim Hilmy, Sergeant Major Hassan Fawaz, Sergeant Major Naushad Ali, and Captain Hassan Amir.
Colonel Mohamed Ziyad – who is also facing criminal prosecution for his alleged role in controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed – is also a signatory to the document.
The signature of former Military Intelligence Head Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam– who testified in parliament stating that controversial ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 2012 had all the essentials of a coup d’etat – is also on the document. Nilam remains under suspension after being relieved of his duties in January.
The first letter – which preceded an internal shuffle, including a marine commander being switched to another unit – was followed by a second piece of correspondence in which First Lieutenant Mohamed Haleem requested resignation from the defense force over “difficulties in executing his duties”.
“I do not believe the security services are currently adhering to the constitutional provisions stated in articles 237 and 238. Also, while the spirit of article 246 of the constitution is, to refrain from political affiliations and to treat equally among the people and different groups, respecting the principles of Islam and human dignity, I do not see this currently happening [within the security services],” First Lieutenant Haleem stated in the letter.
“For the last 23 years [of my military service], I have served this country under a solemn oath taken in the name of Allah, I do not see any way that I can carry out my duties as prescribed in the constitution and the military act, while in this position, therefore I request you to relieve me from my duties,” he concluded.
General Didi appeals the MNDF to uphold the law
Former Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi – regarded as a hero for his exploits during the 1988 Tamil coup attempt – also issued a letter over social media earlier this week.
“Given the sad state of affairs this country has fallen to, as a person who came out to sacrifice my life to protect holy Islam and this nation when required, as a person who would still take any action required in the best interest of this country, people and religion and as a person who has been trained and acquired military expertise at the expense of the public funds, I could not remain silent today. I believe it is a national and a religious duty to say something on the issue,” he wrote.
“My advice to the military officers is: ‘Do not give the opportunity to anyone who plans to rule this country by taking the laws to their own hands and override the constitution and undermine the constitutional framework of this country’,” wrote Didi, who was the Male’ Area Commander during the 7 February 2012 controversial power transfer before resigning “prematurely” from his 32 year career on July 16, 2012.
A similar plea was also made by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan in an address to the nation this week, during which he called upon security services to “prioritise the greater interest of this state”.