Political leaders take to twitter to mark February 7th

Political leaders have taken to social media to mark three years since the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012.

While former President and leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Maumoon Abdul Gayoom wished all “patriotic Maldivians” a “Happy 7th February”, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Nasheed posted the lyrics of a melancholic Dhivehi ballad.

Nasheed’s message contained the lyrics to a song which describes the “many tears shed that day” – originally written about the death of a couple from Galolhu Penzeemaage, killed when their Dhoni capsized near Malé in the 1980s.

He has made no other official comments regarding the day of his departure from office.

Nasheed resigned on February 7, 2012, after mutinying security forces joined anti-government protesters, demonstrating against the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed – for which Nasheed still faces criminal charges.

The protests’ leaders included key opposition figures from PPM, Jumhooree Party (JP), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party.

Current Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer – who stood in the front lines of opposition protests against Nasheed’s presidency – said yesterday that the date was a “proud day for Maldives, Islam and the constitution”, thanking everyone who stood against the country’s fourth president.

Naseer this weekend announced his exit from JP after the party joined the MDP in an agreement to defending the Constitution – receiving public praise from Gayoom for his decision.

Meanwhile, other protagonists in the events surrounding Nasheed’s resignation struck a more conciliatory tone, with Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla saying “the nation cannot move forwards without forgiving and building friendships”.

Sheikh Imran described the events of February 7 and 8, 2012 as “dangerous and sad”.

After supporting Gasim in the first round of the 2013 presidential elections and President Abdulla Yameen in the run-off, Adhaalath is considered an unofficial coalition partner in the government, with the party assigned the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Nasheed has recently used the events leading up to and following his departure from office to suggest that the current government has lost legitimacy following the JP’s withdrawal from the governing coalition.

He has cited the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report, which concluded that change of government was “legal and constitutional”, and the events of February 6-7 “were, in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed”.

“[I]t is evident that President Nasheed lost the support of the coalition supporting the MDP which had brought him to power and it is an irrefutable fact that MDP never enjoyed a clear majority in the Parliament,” read the Commonwealth-assisted report.

Even without the support of the JP’s 13 MPs, the ruling PPM currently enjoys a clear majority in the People’s Majlis, controlling 49 seats alongside the its ally, the Maldivian Development Alliance.

Nasheed stated last week that, with the CoNI report arguing that the transfer of power on February 7 was made in accordance with the law: “Yameen, we are also going to change your government in that very path deemed legal”.

Related to this story

Maldives government changes in dramatic scenes after police elements join opposition protest

MDP alleges 117 cases filed against February 8 2012 protesters “politically motivated”

Gasim defiant as opposition sign agreement to defend Constitution


MDP cautious over police conduct as Commonwealth assigns election security consultant

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed caution following the Commonwealth’s decision to assign a security expert to observe police conduct during the 2013 presidential election.

The opposition party this week questioned the Commonwealth’s previous lack of success in ensuring security force reforms, adding that it remained “highly suspicious” of Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz’s conduct in the build up to the election.

Police announced this week that the Commonwealth had appointed Eldred de Klerk to assist with ensuring election security, a decision they declared was in line with “international best practices” after requesting the intergovernmental organisation provide consultancy services.

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz met with de Klerk in Male’ on Sunday (August 26) to discuss his planned work ahead of the election.

Minivan News understands a similar request was made to the UN, which opted instead to work with others members of the international community to try and ensure the “smooth running” of next month’s election. Despite rejecting the police service’s request, a UN source today said it appreciated the Commonwealth’s contribution.

The Maldives Police Service earlier this month launched an operation to send large numbers of police officers to islands in preparation for the presidential election with the stated aim of ensuring voting goes peacefully.

Riyaz is also the subject of an ongoing Police Integrity Commission (PIC) investigation over whether he contravened regulations on political neutrality by publishing a letter written by a third party on Twitter urging officers to “say no” to former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The PIC has maintained that it had received no formal complaints concerning the tweet, but was instead investigating the case on the commission’s “own initiative”.

Contacted today on the status of its investigation into the post, the PIC said it was not the commission’s policy to give details of an ongoing case, while also declining to provide a time-line for whether such a “complicated” matter would be finished before September 7.

In July, Commissioner Riyaz said his institution would continue to refuse any orders it deems “unconstitutional”, after expressing concerns over leaked proposals allegedly devised by the MDP to reform the country’s security forces.

Party reaction

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the party was cautious at the Commonwealth’s decision to provide an elections security consultant after it’s lack of success in ensuring the police reforms called for in the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report it had backed.

“We will have to wait to find out if the Commonwealth is actually trying to help diffuse mutinous elements [in the police],” said Ghafoor.

The CoNI report was mandated to ascertain the truth behind the MDP’s allegations that former President Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign from office on February 7, 2012, due to a “coup d’etat”, after sections of the police and military mutinied against the government.

While the CoNI report concluded there was “no coup, no duress and no mutiny” behind the change of government, the findings did urge changes to the country’s judiciary, legislature, certain independent institutions, and the police service.

The MDP added that it currently had no plans to meet with the Commonwealth’s election security consultant despite its concerns.

“It would be up to the consultant to come and talk with us,” Ghafoor said. “All we know is, if police try to cause any disruption during the election, all hell is going to break loose.”

Despite the MDP’s concerns, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said the party welcomed the Commonwealth’s appointment of a security specialist to assist with ensuring election security ahead of what was likely to be a “highly competitive election”.

Nihan said that although police should have no role in running the election or visiting polling stations – unless required by the country’s Elections Commission (EC) – it was important that officers were present in case of significant disruption.

“Things can go wrong in any given circumstance,” he said, reiterating concerns expressed earlier this week by his party that “major incidents” on the day of voting could compromise a free and fair vote.

Elections Commission criticism

The PPM maintained that it was more concerned with the competency of the country’s EC and its commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek ahead of next month’s vote – rather than security issues with the police.

Nihan maintained that the PPM, along with election rival the Jumhoree Party (JP), were more concerned at what it alleged was the “mishandling” of the upcoming election by the EC, expressing particular concern over whether the commission’s president was fit for the post.

He accused the EC over the last two and a half months of failing to address the party’s concerns about holding free and fair polls, claiming it “could have done better”, while also questioning the timing of allowing IT experts from India to be programming software for the commission. Nihan accused the EC of only offering rebuttals to the party’s concerns.

However, EC President Fuwad Thowfeek this week told Minivan News that he had met with a PPM delegation several times in the build up to voting, providing what he called detailed queries to their questions.

“Every time [the EC has met with the PPM] we have very clearly explained everything to them, answered all their queries and gave very detailed responses to them,” he said. “But there are some demands that we cannot meet. For example, one of their demands was to see our IT section. They wanted to see the hardware and software of our network system, which we cannot do and we are not ready to do for the safety and security of our system.”

The Maldives NGO Federation last week expressed concern that political parties were attempting to discredit the Elections Commission (EC) by inciting hatred toward the institution in an effort to obstruct the holding of a free and fair presidential election.


Turkish training will strengthen police, says Commissioner Riyaz

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has hailed a new agreement between the Turkish Government and the Maldives Police Service (MPS) as providing the means to strengthen the institution.

Returning from an official trip to Turkey last week, Riyaz posted a video statement online revealing the full details of the memorandum of understanding with Turkish police.

“They have agreed to give us 5 slots in a degree programme in a security studies course, as well as 2 slots in a masters programme, scheduled to start in their Police Academy next month,” he explained.

The police commissioner also revealed that the MPS will, in future, be offered instruction in policing corruption, drugs, and serious organised crime.

“We have also asked for assistance with obtaining police electronics, computers, vehicles and infrastructure. They appeared positive and said they will respond to proposals on a case by case, project by project basis,” he continued.

The Turkish government has reportedly been offering similar training and assistance to a number of countries this year, including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Albania, Mongolia, Palestine, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.

Riyaz’s announcement of the deal’s specifics follows criticisms by former President Mohamed Nasheed over what he believes is a lack of police reform following the publication of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report last year.

Speaking at the opening of a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) campaign outlet in Male’ yesterday (August 19), Nasheed reportedly told supporters that he had failed to see any police reform, despite his acceptance of the CoNI report being based solely on this feature.

The report, designed to investigate the circumstances surrounding Nasheed’s controversial resignation on February 7, 2012, urged changes to the country’s judiciary, legislature, certain independent institutions, and the police service.

Nasheed and the ousted MDP have maintained that the former president’s resignation took place under duress during a police and military mutiny, and that the ensuing government of Dr Mohamed Waheed is illegitimate.

Whilst ruling the transfer of power not to have been a coup, the commission recommended “immediate steps be taken to provide assistance and encouragement…with a view to their increased effectiveness and general performance in the service of the common good and public interest.”

Commissioner Riyaz, appointed immediately after Nasheed’s controversial resignation, has been condemned by the MDP for his alleged role in the former president’s exit from office.

Despite his misgivings over the police’s progress towards addressing the CoNI report’s recommendations, Nasheed struck a conciliatory tone towards police, urging cooperation from his supporters.

“During this period, I urge all members of this party to smile at police officers, to care for them, to cooperate with them and trust them,” he said.

Local media also reported Nasheed as expressing his wish to address each police officer individually in his attempts to press ahead with reforming the institution.

“I believe that Maldives cannot have stability without reforming the police service,” said Nasheed.

Riyaz last month said he would not follow any unconstitutional orders, following a leaked document purported to be the MDP’s plans for introducing decentralised security services in the event of victory in next month’s presidential poll. The document was disowned by Nasheed’s party.


MDP willing to discuss interim government with PPM: Nasheed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed announced the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) willingness to discuss enacting an interim government with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which the party believes is essential for free and fair elections to occur.

The MDP has desired the establishment of an interim government since the controversial transfer of power of February 7, 2012 and is open to holding discussions with the PPM to establish a transitional government prior to September’s Presidential elections, Nasheed stated during a press conference held at the Mookai Hotel in Male’ today (May 16).

“If PPM wants to bring in an interim government, we are ready to hold discussions. MDP wants an interim government. We at MDP have always wanted an interim government. But we need support from other parties to do that in parliament. If PPM is so inclined, we are ready to hold discussions with PPM to achieve this,” Nasheed said.

“For free and fair elections [to take place], we are encouraged that PPM has pledged to stop Waheed from campaigning on state funds,” he added.

The MDP is continuing its call for the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) recommendations to be implemented, with the supervision of the international community. Nasheed stated he was disappointed CoNI recommendations have yet to be enacted – especially regarding holding to account those who mutinied against the government and committed various brutal acts, including destroying the MDP’s headquarters.

Nasheed said that the MDP did not believe free and fair elections were possible with Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Defence Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim in their current positions, and has asked they be “transferred” from their current posts.

He distinguished between ‘rank and file’ Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MDNF) and their leadership. Nasheed said action should be taken against the highest ranking officers for their role on February 7.

MDP Spokesperson Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News today that local media reports of Nasheed calling for Riyaz and Nazim to be “forcibly removed” are inaccurate, however the former President has called for their removal and transfer “as far away from their current positions as possible”.

“They are already enacting measures of intimidation under the guise of ‘coordination’ by requesting political parties give the name of a person to work with the police. The Elections Commission should be enacting such a policy, not the police. It’s very strange and highly suspicious,” said Zuhair.

Should PPM be of the same view that an interim government is necessary for credible elections to be held, MDP would work through the parliament to discuss with PPM, Zuhair explained.

“PPM’s President and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has said their party would ‘go it alone’ and not form a coalition, because that would not allow policies to be implemented effectively. Then the natural next step [for the PPM] would be to gain parliamentary support from the only player able to give support, MDP,” said Zuhair.

PPM Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Nihan today rejected the likelihood of the government-aligned party working with the opposition MDP to remove President Waheed from office ahead of elections in September.

“I do not believe this is a possibility. If it was possible, we would have done this already I believe,” he said.

Nihan claimed that the PPM’s main concern at present was for free and fair elections to take place. However, he added that with the Commonwealth-backed CoNI concluding that President Waheed’s coalition government – which includes the PPM – had come to power legitimately, it would not back the MDP’s calls for the present administration to be removed.

Nihan added that, while continuing to support the present coalition government, many PPM supporters believed that the party presently represented one of only two political ideologies in the country. These philosophies he said were those of PPM founder former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and former President Nasheed and the MDP.

Nihan claimed that the majority of the country’s smaller parties, including those choosing to side with President Waheed in a pre-election coalition, were all rooted to former President Gayoom and his “political wisdom”.

“Strange bedfellows”

Nasheed also addressed the recent addition of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the President Mohamed Hassan Manik’s coalition – which includes his Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) – and it’s incompatibility with a democratic presidential system of governance.

Nasheed expressed his happiness about Gayoom’s statement that coalitions do not work because they are not in line with a presidential governing system and are instead more reflective of a parliamentary system.

“I am very happy that President Gayoom – [who is] no doubt is the most experienced political leader [in the nation] – has been very clear about how inefficient for democratic policies the formation of coalitions are in a presidential system,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed noted that the Adhaalath Party and Sheiks’ extremist views will pose difficulties for the GIP-led coalition. Although the DRP are billing themselves as a moderate party, they will not establish the national ‘bastion of tolerance’ they claim to be purporting, Nasheed said.

The former President believes the coalition is a “hodgepodge” mix of ideologies, not politics and these “strange bedfellows” cannot achieve anything.

DRP disintegration

Nasheed stated that the alliance between GIP and DRP is only agreement between the two individual and not reflective of grassroots DRP supporters. He believes that DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and Waheed had no other choice and formed the coalition out of sheer necessity.

He also stated that the recent coalition has not produced a “third ideology” and that only two ideologies exist in the Maldives.

During door to door campaigning, the MDP has noticed that DRP grassroots support is disintegrating. They are either merging with PPM or joining MDP, according to MDP Press Director Mohamed Zuhair.

Additionally, Zuhair discussed the distinction President Nasheed made between other parties and MDP. He highlighted that MDP policies are formulated by consulting every household to asses the Maldivian people’s needs. This is followed by holding consultative seminars, with the feedback passed to the party’s ‘organs’ for discussion, then to policy committees, with the process culminating in an announcement.

“None of the other parties have this method,” said Zuhair.

“So far three policies have been announced, and the fourth – agrobusiness – will be announced tomorrow,” he continued.

“MDP is focusing on policy issues, having to ‘go out on the road’ and stage protests to ensure free and fair elections will change the entire dynamics of the campaign. We are hoping it doesn’t come to that,” said Zuhair.


Facebook shuts down anti-government protest page without notice

Facebook has shut down a prominent pro-Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Facebook page, ‘Kula Yellow’, without notice.

The anti-government page was first established in May 2010 and spread by word of mouth, attracting a strong following among Maldivian young people and reaching 23,000 ‘ likes’. Facebook did not contact the administrators before shutting down the popular social media news source, at approximately 6:30pm on Tuesday, March 5.

According to an analysis conducted by Kula Yellow on the site Social Bakers, the youth-run, self-described “name and shame” platform is one of the most popular social media news sources in the Maldives.

Kula Yellow is a reference to MDP’s political party color. The page promises a “source of information against President Mohamed Waheed regime and a tool to mobilise people against continued human rights abuses and police brutality.”

“MDP is fighting for freedom. Kula Yellow facilitates that by providing a platform for them to spread their views, organise protests and events, and it is very helpful if any message needs to be conveyed to supporters instantaneously,” a Kula Yellow co-founder told Minivan News.

“We are updating and uploading media of police and government brutality 24 hours a day. Our posts have revealed many, many, many government secrets and they can’t digest it. Kula Yellow is a threat to them,” he claimed.

“Additionally we have saved many, many, many lives through our social work. For example, if anyone – they don’t have to be an MDP supporter – needs a blood donation we post on the page to find a matching donor,” the co-founder added.

Although the page has never been shut down before, five of the most active administrators have had their personal accounts blocked or shut down since former President Mohamed Nasheed’s controversial resignation February 7, 2012, a Kula Yellow co-founder and administrator told Minivan News.

“Some of the most active administrators’ have been blocked several times following the coup. This was a problem for us on the release date of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) as well. The current Maldivian government cannot digest anything we are reporting and they are subsequently blocking media freedom,” he contended.

“I’m sure it’s a government act. They are sending continuous complaint reports to Facebook saying Kula Yellow is ‘spreading lies and inciting violence’, but that is not true,” the co-founder stated.

“There are only two or three news media outlets, and newspapers Haveeru and Sun Online back the current government,” he added. “Kula Yellow fills a gap by trying to explain the coup and give a voice to Maldivian people. The government didn’t like what we were posting and cannot come down on us under Maldivian law. Of course they are trying to block us, I’m sure they formally complained to Facebook,” the administrator stated.

“Maldivian intelligence from the Police Services and Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) monitor [telecommunications companies] Dhiraagu and Wataniya calls and text messages. They are always trying to intercept communications,” the Kula Yellow administrator said, matter-of-factly.

A second Kula Yellow administrator explained there were many admins spread throughout the Maldives, and they took down inappropriate content, such as threats or misinformation.

“Kula Yellow is very open because it’s a social media platform for the public, so on the rare occasion someone puts inappropriate content on the ‘wall’ the administrators take it down immediately. We try our best,” he said.

“We are not like the many hate pages that supporters of Waheed’s government have up – all of which are up and running smoothly,” he said.

“We will interfere”: police

Police denied issuing complaints about Kula Yellow to Facebook, but admitted to telecommunications interference.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that “so far we haven’t reported anything to Facebook”.

“We will interfere if any social network or internet site is not [run] according to Maldivian law and order,” Haneef added.

The MNDF also denied interfering with the Kula Yellow page, as Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem explained to Minivan News.

“We have not asked anyone to take down Kula Yellow, not to my knowledge. Was it the communications ministry or something like that? They can say anything,” Raheem said.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad denied knowledge of Kula Yellow’s existence, as well as any government interference with it being shut down.

“I have never heard about this Kula Yellow thing that you are talking about. We [the government] do not worry about these pages. How do you know Facebook took it down? Facebook is too big to worry about small little pages. The fact that the page has been taken down has nothing to do with the government,” Masood said.

“Maybe they themselves took it down. If their page has been hacked, or shut down maybe the page owners can follow it up with Facebook,” said Masood.

In 2012, administrators of Kula Yellow claimed they had been “threatened” by police over their page’s content. Police officials denied the accusations.

Facebook activism

Kula Yellow contacted Facebook immediately to reinstate the page and say they remain hopeful their page will be restored quickly.

“Yesterday’s action seemed to be a targeted response to the regime’s arbitrary arrest of the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed,” stated Kula Yellow.

“Kula Yellow is disappointed by the action taken against the page by Facebook and calls for them to immediately reconsider and place their support with the people of the Maldives.”

A Kula Yellow co-founder lamented that the situation in the Maldives was very complex and contend that Facebook “clearly does not understand Kula Yellow.”

“Facebook did not check to verify what the government, or individuals from the government regime, were reporting. They were probably following their company policy to remove the page if they received numerous complaints.

“This happened in Syria also. Then journalists reported the story and helped get the page(s) reinstated,” a Kula Yellow co-founder stated.

Kula Yellow is exhorting diplomats and international actors to “understand that this is a violation of our human rights, particularly freedom of expression, and should support Facebook reinstating the Kula Yellow page immediately”.

“There are already many fake Kula Yellow Facebook pages going up and this will continue to spread like wildfire in the jungle. The government can’t stop us. We don’t give a damn. There are a thousand ways to move forward, so well will just find another way.

“In the interim our Twitter page is active,” a Kula Yellow administrator added.

The Maldives this year plummeted to 103rd in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index, a fall of 30 places and a return to pre-2008 levels.

Additionally, the Maldives is one of two countries to be dropped from Freedom House’s list of electoral democracies, in its annual survey of political rights and civil liberties.

Facebook had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.


Deadline to seek foreign experts for CoNI investigation extended

The deadline to seek two foreign experts for investigation into the report of Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) has been extended, local media has reported.

Parliament’s Committee on Oversight of the Government decided to extend the deadline until Sunday, as proper procedure was not followed when the announcement was published on the website by the parliament office, local media stated.

Committee Chairperson and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Waheed was quoted by local media as saying that the announcement, written in English, had been published in the Dhivehi section of the parliament website rather than in the English section.

“I am concerned about what the employees of the parliament office have done. It’s not acceptable that an announcement that should have been published in the English section was published in the Dhivehi section. We have to pay attention to this,” Waheed was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

Committee members said that individuals interested in applying for assisting in the investigation of the CoNI report did not have any information on how to apply for this post, local media reported.

The announcement seeks two experts who have experience working in world legislative assemblies, who are willing to work with the committee members for two weeks.


“Legal order” last option to compel judges to attend committee: MDP

A “legal order” from parliament is the last available option to compel three judges of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to attend parliament’s Government Oversight Committee, following their refusal to answer two previous summons, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said in a statement on Saturday.

The press release stated that “the excuses” offered by the three magistrates on administrative grounds – contending that as judges of the lower courts they doubted whether they could answer questions regarding the Commission of National Inquiry’s report and that they needed to await a decision by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – were “reasons that lacked any principle.”

“Therefore, the party notes that the measure left to be taken to bring the summoned judges to the Majlis committee is to issue a legal order to that effect,” the statement read.

Asked for clarification on the “legal order”, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor said that the statement did not refer to a court order contrary to the “assumption” by Sun Online and Haveeru.

“No mention was made of a court order in the news brief. Sun appear to have assumed so. The Majlis can bring out an ‘amuru‘ [order] according to house rules,” Hamid explained.

‘Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’

The MDP also contests the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, which was created by the JSC before the enactment of the Judicature Act in October 2010.

A constitutional case concerning the magistrate court is currently pending at the Supreme Court.

Writing in his personal blog on October 9, Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi South, Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, explained that a magistrate court could not be established at Hulhumale’ as the Judicature Act states that magistrate courts should be set up in inhabited islands aside from Male’ without a division of the trial courts (Criminal Court, Civil Court, Family Court and Juvenile Court).

According to appendix two of the constitution, Hulhumale’ is a district or ward of Male’ and not a separate inhabited island. The former magistrate court at Hulhumale’ should therefore have been dissolved when the Judicature Act was ratified, Nasheed argued.

The three magistrates of the contested Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court are Shujau Usman, Abdul Nasir Abdul Raheem and Hussain Mazeed.

“Summon any person”

The MDP statement meanwhile observed that article 99(a) of the constitution states that the People’s Majlis or any of its committee has the power to “summon any person to appear before it to give evidence under oath, or to produce documents. Any person who is questioned by the People’s Majlis as provided for  in this article shall answer to the best of his knowledge and ability.”

However, following the first attempt to summon the magistrates, the JSC and the Supreme Court made public statements insisting that the JSC was the only authority empowered by the constitution to hold judges accountable.

A statement by the JSC on October 9 citing the constitution, the Judicature Act and the Judicial Service Commission Act contended that no other state institution could interfere with the work of judges or make any attempt to hold judges accountable.

Under article 159(b) of the constitution, the JSC is empowered with the power and responsibility “to investigate complaints about the judiciary, and to take disciplinary action against them, including recommendations for dismissal.”

Parties in the ruling coalition have meanwhile condemned the decision to summon the magistrates as an attempt to influence the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court on charges of illegally detaining Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

The formerly ruling MDP has a voting majority on the Government Oversight Committee.

While Speaker Abdulla Shahid sent the summons issued by the committee on October 9, local media reported that parliament’s Counsel General Fathmath Filza had advised that summoning judges was not within the mandate of the committee.

Meanwhile, following the judges’ snub of the second summons, MDP MP Ali Waheed told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday that the actions of the magistrates and the JSC as well as the Supreme Court’s encouragement of their behaviour was a “cat and mouse game” played by the judiciary.

“What we are witnessing is a ‘cat and mouse’ or a ‘hide and seek’ game being played between parliament and judiciary. If that is the case, we are going to play the cat and mouse chase, because we are not going to step back from our responsibilities,” he said.


No restrictions as UK updates Maldives travel advisory over potential CNI unrest

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated a travel advisory for the Maldives on August 24 to account for potential violent clashes linked to the release of findings by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI). Despite the update, the advisory has not recommended any restrictions regarding travel to the Maldives.

A statement on the official website of UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated that there was a risk of unrest that may become worse after the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) releases its report on the controversial transfer of power on February 7.  The CNI is charged to look into the controversial transfer of power on February 7 that brought President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan into office.

‘’There have been political demonstrations in the capital island of Male’. There is currently an increased risk of unrest and this may heighten towards the end of August when a politically significant report is expected to be released,’’ the statement said.

‘’Some previous demonstrations have resulted in violent clashes involving police, military and demonstrators. We advise that you stay alert, exercise caution and avoid demonstrations and spontaneous gatherings.’’

Meanwhile, in a video statement posted Friday (August 23), the UK High Commissioner for the Maldives and Sri Lanka, John Rankin, said that he would not like to speculate on the contents of the CNI Report before it is released when he was queried whether he thinks it will be fair.

“The UK follows the events in the Maldives closely and I and my team visit their on a regular basis. It will be wrong for me to speculate on the contents of the CNI report, we look forward to seeing it when it comes out,’’ Rankin stated in the video.

‘’But in the meantime we urge all the parties to remain clam, for people to refrain from violence. And for there to be a political dialogue, UK remains in touch with all the parties and our shared goal is for stability, peace and democracy for the Maldivian people.’’

Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Gafoor, Minister for Tourism, Arts, and Culture and Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal were not responding to calls by Minivan News at the time of press regarding the update to the FCO advisory. The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) Secretary General ‘Sim’ Mohamed Ibrahim was also not responding to calls at the time.

Following February’s controversial transfer of power, the UK FCO advised against “all but essential travel to Male’ island” in reaction to violent clashes at the time between security forces and protesters against the new government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.  Former President Mohamed Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have alleged that the present government of Dr Waheed came to power at the time in a “coup d’etat”.

In the ensuing clashes, the travel industry was quick to respond at the time that there had been no violence or unrest at the country’s main airport, from where guests are transferred to their resorts safely without having to travel through the capital of Male’ where protests had been mainly based.

Kuoni, which is one of the largest European tour operators working in the country, continued to fly UK customers to the country without incident, yet urged caution for tourists staying in Male’, while cancelling all excursions to the capital.

The United Kingdom was the source of tourists to the Maldives before 2010, before being overtaken by China. In 2011, however, the UK market still represented 11.2 percent of all arrivals in the country.

The travel advisory was followed by similar moves from major European travel markets such as Germany. These advisories were removed by the respective authorities as of March 2012.


Former Commission of National Inquiry panel releases timeline “for public opinion”

The former three-member panel of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) has released a ‘timeline’ of events it claims took place from the period of January 16 to February 7, for the stated purpose of “finding public opinion”.

The composition of the panel has since been revised to include a representative of former President Mohamed Nasheed and a retired Singaporean judge, as well as international monitors from both the Commonwealth and UN.

The 282-point Dhivehi document does not feature any input from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who contested the panel’s impartiality prior to the re-composition. The report begins its findings on the day police attempted to summon Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, to the day the controversial transfer of power took place. The panel conducted interviews with assorted non-MDP participants, however the report does not source its findings.

The night of February 6

The timeline suggests the initial ‘turning point’ of the unrest began on the night of February 6, after the supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) arrived at the artificial beach in Male’ where supporters of the coalition of then-opposition parties had already been protesting, calling for the release of Judge Abdulla and for the constitution to be upheld.

The timeline states that the Specialist Operation (SO) officers of the police had stationed themselves in Heniveru Stadium, in preparation to prevent any violence that may have taken place if supporters from both sides clashed.

The report stated that police intervened after they received information that the situation was deteriorating from two police officers who were there to assess the situation.

It states that police intervention calmed the situation and cordoned a security line between the two protesting parties, after forcing them further behind the sides of the area they had been protesting.

The three member panel alleged that Minister of Home Affairs Hassan Afeef ordered Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh to withdraw police officers who had been stationed on the site. The Commissioner sent two officers to assess the situation, who reported back stating that the situation had deteriorated, which the Commissioner relayed to the Minister.

The Minister repeated the order but the Commissioner of Police refused to comply, stating that the situation could get worse if the police withdrew their forces.

According to the report, after the commissioner refused, President Nasheed himself called the commissioner and ordered him to withdraw police from the scene.

Faseeh then reportedly sent the Deputy Commissioner of Police to assess the situation, and he too relayed the situation was worsening.

The report claimed that the president called the commissioner a second time and ordered him to withdraw police from the area, stating that he “could not trust the police”.

After this order, the report said that the commissioner personally took the decision to contact the Male’ Area Commander of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), asking that the MNDF intervene as the police were withdrawing.

The statement read that the tactical officer of the SO opposed the idea of withdrawing police from the area, stating that both the protesting parties had weapons that could be used for violence, including wooden sticks and metal rods.

The SO police present in the area refused to withdraw without the MNDF arriving to take over their position, the timeline claimed.

The panel also claimed that a resignation letter was drafted by the police commissioner and was left on his table, as “the commissioner did not believe that the withdrawal of the police was the right decision.”

After the MNDF took over the area, the panel claimed that President Nasheed called the Male’ area commander and ordered him to withdraw MNDF officers from the area, giving him assurances that the MDP supporters would not resort to any kind of violence.

However, the statement read that when MNDF withdrew their officers from the area, violent confrontations began and there “bottles and objects” thrown by both protesting parties, which led the MNDF to intervene again.

February 7

The statement claimed that some of the SO police officers who had been in the Artifical Beach area then went to the MDP protest camp and vandalised the premises, and attacked some of the MDP supporters inside.

An MNDF SWAT team arrived after the SO police officers left premises, “to guard the area”, the panel stated.

The statement read that, as the usual routine of the police is to fall in at the Republican Square after protests ended; the police officers retreated and convened to the area.

The panel said that initially the MNDF attempted to arrest the police officers who by then had begun to gather in Republic Square, adjacent to police and military headquarters. However the MNDF reportedly decided to negotiate with the police officers as the military was outnumbered and police had similar equipment to the MNDF officers.

According to the report, police told the MNDF officers who were sent to negotiate with them that would begin following orders again after they were given assurances that they would not be ordered to carry out any unlawful orders, and that no action be taken against any of the officers regarding their involvement.

“The MNDF officers assured them that the MNDF would not confront police officers in the area,” the panel claimed.

During the negotiations, the panel claimed that police requested to meet the commissioner of police. The MNDF officials proposed officers go into the MNDF headquarters to to meet the commissioner, but police said they wanted to meet the commissioner inside police headquarters.

It was decided that the commissioner would meet meet in Iskandhar Koshi, an MNDF barracks on the other side of Male’, to the police officers initially agreed. However, police rejected the idea after the MNDF insisted the police go without their weapons and riot gear.

President’s arrival to Republic Square and his resignation

The panel claimed that in the early morning of February 7, between 5:00am to 6:00am, President Nasheed informed the commissioner that he wanted to meet the police officers who were at Republican Square.

It further claimed that the President also ordered the commissioner to meet the police officers in Republic Square, however the commissioner left military headquarters and entered police headquarters without meeting police gathered outside the building.

Before meeting the police, Nasheed asked one of the MNDF commanders whether he had any reservations over arresting the protesting police officers, to which the commander reportedly replied that he did.

The President then reportedly told the commander that it would be better if he stayed at home for the time being, however two other commanders also told the President that they had reservations and left.

The panel claimed that Nasheed then told the police officers that they had “done something wrong” and requested they hand themselves over to the MNDF. Police refused the order.

According the panel, Nasheed then returned to military headquarters and ordered the MNDF officers inside the barracks to go outside and arrest the officers who had disobeyed him.

At this point, some of the MNDF officers left the barracks and joined the police officers protesting.

While Nasheed was inside the MNDF base, the panel claimed that the President’s secretariat informed cabinet members that there would be a cabinet meeting, but failed to inform Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan as two key staff of the VP’s secretariat had not reported to work.

The panel also claimed that the then-President of the MDP, Dr Ibrahim Didi, called Nasheed and discussed how to resolve the ongoing unrest. Nasheed reportedly asked for Didi’s help in releasing a joint statement by the president and leaders of the opposition parties.

It said that Didi had then contacted opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader, Abdulla Yameen, however both of them declined to help unless Nasheed personally requested they do so.

Dr Didi then informed Nasheed of this response, who told him to make a decision after discussing the matter with MDP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former Chairperson of the Party, MP Mariya Ahmed Didi.

The panel alleged that Dr Didi tried contacting MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, who did not respond, and then contacted MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who said he would get back to Dr Didi after consulting on the issue with Nasheed.

After the reply from MP Solih was delayed, Didi reportedly called Nasheed back, and was told that the High Commissioner of India, Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, would contact him.

According to the panel, Mulay contacted Dr Didi and asked him to come to the High Commission. When Dr Didi arrived to the High Commission, the opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group leader Yameen was already there.

According to the panel, as Dr Didi, Mulay and Yameen were discussing how to resolve the crisis, MP Solih called Yameen and informed him that Nasheed was going to resign.

Didi then reportedly contacted Nasheed and asked to him to give the phone to Yameen.

According to the panel, Nasheed informed Yameen that he was going to resign and asked him to ensure the safety of his family, to which Yameen replied that he would do everything to ensure the safety of Nasheed’s family.

The meeting adjourned after the president informed them that he would resign.

New MNDF commander

Meanwhile, according to the panel, two civilians: resigned police officer Abdulla Riyaz (the new Police Commissioner) and dismissed MNDF officer Ahmed Nazim (now the Defence Minister), entered the MNDF headquarters reportedly on the invitation of the Minister of Defence and National Security, Tholath Ibrahim.

After discussions with Nasheed in the MNDF barracks, Nazim came out to the crowd and revealed that he had asked Nasheed to resign unconditionally before 1:30pm that afternoon, along with the commissioner of police and his deputies.

According to the panel, Nazim told the crowd that his demands were “non-negotiable”.

The protesters were then informed that Nasheed would resign, and would announce this in the President’s Office.

According to the panel, Nasheed wrote the resignation letter inside the President’s Office, and then announced it on state television – which by this stage had been stormed by a second group of police and protesters.

CNI statement “lacks legitimacy

The MDP – now in opposition – said it would not formally comment on the statement prior to the release of an official statement.

However, an MDP official told Minivan News that the party did not consider the timeline “substantial”, and said it “lacked legitimacy”.

The party was “not even interested” in the timeline because the investigation would start from scratch under the new composition.

”The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has asked the government to change the composition of the commission and the government has agreed to it. I think the current co-chair of the commission thinks that his work is over,” the party official said.

The premature release of the timeline “for public comment” was “not a good thing”, he added.

The CNI claimed that if anyone wished to propose amendments to the timeline, they should submit amendments before June 21.