Civil Court declares former police intelligence director’s arrest unlawful

The Civil Court has declared the Maldives Police Services’ arrest of former Director of Police Intelligence Sabra Noordeen on 16 March 2013 unlawful, unwarranted, and an ‘abuse of power’.

The court has also ordered the police to erase the record of the arrest and to issue a written apology.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Sabra said she had filed the case “because I wanted to set a legal precedent which would make the Police think about the wider rights and responsibilities they have to uphold before they exercise their powers.”

The police arrested Sabra upon her arrival at Malé International Airport on 16 March 2013 on the charge of “inciting violence” against a police officer on 5 March 2013 during the arrest of President Mohamed Nasheed. The police also confiscated her passport.

She was then handcuffed in order to be transferred to Dhoonidhoo prison. However, the police took her to Malé instead, and released her after issuing a summons to appear at the police station at a later date for questioning.

Sabra first appealed the Criminal Court warrant at the High Court and asked for compensation for damages. In August 2013, the High Court ruled the warrant valid, but said that Sabra should seek compensation at the Civil Court.

In yesterday’s verdict, the Civil Court noted the Criminal Court had not ordered the police to arrest Sabra, but had provided a warrant authorising her arrest upon the police’s request.

The court said she could only be arrested under such a warrant if there was “a necessity for her arrest”,  and if such a necessity ceases to exist, she should not be arrested “even if the warrant has not expired”.

The Civil Court noted that the High Court judges had deemed Sabra’s quick release on the day of her arrest to have been an indication of the lack of necessity for her arrest.

The Civil Court has also warned that the police’s abuse of power defeats the purpose for which the institution was founded, and would create doubt and fear about the the institution.

The verdict declared that Sabra’s arrest violated her right to protect her reputation and good name as guaranteed by Article 33 of the constitution, and the right to fair administrative action guaranteed by Article 43. The court also found that the police had acted against their primary objectives underlined in Article 244.

Following her arrest in March 2013, Sabra called for police reform in order for the institution to regain public confidence – including the dissolution of Special Operations unit and holding police officers accountable for misconduct and brutality.

“I quit the Maldives Police Service on 8 February 2012 with a profound sense of sadness for the institution and the colleagues I left behind. I do not believe that everyone in the MPS was involved in the mutiny or the coup and I do not believe in blaming everyone in a police uniform,” she wrote in an article detailing the events of her arrest.

Previously, the Criminal Court had declared the police’s arrest of incumbent Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and the arrest of Ghassaan Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as unlawful.

In 2010, the Civil Court also declared the Maldives National Defense Force’s “protective custody” of current President Abdulla Yameen as unconstitutional, while the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of both Yameen and Gasim Ibrahim (both members of parliament at the time).

Accusations of brutality and misconduct by MPS officers are common and have been confirmed by various independent state institutions. Among them are the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) that looked in to the controversial power transfer of February 2012 and two constitutionally prescribed independent institutions – the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and the Police Integrity Commission.


Police deny arresting MNDF Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam: “Just questions”

Police last night summoned Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam for questioning, shortly before President Waheed announced his decision to remain in power until November 16.

A poilce spokesperson told Minivan News that Nilam was not arrested and was only brought in for questioning over an ongoing investigation.

He denied reports on social media that Nilam had been taken to Dhoonidhoo police custodial.

He also said that police would not like to disclose further information about the investigation and declined to say what it investigation was about.

According to police, Nilam was released after a few questions.

Brigadier General Nilam was suspended from military services in January this year and the MNDF has not told the media why he was suspended.

Local media reports have suggested the sudden decision to detain him last night was related to his comments to a parliamentary committee regarding the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

In his testimony to the Government Oversight Committee on January 9, 2012, Brigadier General Nilam said he was asked by Defence Minister Nazim if he believed that the transfer of power amounted to a coup or a revolution.

Nilam said he replied that, “looking at it academically, this has all the characteristics of a coup.”

“I have even looked into this and studied this along principles that academicians would consider. So I told [Nazim] that this has all the characteristics. He didn’t say anything else,” Nilam said.

Nilam was among the few MNDF high ranking officers that did not join the then-opposition parties during the events of February 7, 2012.

MNDF officers have circulated an appeal calling on their fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by President Waheed or his political appointees, following the expiry of his presidential term at midnight on November 10.

The five-page document, signed by 73 officers including many mid-ranking officers, is titled “An appeal to soldiers to maintain their oath to be professional and apolitical.”


Translation: MNDF officers’ ‘letter of concern’

The following is a translation of a leaked “letter of concern” circulating on social media, submitted by senior officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to Chief of Defence Force Major-General Ali Shiyam on September 28. Following the release of the letter the MNDF amended its regulations to punish officers who promoted “upheaval and chaos”. Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal was subsequently removed from his position as the Commandant of Training and Doctrine,while First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef (Marine Corp), Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed and Lance Corporal Sharhaab Rashid were dismissed from service. First Lieutenant Mohamed Haleem resigned, stating “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.”

To Chief of Defence Force Major General Ali Shiyam:

Whereas Article 236 in Chapter 9 of the Republic of Maldives’ Constitution states the Maldivian security services, consisting of the Military Service and the Police Service, is established to enable all persons in the Maldives to live in peace, security and freedom,

Whereas Article 237 states the security services shall protect the nation’s sovereignty, maintain its territorial integrity defend the constitution and democratic institutions, maintain and enforce law and order, and render assistance in emergencies,

And whereas Article 238 states that the actions of the security services must be exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and operate on the basis of accountability,

And whereas Article 111 states that if no candidate wins by over fifty percent of the votes in a presidential election, a run-off election must be held within twenty one days of the first election,

And whereas Article 142 states judges must comply with the constitution and the law,

On 7 September 2013, a presidential election was held as per Article 110 of the Constitution. The Elections Commission announced a second round of election on 28 September 2013 as per Article 111 of the constitution.

According to Article 111 of the constitution, a second round of election must be held within 21 days after the first election, and that date is 28 September 2013. We believe, given Article 8 of the Constitution states that the powers of the state shall be exercised in accordance with the constitution, and as 28 September 2013 is the last date on which the second round of the presidential elections can be held, the Supreme Court order to delay the election is one that creates dangers for the nation and its citizens and creates challenges from a national security point of view, and may impede the military from carrying out is constitutionally mandated duties.

As per Article 237 the security forces are mandated with defending democratic institutions, and maintaining and enforcing law and order.

Given the shifting national security atmosphere in the country, and as the Maldivian state’s independent institutions and the international community are repeatedly calling for all parties to respect the constitution, we believe any military act that violates constitutional rules and democratic norms, will destroy the sovereign state established in the Maldives, destroy law and order in the country, and allow for a military state to be established in the Maldives.

This is due to influential actors who may abuse the turmoil and constitutional void following the delay in presidential elections. We are concerned that the chain of command established in the military as per the laws will be lost, and will allow for the military to be used as a tool to hand over administration of the state to a certain group of people.

Article 245 states that no one is allowed to issue an illegal order to a member of the security services and that members of the security services should not obey such an order. Hence, due to orders issued in the above mentioned situation, this institution [military] may fall into a deep pit, and we fear that subordinate commanders and lower ranks may be legally locked into a dark cell and may be criminally charged at a later date.

Hence, we express grave concern, and appeal for this institution not to be propelled into a deep pit, and state that we will steadfastly remain with good military behavior and good order against any illegal order.

28 September 2013


Brigadier General Shamal
Colonel Abdul Raheem
Brigadier General Ahmed Jihad
Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam
Colonel Hamid Shareef
Lt. Colonel Nasrulla Majdhee
Captain Abdul Muizz
Lt. Colonel Ibrahim Hilmee
Sergeant Major Hassan Fawaz
Sergeant Major Naushad Ali
First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef
First Lieutenant Mutholib [unclear]
Sergeant Major [first name unclear] Vaseem
[name unclear]
[name unclear]
Captain Hassan Amir


Comment: Maldives at the crossroads – Not just another day in paradise

This article first appeared on DhivehiSitee’s Election 2013 hub. Republished with permission.

From sky level to sea level, looking through the thickly paned and weathered openings of a rumbling fuselage, vivid colors zoom into focus around tiny islands loosely connected by a vibrant underworld of coral reef. An awe-inspiring sight. Yet lately, not even the mesmerizing beauty of this far-away island chain can mask the recent and unsightly chain of events that has left democracy stranded in the rising waters of political turmoil. Despite its small size, the Maldives is one of those places that have huge significance in terms of social justice (think Iceland, Cuba, Denmark, Bolivia). The 2012 coup there, now eighteen months long, gives us reason to reflect.

Here’s what happened in the Maldives and why we think it needs attention.

February 6-8, 2012 – Democratically-elected President Mohamed Nasheed delivers a sudden and unexpected resignation on live television.
August 30, 2012 – The British Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CONI) investigation surprises the world by finding the transfer of power from Nasheed to his vice president Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik to have been legal.
September 7, 2013 – Presidential elections will take place, with both Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Waheed, running as an independent, on the ballot.

Coups are among the ugliest of political phenomena, perhaps surpassed only by war, genocide, and famine. They closely parallel fraudulent elections in that both witness an assault on the rights of voters and the well-being of a nation by the powerful few. The upcoming elections in the Maldives have global significance, not just because of their contrast with the bloody aftermath of the July 3 deposing of Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi in another Muslim society, but because – until his ouster – Nasheed and his administration were inspirational leaders in the global fight against climate change, lionized by young climate activists at a 2009 rally in Copenhagen with a banner addressed to Nasheed himself reading “You Are Our Global President.”

History counts: The Road to Democracy or Authoritarian Reversal?
In order to understand the recent assault on democracy in the Maldives it helps to know a little history. The country’s nascent democracy emerged from 850 years of rule by a Muslim sultanate overlaid, from 1887 to 1965, by British Protectorate status and then an uneasy transition from a constitutional monarchy to an independent republic in 1968. Of the many political struggles that have rattled the Maldives, one in particular stands out in relation to recent events: the rise and fall of the country’s first president in the early 1950s.

The story of President Ameen Didi’s year-long rule is worth briefly recounting, not only because it ended in the first Maldivian coup, but because it highlights the contested nature of economic and cultural modernization in the country. In the years leading up to 1953, change was brewing in the small island country. As a school principal and heir to the sultanate, Ameen Didi established the Maldives’ first political party, the Peoples’ Progressive Party, declaring education for women one of his main goals. When he was offered the sultanate, he stood up in Parliament and said “for the sake of the people of Maldives I would not accept the crown and the throne” ). After a referendum declared Maldives a republic, the people elected him president on January 1, 1953. He then set out to transform the nation, enacting policies that radically altered the social and political landscape. Taken by the grand boulevards of Paris, Ameen had his engineers cut roads through the center of the inhabited islands, literally paving the way for development (and upsetting the inhabitants).

On August 21, 1953 (coincidentally, just two days after the CIA-engineered coup in Iran), then-Vice President Velaanaagey Ibrahim Didi staged a coup against the president while he was abroad in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for medical treatment. Ibrahim Didi took over with the help of Muslim conservatives in Malé, the capital city. When the unsuspecting Ameen Didi returned to the Maldives he was taken to Dhoonidhoo Prison Island. He escaped but failed to take back power in Malé, and was beaten so severely he nearly died. The coup makers banished him to internal exile in Kaafu Atoll, where his health quickly deteriorated. He died on January 19, 1954.

Fast-forward to the present day. The events leading to President Nasheed’s overthrow in 2012, while very different, unfold in the same political context of entrenched power and resistance to democratic modernization. Existing networks of powerbrokers put the legitimacy of his administration under scrutiny because he was viewed as progressive and posed a challenge to a social order shaped by centuries of sultanate rule and decades of dictatorship in the intervening years under Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who held power from 1978 to 2008. Gayoom styled himself president, head of the judiciary, and highest religious authority in the country, “winning” six elections in a row for the Maldivian People’s Party without an opposition candidate. As The Economist colorfully puts it: “For three decades until 2008 the country was run by Mr Gayoom, an autocratic moderniser who made the Maldives the wealthiest corner of South Asia by promoting high-end bikini-and-booze tourism (usually on atolls some distance away from the solidly Muslim local population). He also crushed dissent, let capricious and poorly educated judges make a mockery of the law, and allowed social problems to fester, notably widespread heroin addiction”.

After a series of imprisonments totaling six years (with eighteen months of solitary confinement and other tortures) for protesting the lack of democracy, journalist Mohamed Nasheed returned from exile to win the 2008 elections – the first fair and free direct elections in the history of the Maldives. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted the stakes: “Maldives will increasingly have a special role to play in the region and the Muslim world as it has pioneered a democratisation process that is both modern and Islamic…. This opportunity cannot be missed, for the benefit of Maldives and of the wider region”. Nasheed made good on the promise, delivering free healthcare, pensions for the elderly, social housing, improved transportation among the islands, and civil liberties such as freedom of expression and security of one’s person unheard of in the Maldivian context.

It is interesting to note that in Dhivehi, the native language of the Maldives, there is no word for democracy. It wasn’t until 2008, when Nasheed was running for president as candidate of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), that a Dhivehi equivalent for the term came into use. Nasheed ran with the slogan “Aneh Dhivehi Raaje” which translates into “The Other Maldives.” In the Maldivian language, the phrase is often used synonymously with of the English-language term “democracy.” If Nasheed reminds us of another political prisoner turned president, Nelson Mandela, the Maldivian equivalent to the scourge of apartheid would probably be the inexorably rising levels of the oceans. With 1,192 coral islands arrayed in a double chain of 26 atolls, the highest point in the Maldives is 2.4 meters above sea level – it is the lowest-lying country in the world, eighty percent of the land surface lying less than a meter above the ocean waves.

In October 2009, Nasheed grabbed the world’s attention by holding a cabinet meeting underwater, with ministers in scuba gear sitting at a table signing documents calling on all countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions: “We must unite in a world war effort to halt further temperature rises. Climate change is happening and it threatens the rights and security of everyone on Earth. We have to have a better deal. We should be able to come out with an amicable understanding that everyone survives. If Maldives can’t be saved today, we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world” At the historic 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, he declared Maldives’ goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country: “For us swearing off fossil fuels is not only the right thing to do, it is in our economic self-interest… Pioneering countries will free themselves from the unpredictable price of foreign oil; they will capitalize on the new green economy of the future, and they will enhance their moral standing giving them greater political influence on the world stage”. At the talks, he and minister of environment Mohamed Aslam carried the banner of the many frontline island nations most threatened by climate change, and their principled stand and frank exchanges stand at the center of Jon Shenk’s masterful 2012 film, The Island President.

The world’s climate justice and global justice communities woke on the morning of February 7, 2012 to the shocking news that Nasheed had “resigned” his presidency with the statement “I don’t want to rule the country with an iron fist…. Considering the situation in the country, I believe great damage might be caused to the people and the country if I remain President. I therefore submit my resignation as President of Maldives”. Within hours, scenes of Nasheed and MDP supporters in the streets of Malé protesting what they called a coup, and being beaten and arrested by the police and military, now firmly in the hands of his vice president, Mohamed Waheed, gave the world notice that the coup leaders had no such compunction. Waheed proceeded to dismiss the entire cabinet, named a who’s who of Nasheed’s political opponents to his own cabinet, and sought to put Nasheed on trial.

Support for the struggle against Nasheed’s departure was quickly voiced by the global climate justice community. Mark Lynas, author of ‘Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet’, wrote in the Guardian: “The deposed president is famous for his efforts to fight climate change, but his lifelong struggle has been for democracy – and now I fear for his safety” (February 7, 2012). Filmmaker Jon Shenk told the New York Times: “On Tuesday, we were stunned to learn that Mr. Nasheed was forced to resign his presidency under duress. Mr. Gayoom’s supporters had taken violently to the streets and put Mr. Nasheed in an impossible position: attack your own countrymen or resign. He once again followed his conscience and stepped down” (February 8, 2012).

The CONI Report: Judging the Legality of a Coup
The pushback in the streets and global airwaves forced the new government to announce on February 22 the formation of a commission to investigate whether the transfer of power had been legal. When in April it named the three-person group in charge, chaired by Gayoom’s former Defence Minister, Ismail Shafeeu, the transparent hypocrisy of a government investigating itself prompted the Commonwealth (Maldives joined in 1982) to pressure for the addition of more independent experts to the commission. This resulted in the addition of Ahmad Saeed to represent the MDP, and two international advisers, Professor John Packer from Canada for the United Nations, and Sir Bruce Robertson, a retired Court of Appeal judge from New Zealand, for the Commonwealth.

The climate justice world was shocked again on August 30, 2012, when the resulting CONI Report was finally issued, its conclusions stating:

  • The change of president in the Republic of Maldives on 7 February 2012 was legal and constitutional.
  • The events that occurred on 6 and 7 February 2012, were, in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed.
  • The resignation of President Nasheed was voluntary and of his own free will. It was not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation.
  • There were acts of police brutality on 6, 7 and 8 February 2012 that must be investigated and pursued further by the relevant authorities.

Of these “findings,” we find the only true statement to be the last, and the called-for investigation has not taken place, despite repeated requests from the UN, Commonwealth, and Amnesty International.

The day before the report was issued, MDP representative Ahmed Saeed resigned in protest, alleging that it was based primarily on evidence gathered only by the three original members, while other crucial evidence was not pursued nor key witnesses recalled, and that some of the information and testimony provided the commission was not used in the inquiry. The Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma accepted the report’s conclusions on the spot, stating “I urge all concerned to respect the findings of the Commission so that, moving forward, all actions and reactions reflect the sense of responsibility and restraint necessary in the best national interest”. The United States and Britain welcomed the report, which received the tacit support of much of the international community, and recommended that Nasheed and the MDP turn the corner on the coup and look ahead to the 2013 elections (just days away as we write this).

International advisors to the CONI, John Packer and Sir Bruce Robertson, praised the commission’s work: “We have seen nothing but objective and independent professionalism in the institution. The Commission has sensibly and sensitively heard all who wanted to make a contribution. It has firmly and fairly held participants to telling what they had heard and seen for themselves and deflected them from conjecture and speculation without facts.” In a pointed reference to Saeed’s resignation from the Commission, they stated: “The nation has been well served by the Commissioners and any assertions of bias or lack of objectivity leveled against those remaining have no justification. They reflect badly on those making unfounded allegations”. One wonders what impact Waheed’s long career with the UN might have made on the perceptions of events by international outsiders.

The day after the report came out, Nasheed held a press conference, and observed: “Now we have a very awkward situation and in many ways very comical, where toppling a government by brutal force is taken as a reasonable course of action … accepted as long as it comes with an ‘appropriate’ narrative. I still believe CONI has set a precedent away from the simplicity of using ballots to change a government…. Peaceful political activity will continue, the CONI report is not the end of the line”.

We have had access to some of the above missing pieces, including MDP perspectives and several of the interviews conducted for the report. In addition, former minister of environment Mohamed Aslam generously consented to an interview when one of us visited the Maldives in May. We want to make the world aware of the fatal flaws in the report, and of the very real threats the Waheed government and other opponents of Nasheed pose to fair and creditable elections on September 7. Here are our findings.

We start with two independent legal evaluations of the CONI Report, both of which unequivocally find the report deficient. The first of these, “A Legal Review of the Report of the Commission of National Inquiry (CONI) Maldives,” was issued on September 6, 2012 by Ms. Anita Perera and Mr. Senany Dayaratne, lawyers working with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, and Mr. Shibley Aziz, a former Attorney General of Sri Lanka. This document clearly rejects the CONI Report for its reliance on “evidence hastily gathered” while disregarding “[m]aterial and evidence of vital significance.” It concludes “there was in fact adequate evidence to suggest that duress (or even ‘coercion’ and/ or illegal coercion as used by CONI) is attributable to the resignation of President Nasheed, and as such, CONI could not have reasonably satisfied itself on objective criteria, that the specific pre-conditions necessary for a determination that President Nasheed resigned of his own free will, have been met”.

A second independent report considers the events in light of international law, and is based on facts independently gathered on a field trip to the Maldives. Issued on July 16, 2012, before the CONI Report, its title presages its main findings, “Arrested Democracy: The Legality under International Law of the 2012 transfer of power in the Maldives and alleged human rights violations perpetrated by Maldivian security forces.” Its authors, Dr. Anders Henriksen, Associate Professor of Public International Law at the University of Copenhagen, Legal Adviser and Deputy Head of Division at Danish Ministry of Justice Rasmus Kieffer-Kristensen, and Jonas Parello-Plesner, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, conclude that:

  • President Nasheed resigned as President of the Maldives under duress, and that his resignation cannot be considered voluntary or otherwise ‘in accordance with law’.
  • The revolt of the Maldivian Police and the seemingly unwillingness or inability of the Maldivian Military to restore law and order left the President with no choice but to accept the demand for his resignation that was put before him in mid-morning on February 7th, 2012. To the extent that a ‘coup d’etat’ can be defined as the ‘illegitimate overthrow of a government’, we must therefore also consider the events as a coup d’etat.
  • The Maldivian security forces have committed a number of human rights violations in the months that have passed since the transfer of power…. The acts of the security forces have had a “chilling effect” on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in the Maldives.

The CONI Report was fatally flawed from the start, pace Professor Packer and Sir Bruce, with the appointment of a commission consisting of three Gayoom loyalists. Two of them – the chair, Ismail Shafeeu (Gayoom’s former Defence Minister), and Dr. Ibrahim Yasir – were allegedly involved in hiding parts of the investigation report of 2003 Maafusi Jail shootings, an extremely important event in Maldivian history. The additions to the committee spurred on by condemnation of its biased composition did not overcome this bias: Justice G.P. Selvam of Singapore, who became co-chair of the CONI report with Shafeeu, rose through the ranks under the Lew Kwan Yew dictatorship, doing what the regime required against its political opponents and human rights campaigners. There are a number of Singapore-Maldives business partnerships involving Waheed’s current vice president, Mohamed Waheed Deen, and Maumoon’s former Foreign Minister, Fathuhulla Jameel with wealthy interests in Singapore. Also, it has been suggested that millions of dollars that were stolen from the Maldives by the Gayoom brothers, Maumoon and Yameen, and invested in Singapore.

Anatomy of a Coup, or, the Charging Bull at the Door
Coups don’t happen without a well-planned coterie of opponents of the government, a pretext and public perception that something has discredited the government, and the backing of the social forces that hold the means of violence. This scenario obtained in the cases of the tragic end of Chilean democracy on September 11, 1971, the July 2013 removal of President Morsi in Egypt, and the events of February 6-7, 2012 in the Maldives.

The political and economic allies of the long-running Gayoom dictatorship never accepted the results of the 2008 election, and through the whole of Nasheed’s tenure waged a dirty campaign to regain power. Imagine a United States in which the Green Party came to power through a well-executed grassroots campaign inspired by hope – real hope – that the ills of American society and politics could be frankly addressed. Then imagine what might happen in the following eighteen months – it would be money and violence against people power and openness. It would get nasty. This gives some idea of what Nasheed and the MDP were up against when they came to power in 2008.

To establish the full context of the events would require a detailed and lengthy analysis of the struggle for power between Nasheed and the political remnants of the Gayoom dictatorship, marked by a series of circumstances that include the consequences of the failure of the Judicial Service Commission, appointed after the 2008 elections, to set new standards for service as a judge, and the subsequent removal of pro-Gayoom Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, Judge Abdulla Mohamed, by Nasheed on January 16, 2012 (the judge had repeatedly failed to prosecute corruption cases against the elite, including Gayoom himself). The backlash to this from the pro-Gayoom parties and individuals took the form of a campaign to slander Nasheed as un- or even anti-Islamic. This touched off twenty-two consecutive nights of anti-Nasheed protests. A secret meeting of members of the opposition took place on January 31, 2012 at the residence of Nasheed’s Vice President Waheed at which they pledged their allegiance to him “and stated that President Nasheed was no longer considered ‘the legal ruler of Maldives’. In a quite extraordinary move, one of the leading opposition figures even called on the police and the army to also pledge their allegiance to the Vice-President ‘and not to implement any order given by’ the President”. Events moved very quickly after this.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the competing artistic representations of the transfer of power could fill volumes. In August 2012, the government-backed Islamist Adhaalath Party organized an exhibition at the National Art Gallery, opened by President Waheed himself. Sixty pieces were displayed under the theme, “Fall of a regime: An Artist’s View,” all created by a single artist and painted over the course of just one month. Some of the paintings were direct copies of photographs with MDP colors and supporters omitted. This attempt to paint the “appropriate narrative,” as Nasheed had characterized the CONI report – literally mirroring the “timeline” of events released by original members of the CONI commission before the investigation actually took place.

In all likelihood, the Waheed-sponsored paintings were commissioned in response to an earlier announcement by MDP supporters who were independently planning an Exhibition of Public Inquiry (XOPI) at the grounds of the Malé City Council. The theme of this exhibit, “Truth Is Ours,” challenged the CONI narrative by giving space to a wide range of artists to reflect on the events leading up to and following the coup. One artist, Fazail Lutfi, explained: “I am participating because this is another venue to express my thoughts and feelings about the coup, freedom, liberty and justice. At a time when our freedoms to assemble and express are getting limited, this space suddenly becomes very important to me”. In contrast with the repetitive images of “peaceful” anti-Nasheed protests set against the whitewashed walls of the National Art Gallery, an ominous sculpture lingered at the XOPI grounds. The description reads: “Grasping to comprehend the reality of the situation and describe something so phantom and menacing in my head was the image of a charging bull at the door.”

The charging bull reared its ugly head again when charges were pursued against Nasheed for the alleged unconstitutional arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed under Article 81 of the Penal Code, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. If found guilty, Nasheed would have been banned from the upcoming elections that are now set for September 7, 2013, as well as any future elections in the Maldives. Both MDP supporters and the international community deemed the allegations politically motivated and an obvious attempt to prevent Nasheed from contesting the presidential elections. On March 28, 2013, Azim Zahir, from Transparency Maldives – a local NGO monitoring the elections – warned: “As was seen following the recent arrest of President Nasheed [on October 8, 2012], if he is prevented from running, violence will likely break out distorting the electoral environment if not making it inhospitable for democratic elections”. In a May 21, 2013 report, UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul expressed “deep concern” over the impartiality of the judiciary and the fairness of the proceedings against Nasheed.

On July 18, 2013, with mounting pressure from Transparency Maldives and the international community, the Elections Commission reluctantly accepted Nasheed’s candidacy. In a statement to the press, Nasheed said, “we have submitted the election forms and begin the task of restoring democracy to our country. It has been a slippery slope but we have come a long way. Despite all the barriers and hurdles that were put in our way, we never gave up.” As election day draws nearer, the streets of Malé city are paved with yellow confetti, the color of the MDP.

Maldives at the Crossroads
Maldives now stands at a crossroads where the people are being asked to choose between Nasheed, Waheed, and two other candidates with links to the Gayoom dictatorship and the Islamists – in effect a popular referendum on the CONI Report and the candidates’ competing visions for the future of the Maldives. Moreover, the whole process is unfolding in a “political context of crisis of legitimation, uncertainty of democratic transition, existing polarisations and other challenges that have been aggravated by the controversial transfer of power on 7 February 2012,” according to Transparency.

Nasheed’s campaign has been a model of grassroots organizing, literally a “Door to Door” campaign with a thousand volunteers committed to visiting every family in the country. Nasheed himself has touched all the main island groups in well-prepared meetings with the people, a detailed campaign platform, openness to the media, and by generating a massive amount of genuine passion and enthusiasm on the ground. The campaign reports that it has received pledges of votes from 125,000 of the 240,000 eligible voters in its door to door canvas, while registering thousands of new voters – the median age in the Maldives is 26 and the MDP’s campaign is by far the most media-savvy. “Statistics and the smiles of the people” portend victory, Nasheed says. All of this bodes well.

While the MDP has campaigned hard to secure the votes necessary to win in the first round, there are several factors to consider that could mitigate this outpouring of public support.

  1. The MDP will have to win in the first round for Nasheed to be successful. The anti-Nasheed vote will be split among the three opposition candidates – Waheed, billionaire Gasim Ibrahim of the Jumhoree [Republic] Party, and Gayoom’s brother Abdulla Yameen for the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) — an advantage for the MDP. But if Nasheed fails to clear the 50 percent hurdle, it is probable that all three would ask their supporters to vote for the one still in the running on the second round, scheduled for September 28.
  2. There is a danger that “irregularities” could occur in the election process. Leaving aside Gasim’s promises of an iPad and laptop for every schoolchild and other material goods for every family if he is elected, and the PPM’s unsuccessful effort to delay the election by claiming, without a hint of irony, that it is not free and fair process, there remain the unreformed institutions staffed by loyalists in the old regime or the current administration who will police, conduct, and investigate allegations of impropriety. Due to what appears to be sufficient attention from the United Nations, United Kingdom, European Union, and other observers, and the local efforts by Transparency Maldives, however, these elections seem set to be the most transparent yet.
  3. The various dirty tricks of the opposition, which include attacking the MDP manifesto promise that the state will make a revenue of MVR 72 billion [US$4.6 billion] through the tax system as a set of empty promises (another irony in that the other three parties have failed altogether to put forth campaign platforms). The PPM has criticized Nasheed in the past for taking out international loans and competing political parties rally around the claim that Nasheed ran the Maldivian economy into the ground. There also remain the self-serving appeals to voters regarding Nasheed’s alleged lack of respect for Islam compared with the faith of his opponents.

The stakes are high. This may be Maldivians’ last chance to set out on the path of democracy again. In Chile, the Pinochet dictatorship traumatized a whole generation after the coup that brought him to power. This must not happen in the Maldives. Not only is the future of its people at stake, but the possibilities for a future of global climate justice will be affected by the outcome of this election and the parliamentary elections of 2014.

If Nasheed and Aslam represent the Maldives once again at COP19 UN climate summit in Warsaw this November, the balance of forces now tilted so heavily toward the 1%, and thus to the climate catastrophe dictated by their business as usual attitude, will shift—at least to some degree—back in the direction dictated by science and championed by 99.99 percent. All eyes should be on the Maldives on September 7. Let us not be caught unaware of what’s happening at this epicenter of the struggle for a better world.

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]


Parties to leaked “coup agreement” dismiss document’s authenticity

Read an English translation of the document

Download the original document in Dhivehi

Vice President of the Civil Alliance coalition of NGOs, Abdulla Mohamed, has claimed that a leaked document allegedly signed by all then-opposition political parties to commit to toppling former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government is not authentic, and that the signatures of party representatives are forged.

The document, apparently signed and sealed by the parties and the Civil Alliance, purports to be  blueprint of a plot to overthrow the government, forcing former President Nasheed to resign, and have the Supreme Court order him to remain away from politics for the rest of his life.

The document is dated December 29, 2011 and features the signatures and seals resembling those of the then-opposition parties Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Jumhoree Party (JP), Dhivehi Rayythunge Party (DRP), People’s Alliance (PA) and the Civil Alliance.

The unauthenticated signatures appear to include those of PPM Vice President Umar Naseer, Islamic Minister Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed (on behalf of the AP), Leader of the DQP Dr Hassan Saeed, Leader of the JP Gasim Ibrahim, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim on behalf of the PA.

“This agreement, is an agreement agreed by friendly political groups, after having come to the belief that current President Mohamed Nasheed of Galolhu Kenereege should no longer be allowed to remain as the president of this country, to completely bar Nasheed from politics and to eradicate the existence of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who are being influenced by Christianity for the sake of the country’s future, for reasons that include: dishonoring the religion Islam and the laws of this country, openly promoting anti-Islamic mottos, refusing to enforce Islamic Sharia’, indulging in anti-Islamic activities, arbitrarily arresting political opponents, acting contempt of the courts of the law,” states the document’s introduction.

Abdulla Mohamed dismissed the document: “I swear by Allah, that I have never signed an agreement with any political parties both in my personal capacity and in my capacity as the Vice President of the Civil Alliance. Any agreement, had we made one, would have been live on television. I even have the minutes of meetings held with political parties and I will reveal them soon.”

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Gasim Ibrahim, Sheik Shaheem and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim have all denied the validity of the document to local media.

“I helped Waheed out of the mess”: Ahmed Faiz

Former Deputy CEO of Maldives Ports Limited Ahmed Faiz – who recently defected to the MDP following his arrest for allegedly attempting to blackmail Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed in a sex-tape scandal – told Minivan News that it would have been “really odd” for the parties to enter into such an agreement without his being a party to it.

Faiz did not dismiss the authenticity of the document, but suggested that GIP may have been deliberately sidelined from the agreement.

“When I looked into the document, one party was missing. President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s party Gaumee Ithithaadh Party (GIP) is missing in the document. I was the one representing the party at those meetings aimed at toppling Nasheed,” said Faiz.

Faiz said he presumed that omitting the GIP from the agreement was possibly due to tensions between Waheed – who was then Vice President – and the group of opposition political parties.

“Their spirit was quite odd. They were talking during the meetings too. Firstly, they planned to oust both Nasheed and Waheed. They had grudges against Waheed after he gave a press conference as Vice President calling for the suspension of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed. However I talked to the opposition parties and persuaded them to exclude Waheed from the plan,” Faiz explained.

Faiz also implied that Waheed had little role during the initial stages of ousting of Nasheed’s government, and contended that a televised press conference and early morning meeting between Waheed and opposition parties a week prior to Nasheed’s ousting had just been “showing off”.

During the press conference, DRP Vice President Ibrahim Shareef “asked the Vice President to save this nation. I would like to call upon the security forces [to accept that] since the Vice President is a person elected by Maldivians, and should the President be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President.”

Waheed was not present at the press conference. Faiz told Minivan News, “When the idea of ousting Waheed and Nasheed began floating, I went onto VTV and invited Waheed to join the anti-government protest that had been going on against Nasheed. He got really upset and we both even had a falling out.”

‘Plot’ to oust Nasheed

According to the document, the plot to topple Nasheed’s government was to start on February 24, 2012 – 17 days earlier than the day Nasheed was toppled – following a nation-wide Islamic symposium.

It proposed that Nasheed’s presidency be ended within 24 hours from commencement of the symposium, after giving the president a five hour ultimatum to resign unconditionally.

In late January 2012, 22 days of continuous anti-government protests led by then opposition figures and religious scholars following the controversial detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed escalated into a mutiny by certain elements within the police and the military.

By midday of February 7, 2012, then-President Nasheed had exhausted all his options to establish a chain of command within the ranks of police and military, and was left trapped inside the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) barracks surrounded by rebelling police and military forces along with an angry mob of demonstrators, who had been armed by the rebelling security services.

Within a short span of time, the current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim – who had been a civilian at the time – entered the military barracks and gave Nasheed an ultimatum to “resign or face the dire repercussions”. At the same time another group of demonstrators and rebelling security forces stormed and took control of the state broadcaster. Nasheed’s subsequent resignation at the President’s Office was aired on the swiftly re-branded Television Maldives.

Vice President Mohamed Waheed then ascended to power.

Mutiny and Vice President’s endorsement

The symposium, the document claimed, would escalate into a violent demonstration on the outskirts of Republic Square with three groups stationed at different locations.

Religious sheikhs affiliated with the movement would address the police barricading the area, and were to convince them that it was haram under Islam to obey the orders of President Nasheed in a bid to appeal for their support. Following the speeches of the religious sheikhs, politicians would take over the stage and then PPM Vice President Umar Naseer was to give the final speech.

By the end of his speech, a lieutenant colonel and a brigadier general from the MNDF would step aside from their duties and would appeal to the remaining military officers to disobey the orders of the president.

By this time, a platoon of Police’s Special Operations (SO) department would rebel against the police leadership and begin protests within Republic Square, creating a distraction that would allow more demonstrators to enter Republic Square and join the rebel police.

According to the document, by this time then Nasheed’s Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu – who according to the document had pledged supported to the movement – would go on to order the MNDF to arrest the protesting police live on state broadcaster MNBC One.

Using this opportunity, the organizers of the movement, by using opposition-aligned TV station DhiTV, would propagate rumors across the country that MNDF had begun brutalising the protesting police and appeal the other police officers to join the protests to help their colleagues.

The document claimed that Nasheed’s Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – the current president – had pledged his support for the movement and would take over the presidency as soon as the Supreme Court ruled that Nasheed had been incapacitated.

It also claimed that Waheed had agreed to form a national unity government with “friendly political groups”, and had agreed not to seek re-election at the conclusion of the presidential term.

Arrest of Nasheed and declaration of incapacity

By the time the demonstrations had escalated into a violent mob backed by police and military, the Special Protection Group (SPG) of the MNDF – tasked with protecting the president – would escort Nasheed to the presidential retreat of Aarah, in the name of giving him protection and security.

Shortly after Nasheed had been escorted to the island, an emergency court case would be filed at the Supreme Court requesting it to rule that Nasheed was incapable of remaining as the President, due to fear of violence and loss of the social harmony of the state as police and military were reluctant to follow his orders.

Then Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan would immediately take oath as the President as soon as the ruling was issued.  In an another ruling after Waheed assumed power, the Supreme Court would order the imprisonment of Nasheed and bar him from involvement in politics for the rest of his life.

According to the document, leader of the DQP and running mate of resort tycoon and JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim, Dr Hassan Saeed, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim were lobbying the Supreme Court bench to get its support.

The document also alleged that the PPM has had agreed to have current Attorney General Aishath Azima Shukoor try to convince Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain to support the petition.

After intense negotiations, the document claimed, a green signal had been given to the movement that the Supreme Court would issue the orders as requested by them.

New government

The document claimed that shortly after Waheed Hassan assumed power, the cabinet of President Nasheed would immediately be dismissed and a new cabinet would consisting of 10 members would be appointed including PPM Vice President Umar Naseer as the Home Minister and Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu reappointed as the Defense Minister.

Similarly, retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim was to be appointed as the Chief of Defence Force and Abdulla Riyaz appointed as the Commissioner of Police.

However, when the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan assumed power in February 7, 2012, the position of Home Minister was given to Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and the Defense Minister position was given to retired Colonel Nazim. Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam was appointed Chief of Defence Force while Abdulla Riyaz was appointed as the Commissioner of Police.

Dismantling and factionalising MDP

Following the change of government, the document claimed that it was highly important to divide, dismantle and factionalise the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), in a bid to weaken opposition to government.

“It has been agreed among all friendly political groups, that it is very important to influence and overtake the control of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the following actions have been commonly agreed to be carried out in order to dismantle the MDP’s leadership,” read the document.

The schemes to divide the MDP included backing then President of the Party, Dr Ibrahim Didi – whom the document described was politically weak and easily manipulated – while also supporting current Chairperson of MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, whom the document described as susceptible to blackmailed and threats against his business interests.

The document noted that Vice President of MDP MP Alhan Fahmy was the second biggest threat in the MDP as he had the potential to reorganise it in the absence of Nasheed.

The document claimed that the movement would work on promoting Dr Didi as party’s official presidential candidate, financed by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim.

In a bid to verify the authenticity of the document Minivan News tried contacting all parties mentioned in the document, but with the exception of Abdulla Mohamed from the Civil Alliance, no others were responding to calls at time of press.

Read an English translation of the document

Download the original document in Dhivehi


Translation: Leaked ‘coup agreement’

The following translation is of a document apparently signed and stamped by then opposition political parties on December 29, 2011, outlining a planned overthrow of the Nasheed government on February 24, 2012. Nasheed resigned amid a police-led mutiny on February 7, 2012.  Parties involved have rejected the document’s authenticity – read the full story here.

Download the original document in Dhivehi

1. Introduction

As the current President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge, has disrespected Islam as well as the country’s laws and regulations, declared blatantly anti-Islamic sentiments, obstructed the enforcement of Islamic hadd [punishments] in the Maldives, carried out laadheenee (irreligious or secular) actions, illegally arrested politicians, committed many acts that undermine the dignity of the country’s courts, and since the fraternal political groups have determined that he is unfit to remain as President of the Maldives, this agreement is made among the fraternal political groups to remove him completely from Maldivian politics and do what is required to completely erase the Christian-influenced Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from the Maldivian political arena.

2. The fraternal political groups

  1. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)
  2. Civil Alliance
  3. Adhaalath Party
  4. Jumhooree Party
  5. Dhivehi Qaumee Party
  6. Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DQP)
  7. People’s Alliance

3. Plan for the 24 February 2012 Symposium

3.1 Purpose of the symposium

The purpose of the symposium on 24 February 2012 is to make it a day of civil obedience across the Maldives with the aim of toppling the MDP government and establishing a national unity government formed among the fraternal political groups. And to overthrow the government within 24 hours of the beginning of the symposium.

As the fraternal political groups believe that it is important to carry this out in a way that would avoid foreign influence in Maldivian political affairs brought about because of the manner of changing the government, it has been agreed that this can be conducted most smoothly with the assistance of Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik. Therefore, the first order of business has to be worsening the relationship between MDP and the vice president, seeking the approval of senior figures of the vice president’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party and his close associates and bringing them into this.

The assurance needed from the vice president is that he will immediately assume the office of the presidency if Nasheed leaves the post under any circumstances, form a national unity government on the advice of the fraternal political groups, endure everything faced during this process, conduct the affairs of the nation until the presidential election in 2013, pave the way for the 2013 election, and not contest in the election in 2013.

The assurance that the fraternal political groups will give to the vice president will be to provide any and all assistance that he may require in this. And provide the assurance that he will remain in power until 11 November 2013.

3.2 How the government will be changed

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, 24 February 2012, a mass protest in the form of symposium will begin in all inhabited islands of the country. The protest will begin in Male’ at the tsunami memorial area. After the protest begins, a demand from the participants will be proposed to the government. The only demand of this protest will be for President Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge to resign without any conditions as he has insulted Islam and violated the laws of the country.

3.3.1 Going to Republic Square

The government will give a deaf ear to the demand for resignation. Therefore, after offering a five-hour period to comply with the demand, at 9 o’clock at night the participants of the protest will head towards the Republic Square divided into three groups. It has been agreed that protests will take place in all inhabited islands at this time.

The first group with Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will go past Kalhuthuhkala Koshi [military barracks near southwest harbour] on Boduthakurufaanu Magu and stop near MMA west of the Republic Square.

[Text missing]

The third group with PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will leave the tsunami memorial area in vehicles, go down Majeedhee Magu, turn near mercury to Orchid Magu and stop near Reefside at the intersection of Republic Square and Chandanee Magu.

Help will be received from former police and army officers to overcome obstacles posed by police and the army to the protesters reaching these areas. PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will coordinate this.

3.3.2 Showing stringency

After all the participants of the protest gather at the areas surrounding the Republic Square, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will address the police from the group near the MMA [building]. The Sheikh’s speech will mostly focus on Mohamed Nasheed’s laadheenee [irreligious or secular] ideology and convincing police and the army that obeying the commands of such a person with a laadheenee ideology is completely haram [forbidden] in Islam. The Sheikh along with different scholars will speak on this subject for 45 minutes.

After that, Abdulla Mohamed, representing the civil groups, and other civil society persons will give speeches.  Their speeches will mostly focus on stability in the Maldives, establishing justice and the economy under Nasheed’s rule. They will speak on this topic for 45 minutes.

After the speeches by the civil society persons, the first person to talk from among the politicians in the group gathered in front of Reefside will be PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer. Umar Naseer will begin his speech by calling on those in the front ranks of the government to join the protesters as President Mohamed Nasheed has not resigned by the time the period offered to him had elapsed. An opportunity will be offered to those in the front ranks of the police and army to either resign or step aside from their posts. The speeches will be interrupted for 30 minutes to provide an opportunity for these officers to do so.

It is not expected that cooperation will be forthcoming within 30 minutes from those working in the senior ranks of the police. However, a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel from the military has agreed to vacate their posts and refuse to carry out their responsibilities. This will be first announced via DhiTV. And a live interview with the resigned brigadier general will be brought on DhiTV. After this news, Umar Naseer’s speech will resume to raise the spirit of the protesters and divide the ranks of the police and the army. And he will call for the protesters to step forward and for the police and army to step back. The protesters will clash with police and attempt to enter the Republic Square by force.

3.3.3 Receiving the assistance of police

While the protesters face the police and army with severity, the special platoon of police on duty in front of MMA will abandon their command, enter the Republic Square and sit down in protest. At this time, some protesters will get an opportunity to enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that an MNDF [Maldives National Defence Force] backup will cordon off the area.

Complete assurance has been received from friendly police that this police platoon will be arranged to be on duty in front of MMA. The PPM deputy leader has met the officers of this platoon individually and briefed them on what they have to do. Their demands have now been taken care of.

Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan will announce on MNBC One that the striking or protesting police have disobeyed orders and that they will be arrested and taken inside Bandaara Koshi [main military headquarters in front of Republic Square]. A retired former colonel will communicate with the defence minister concerning this and provide assistance to him. PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim, will monitor this.

3.3.4 Friendly police and friendly military playing their role

Following the arrest of the protesting police, a senior team of friendly police will begin working on their behalf. They will claim that the military cannot arrest police and request discussions between a senior police team and the defence ministry.  This team will comprise of 9 senior police officers and former police officers. When the defence ministry says that there is no room for negotiation regarding this, the team will command all police to abandon their command and gather at the Republic Square helipad.

[Text missing]

Police will be informed under the guidance of Umar Naseer. And all police will be informed via SMS. This will incite hatred of the police towards the military and the coordination established between police and the military will be lost. And at this time, protesters gathered near the Shaheed Hussain Adam building [police headquarters] will get the opportunity to break the barricade and enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that the military will strongly look after the MMA and Reefside area.

3.3.5 Media and communication

The media will play the most important role at this juncture. DhiTV, DhiFM and VTV will claim that the police and the military are preparing for a major confrontation. And former senior police officers will call in the media for all police to go to the Republic Square in defence of their brothers.

Phones will be used as the primary mode of communication to carry this out. Friendly police will ensure by this time that communication-jamming facilities will be damaged beyond use. If phone calls and SMS are jammed due to any reason, messages that must be sent to police and the army will be delivered directly from DhiTV and DhiFM. Under such circumstances, these two media will become the primary communication and the communication coordination team will shift to the DhiTV studio.

3.3.6 Assistance from the military

As preparations would be underway for a major confrontation between police and the military, and because of the large number of police gathered at the Republic Square, the numbers of the military in Male’ at the time being small compared to the police, the police being in possession of non-lethal weapons, the most important power of the military being lethal weapons, and the fear of serious bloodshed in the country if the military uses lethal weapons against police, and after informing senior military officers of the superiority of police over the military, all of the military troops will be called on, with the assistance of the defence minister, to lay down their arms and join the protest.

It is believed that under the circumstances, with the situation brought to this [state], the military will have no other option and will accept the proposal. If they do not accept, the defence minister will do it forcefully.

3.3.7 Arresting Mohamed Nasheed

Following cooperation from the police and military, as it is the responsibility of the SPG [Special Protection Group] military officers to protect the president at such a time, Mohamed Nasheed will be taken out of Male’ by them under the pretence of protection. Mohamed Nasheed will be kept at Aarah [presidential retreat island] under military custody.

3.3.8 Supreme Court ruling that Mohamed Nasheed’s presidency is illegitimate

As the country’s order and stability would be lost with matters at this state, with the police and military clashing and the military not obeying Mohamed Nasheed’s command, a case will be filed at the Supreme Court requesting a ruling declaring that Nasheed has been found incapable of performing the duties of the President as there could be serious discord, unrest and bloodshed in the country if he remained in the post. Assurances have been received that the Supreme Court will issue such a ruling or court order to that effect when the case is filed.

The Supreme Court will sentence Nasheed to jail and bar him from politics for life because of the illegal activities committed while he was president, the allegations of efforts to wipe out Islam from the Maldives, and for the crime of illegally detaining politicians.

Filing the case at the Supreme Court and discussions concerning this matter will be carried out under the supervision of Qaumee Party President Dr Hassan Saeed. Dr Hassan Saeed and Ahmed Nazim from the People’s Alliance will carry out lobbying efforts to secure the support of a majority from the Supreme Court bench. Assurances have been given by PPM that Azima Shukoor will work to secure the assistance of the Chief Justice.

3.3.9 Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik taking the oath of office

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court passed upon Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik will take the oath of office and become the president. After the swearing-in, Dr Mohamed Waheed will immediately dissolve the cabinet.

After the president dissolves the cabinet, the fraternal political groups together with the president will carry out forming a new cabinet and appointing ministers. The newly formed cabinet will comprise of 10 ministries. As the defence ministry and home ministry are important for national security, ministers will first be appointed for these two ministries. The two ministers that shall be appointed are,

  1. Defence Ministry. Appointing current Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan to the post.
  2. Home Ministry. Appointing PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, on behalf of the party, as the Home Minister.

In addition, ministers will be appointed to the rest of the ministries on an equal basis among the fraternal political groups. And a vice president will be appointed as agreed upon by the fraternal political groups.

The following persons shall be appointed as the senior officers of the police and military,

  1. Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim will be appointed to the post of Chief of Defence Force.
  2. Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz will be appointed to the post of Commissioner of Police.

4. Dissolving MDP’s political activities

As the fraternal political groups have agreed that exerting influence upon the current leadership of the MDP and taking over control of the MDP is of utmost importance, it has been agreed to do the following to dissolve the current MDP leadership,

4.1 MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi

As Dr Ibrahim Didi is politically weak and not a political person despite being someone paving the way to advance politically, it has been noted that controlling MDP through Dr Didi will be easy. To this end, it has been decided to secure MDP’s presidential ticket for Dr Didi.

With the likelihood of MDP splitting being high as a result of the difficulties Dr Didi will face under his leadership from Mohamed Nasheed’s friends, Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim will provide assistance to Dr Didi at such a time.

[Text missing]

As Alhan Fahmy has been noted as someone with the capability of rallying and uniting MDP supporters in the absence of Mohamed Nasheed, it has been agreed that removing Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership is essential. It has also been noted that Alhan Fahmy does not have the opportunity of contesting in the 2013 election or becoming a vice presidential candidate.

It has been agreed that efforts to remove Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership will be carried out under the supervision of PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim.

4.3 MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik

It has been agreed that keeping MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik in his post would be fine. It has been noted that there is room to forcefully do things through him by using the corruption cases involving his Heavy Load company and intimidating him through his business dealings.

As Moosa Manik is seen as someone who would contest for the MDP’s 2013 presidential ticket, he has been noted as a leader who has the approval of MDP’s common members. Therefore, it has been noted that Moosa Manik could be used in the efforts to divide MDP and create antagonism towards Dr Didi within the MDP. It has also been agreed that a group could be formed under Moosa Manik to protest against the new government and create unrest. It has been discussed that the end of MDP could be brought about through these protests.

4.4 MDP National Council

As Mohamed Nasheed directly controls the MDP’s National Council, it has been agreed that controlling the council and bribing members would be important. And it has been agreed to hold a meeting in the coming month of January to formulate a long-term plan to that end.

5. Securing finance

It has been calculated and agreed that a total of 43 (forty-three) million rufiyaa will have to be spent to complete the matters stated in this agreement and to fulfil the demands of the persons who will provide assistance. The funding will be secured through the political parties involved in this agreement and supportive businessmen. PA parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nazim will be tasked with collecting the funds and spending it in accordance with the agreement. And 20% (8.4 million rufiyaa) has been handed over to Nazim by the Jumhooree Party on 26 December 2011.

6. Maintaining secrecy

This agreement, the content of the agreement and any affairs conducted in connection with this agreement shall not be shared or revealed to anyone other than those who sign the agreement. As this is an agreement that is of utmost importance made in defence of Islam and the Maldives, it should be considered that safeguarding this agreement and the information contained therein is done in defence of Islam and the Maldives, and we agree to not share any of this with any other person.

7. Resolution

On this day, 29 December 2011, I agree with a sound mind and following extensive discussion to completely carry out the aforementioned matters, as they are necessary for the defence of Islam and the nation, with the involvement of everyone party to this agreement.

Download the original document in Dhivehi


Comment: This is not a dictatorship

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

Since the 7 February 2012 coup that was not a coup, a disconcerting dissonance between what people witness with their own eyes and what they are officially told they see has become a regular part of life.

Last week, thousands of voting Maldivians watched the X-Rated video of Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed having sex with three prostitutes at a high-end hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was not just his clothes that Hameed shed in front of the people but also his dignity along with the ethical and legal right to sit on the bench. Ethical, because he so carelessly flouted the values of his profession, and legal because the Maldives defines unmarried sex between consenting adults as the crime of fornication.

Yet the official reaction has been like a ticker-tape running across the entire length of Hameed’s sexual marathon saying, ‘This is not sex. This is not zinah. This is not Hameed.’

Gasim Ibrahim, the presidential candidate for Jumhoree Party, has been one of the most vocal defenders of the judge. He asks us to ponder the infinite possibilities of why it was not Hameed in the video: “Anyone can dye their hair red.”

No one can argue with that – not in these days of L’Oréal.

Adhaalath, the self-appointed ‘religious leaders ’ – and the last Maldivian political institution one would expect to favour an informed decision over an ignorant one – has announced it cannot say “Hameed is fornicating” or “Hameed is not fornicating” unless the Judicial Service Commission says “This is Hameed” or “This is not Hameed”.

Until then Adhaalath — or any other government entity — will not see what it sees, nor must we believe our own eyes.

In November last year, 38 MPs in the Majlis agreed that President of the Civil Service Commission, Mohamed Fahmy, was more likely than not to have sexually harassed a female servant as she alleged. They voted to have him removed from the CSC.

Fahmy, though, is still there in the CSC, accompanied by a subliminal government-issue caption designed to appear under every image of Fahmy we come across: “This is not a sexual harasser” or “Sexual harassment is not a crime.”

Back in April this year, pictures emerged of Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb hob-nobbing with the Artur Brothers – Armenian gangsters who were chased out of Kenya in 2006 for heroin trafficking and involvement in the country’s troubled political scene.

Initially the official line was to say it was neither Nazim nor Adeeb hanging with the gangsters. Then came a very Gasim-esque defence: “It is possible that the Ministers and the Brothers were in the same place at the same time. That doesn’t mean they were together as in together together.”

Soon after, pictures emerged of the Brothers at the gala event organised by Nazim and Adheeb to re-open Olympus theatre. This was followed by evidence that one of them was staying in Farukolhufushi, a resort under direct control of Adheeb at the time. Still, the official line was: “This is not happening.”

It was the same with the leaked draft Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States. Nazim and others denied they saw the leaked version on ‘social media’, but were able to confirm “this is not the SOFA”.

So it was not.

A similar story with the PISCES system gifted by the United States: “This is a border control system” said both governments, and so it is; even though controlling borders is the least of PISCES’ concerns.

Then there were reports of the forged ‘extension’ of the agreement to extend the lease of Farukolhufushi resort, a copy of which was shown on Raajje TV. The authorities have stuck the “This did not happen” label on the incident, so it hasn’t.

Latest in these series of events occurred yesterday, the day marked on the calendar as ‘The Independence Day’. Two events were held to confirm this: one at the museum and one at the Republic Square.

The event at the museum was a reception hosted by Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and his wife Ilham Hussein for local and foreign dignitaries. It was held in the hall usually reserved for the most precious of national heritage artifacts. Their storage requires specific conditions, their care and handling needs highly trained hands. This is the expert opinion.

The official line, however, is different. In direct contradiction of results of years of study, the President’s Office put out a statement saying: having the party at the museum, or having untrained labourers move the priceless artifacts would not damage them. So it won’t.

Male’ watched as Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was given the highest national award of respect. For 30 years, Gayoom ruled the Maldives without respect for either human freedoms, dignity or the rule of law. It was a dictatorship that stalled economic, social, cultural and intellectual development for an entire generation.

But, the national honour, the shining thing around his neck, screams “This is not a dictator”. So he must not be.

This is a democracy.

Dr Azra Naseem has a PhD in international relations

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]


Egyptian coup “different” to Maldives’ 2012 power transfer: President Waheed

President Mohamed Waheed has condemned the overthrow of Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi by the military, but emphasised that the event that brought him to power in February 2012 was “different”.

Morsi, President Waheed informed local newspaper Haveeru, was “a little stubborn” in his oppression of opposition views and had “failed to allow space for others”.

“There are similarities in what happened in Egypt and Maldives. The difference is that the military didn’t bring the change in Maldives. The change was brought because he [Nasheed] resigned on his own,” Waheed declared.

Former President Nasheed resigned on public television on February 7, 2012, amid a mutiny by elements of the police and military, following the storming of the state broadcaster.

Demonstrators who took to the streets the following day were met with a brutal police crackdown filmed by international media, and condemned by international groups such as Amnesty.

President Waheed’s new ‘unity government’ meanwhile replaced the entirety of Nasheed’s cabinet with key figures in the former 30 year dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, ousted in 2008.

“There is a huge difference in Egypt because the military took over before the president resigned. According to our constitution, when the president resigns the vice president has to be sworn in. That was what happened in the Maldives,” Waheed emphasised.

“In the Maldives, the leader resigned because things became unbearable. In Egypt, the military took over because things became unbearable. It’s a totally different scenario,” he added.

“We’re seeing a very clear military coup in Egypt. In order to shield the truth, unrest was incited here [Maldives] under the false pretext of a military coup. That has been proven now,” he said.

Former Maldives’ President Mohamed Nasheed likewise condemned the ousting of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president by the military, and called on the international community not to give the new regime legitimacy.

“The world should not kid itself into believing that this coup hasn’t derailed Egypt’s fledgling democracy,” Nasheed said.

“Having experienced a coup myself, I understand how important it is for fresh presidential elections to be held quickly and for democracy to be restored. There is only one legitimate way to remove a democratically-elected leader and that is through the ballot box, not through the mob or the military,” Nasheed said.

“If leaders are unpopular, the people have an opportunity to remove them peacefully through elections.

Morsi was deposed yesterday at the conclusion of a 48 hour ultimatium issued by the Egyptian military.

The military entered the country’s fractious political fray after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against Morsi and his Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood.

The military has taken Morsi into custody and issued arrest warrants for 300 members of his party, as well as closing down its television stations and other support bases.

The head of the Supreme Court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in as interim head of state.

The US, which contributes significantly to the Egyptian military, has expressed “deep concern” about Morsi’s ouster, and called for review of its aid to the country.

“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove [President Morsi] and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government,” said US President Barack Obama in a statement.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague meanwhile said “political realities” required the UK to recognise the new Egyptian adminstration, claiming that the country “recognises states not governments”.

“It’s a popular intervention, there’s no doubt about that. We have to recognise the enormous dissatisfaction in Egypt with what the president had done and the conduct of the government over past year,” Hague said.

At the same time, “We don’t support military intervention as a way to resolve disputes in a democratic system. If one president can be deposed by the military then of course another one can be in the future. That’s a dangerous thing,” he added.

Massive protests in Egypt triggered military ultimatium


Maldives Pavilion at Venice Biennale split in “mini-coup d’etat”

The political strife gripping the Maldives has permeated the country’s first pavilion at the Venice Biennale art show, catalysing a behind-the-scenes split that ultimately factionalised the pavilion in what one side contends was a ‘mini-coup d’etat’.

What was initially intended to be an innocent story highlighting the creative climate change advocacy occurring through the pavilion’s artistic expression, instead revealed infighting and controversy stretching back to February 2012.

The official Maldives Pavilion exhibition is curated by a joint Arab-European collective of artists called the Chamber of Public Secrets (CPS), and commissioned by current Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb.

The overarching theme of the Maldives’ pavilion, entitled “Portable Nation: Disappearance as a Work in Progress – Approaches to Ecological Romanticism”, is about how the survival of the nation, Maldivian people and cultural heritage are threatened by catastrophic climate change impacts, such as rising sea levels.

The unofficial pavilion, located 200 metres up the road, is the Maldives Exodus Caravan Show, curated by Danish artist and former resident of the Maldives Søren Dahlgaard and initially commissioned by former Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Maryiam Zulfa.

Deputy Curator of the Exodus Caravan Show, Elena Gilbert, told Minivan News that the some of the artists “recognising the necessity and urgency to focus on the current political and cultural unrest of the Maldives, and to provide solidarity with the majority of the population against the dictatorship”, split from the pavilion following February 7’s controversial transfer of power.

The rebel pavilion, Gilbert said, “presents a selection of works and
 performances from Maldivian and international artists in regards to an expanded conversation of climate.”

Dahlgaard told Minivan News he “initiated the original idea to have a Maldives National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2010, then presented this idea to former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Minister Zulfa,” Dahlgaard told Minivan News this week.

“In December 2011, Zulfa commissioned me to organise/curate this project – there was no money from the Maldivian government involved in this, I was to raise the finances for the project myself,” said Dahlgaard.

“But now the Maldives National Pavilion is a deeply problematic project, which represents the current coup regime. The artists are now puppets of the regime, whether they are aware of it or not,” he added.

Dahlgaard met with former President Mohamed Nasheed in Copenhagen, Denmark this April and discussed the Venice Biennale ‘proxy-coup’.

“Nasheed laughed when I told him about the coup of the Maldives National Pavilion by Khaled Ramadan, the CPS Danish-based Lebanese curator,” recounted Dahlgaard, “because this is of course peanuts in comparison to the fight Nasheed has gone through and is going through for democracy in Maldives.”

‘Hijacked’ pavilion

Dahlgaard explained that he wanted the project to be a collaborative effort and met with many people experienced with Biennales and large exhibitions, and said ultimately Khaled Ramadan and the CPS decided to join the project.

However, the partnership between Dahlgaard and Khaled began to fall apart following the controversial transfer of power which rocked the Maldives in February 2012.

“Khaled has hijacked the project and is now working closely with the coup regime and representing them in Venice,” said Dahlgaard. “Most of the artists in the Pavilion have not been told this story.”

“After the coup in Feb 2012, we decided to continue the planning of the project, since we were hoping the democratic party would be back in power by June 2013, in time for the opening of the Venice Biennale,” he said.

“If this was not the case, the plan was to clearly state that the Maldives National pavilion was representing the democratic Maldives and did not acknowledge the current coup regime,” he continued.

“You have to be aware of the situation you are part of, and this includes the political situation. The political context is very important… even a flower painting is political in the current context of the situation in Maldives,” he explained.

“So you can not ignore that, especially when dealing with an issue like climate change.”

Dahlgaard alleged  that instead of leaving the project, “Ramadan wanted to take control… But the only way he would do this was to jump into the pocket of the current regime in Maldives.”

“Khaled first went to the Venice Biennale office and told them that the commission I had was from the previous government, creating an issue around this so the Biennale Foundation would want a new letter,” said Dahlgaard.

“Then he proceeded to the Maldives, where he stayed for more than two months trying to get an appointment with people at the Ministry of [Tourism and] Culture,” he continued.

According to Dahlgaard, he and Ramadan were supposed to travel to the Maldives together in March 2013, but claimed Ramadan stopped communicating with him in late January.

“I don’t know what Ramadan said to Adheeb and the present Culture Ministry, probably along the lines that ‘Soren Dahlgaard is the son-in-law of [former Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed] Naseem, is connected to President Nasheed, and therefore representing the opposition now’,” alleged Dahlgaard.

“Or that we had been talking about having a pavilion that would have free expression and be a platform for voices from the ground.”

Ultimately the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture issued a new letter of commission on April 8, 2013, declaring that “Dahlgaard is no longer associated with the Maldives Pavilion by any means” and “obliged” CPS and their representative Ramadan to “send regular reports on their activities to the ministry”.

The previous letter, issued by the ,inistry on March 5, 2013, confirmed that Dahlgaard alone was to be the “official organiser and curator” of the Maldives Pavilion.

“It’s a coup dictator regime that can say whatever they want [and] Adheeb is a horrible gangster,” alleged Dahlgaard.

“He only learned about the project when Khaled Ramadan came to Malé to explain to him that this is a big international cultural prestige project.”

Dahlgaard told Minivan News he believes the situation is “not about two guys having a power struggle”.

“I don’t want or need power or to be the boss; I was not kicking him out,” Dahlgaard said.

“I have nothing to hide and the truth must come out. I am not scared of Khaled’s crazy accusations,” he added. “I have no wish to damage anybody’s reputation. I will however defend myself against untruthful attacks from Khaled Ramadan.”

Nasheed knew nothing about the Biennale: Ramadan

CPS curator Khaled Ramadan and the producer of his documentary film, Abed Anouti, claimed former President Mohamed Nasheed “never knew anything about the pavilion not even till this very moment”.

“I met Mr Nasheed as an Arab journalist and I am sure he has no idea at all about the Maldives Pavilion at the Venice Biennale,” Ramadan said in a letter, sent to Minivan News and the Inter Press Service (IPS) following the publication of articles he felt were “full of errors and misinformation”.

Former President Nasheed told Minivan News on June 10 that “Soren has been working on [the pavilion] for a long time and has in many instances come to me and we have had many discussions about it. The last I heard about was when I was last in Denmark and it’s good he has been able to get the show on the road.”

No dispute

“The pavilion has never been part of any political dispute in the Maldives. It was independently curated from A to Z and different art councils from around the world financed the works of the invited artists,” Ramadan told Minivan News via email.

“In relation to the Venice Biennale, governments do not usually outsource such assignments,” he explained.

“Due to the prestigious nature of the biennale, governments commission professional curators by inviting them to help promote local artists and cultures.”

Ramadan claimed that the “entire project, concept, title, construction of website, design of social media, formulation and design of PR material, and all applications are the outcome of the CPS members, NOT Soren Dahlgaard in any respect.”

“He is incapable of contributing to any of the mentioned products,” Ramadan added. “Mr Dahlgaard has never been an inspiration to any of us in the group due to our academic backgrounds and level of art conduct.”

He alleged Dahlgaard “cheated his way into serious art arrangements like the Venice Biennale by obtaining a letter of commissioning via corrupt contacts and not according to qualifications.”

After the Venice Biennale office contacted the CPS about the March 2013 letter from the Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, which stated Dahlgaard was to be the sole organiser and curator of the Maldives Pavilion, “we immediately contacted the [Maldives’] Minister of Culture asking for an explanation,” said Ramadan.

He claims the letter Dahlgaard provided the Venice Biennale was a “corrupt letter” which Minister Adheeb “didn’t know anything about”.

“Therefore the minister ordered the total removal of Dahlgaard from the project… following an internal inquiry,” said Ramadan.

He said that the CPS’ collaboration with Dahlgaard ended when the Minister Adheeb “discovered that Mr Dahlgaard was misusing the Ministry’s name and was planning a secret pavilion”.

Contentious IPS article

The split at the biennale was first noted by an article on the Maldives Pavilion published on the Inter Press Service by journalist Ferry Biedermann.

Biedermann wrote that the pavilion, once the initiative of former president Mohamed Nasheed, “was almost abandoned after he resigned under hotly contested circumstances in February 2012.”

“The new government, with plenty of other issues demanding its attention, lost interest and allowed a joint Arab-European collective of curators, calling themselves Chamber of Public Secrets, to take over the pavilion and mount a show under the banner Portable Nation,” the journalist wrote.

He cited Maren Richter, an Austrian associate curator: “They did not care. They did not mind. They don’t believe in the power of art to affect anything anyway.”

Following the publication of the IPS article, referred to by Minivan News in an earlier story on the pavilion controversy, Ramadan and Anouti wrote a letter to both publications accusing Biedermann of “misuse and misinterpretation of our artistic intentions” to “score a journalistic sensation”.

“Our work in the Maldives Pavilion is an independent and positive project that focuses on climate issues in global context while addressing the Maldives as a case study,” the pair stated.

“The article by Ferry Biedermann published at IPS is full of miss information. Mr Ferry NEVER interviewed anyone from the Maldives Pavilion, his claims stand for his own account. He has no sound recording, email correspondence, footage or even photos from the curators of the pavilion to support his claims,” they alleged.

Minivan News put the allegations to Biedermann, who replied he was “puzzled more than anything else by how brazen Mr Anouti is in his attack from the very first line.”

“Unfortunately for him, he immediately makes the grave mistake of saying something that can be easily disproven; of course I have sound recordings and email exchanges to prove that I talked to Ms Richter and communicated by email with Mr Ramadan.

“They would never deny that. If they, as curators, do not belong to the Maldives pavilion, then who does?” he said.

Image courtesty the Maldives Exodus Caravan Show