Government proposes changes to local government model

The government has submitted amendments to the Decentralisation Act to make councillors part-time with the exception of the president and vice president of island, atoll, and city councils.

If the proposed changes are passed into law, councillors other than the president and vice president would not be involved in day-to-day activities after a president and vice president are elected through secret ballot.

While the president and vice president would be paid a monthly salary, other councillors are to be paid an allowance for attending council meetings – a move that would lead to substantial savings from the public sector wage bill.

The responsibilities of other councillors would be to “attend meetings of the council, participate in the council’s decision-making [process], and assist the council in ways determined by the council in achieving its objectives,” read the amendment.

The amendment bill (Dhivehi) was submitted on behalf of the administration of President Abdulla Yameen by outgoing Progressive Party of Maldives MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur.

The purpose of the bill is to strengthen decentralised administration in line with the unitary nature of the Maldivian state, stated the introduction of the legislation.

In January, the Local Government Authority (LGA) – the institution tasked with monitoring councils and coordinating with the central government – revealed that recommendations had been shared with parliament to make most councillors part-time.

Recurrent expenditure

Defence Minister and LGA Chair Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim told the press that the changes would allow professionals to contest the council elections, as their responsibilities would be offering advice and participating in decision-making.

“The president and vice president will operate the council. Instead, now they have to leave their profession – the teacher, headmaster or boat builder has to give up his job,” he explained.

As a consequence, Nazim contended, the councillors’ time was not put to productive use.

“The benefit of [the changes] is that the councillor has to work a very short amount of time and be free to work productively for the island’s development,” he added.

The presidents of island councils currently receive a monthly salary and allowance of MVR15,000 (US$973) while council members receive MVR11,000 (US$713). The mayor of Malé is paid MVR45,000 (US$2,918) a month.

Under article 25 of the Decentralisation Act, a five-member council is elected in islands with a population of less than 3,000, a seven-member council for islands with a population between 3,000 and 10,000, and a nine-member council for islands with a population of more than 10,000.

City councils comprise of “an elected member from every electoral constituency of the city”, and atoll councils comprises of “elected members from the electoral constituencies within the administrative division.”

In December, the World Bank warned in a report that the Maldivian economy was at risk due to excessive government spending.

The current model of more than 1,000 elected councillors approved in 2010 by the then-opposition majority parliament was branded “economic sabotage” by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government, which had proposed limiting the number of councillors to “no more than 220.”

The new layer of government introduced with the first local council elections in February 2011 cost the state US$12 million a year with a wage bill of US$220,000 a month.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told parliament’s Budget Review Committee last year that President Yameen favoured revising the local government framework to reduce the number of island and atoll councillors.

In November 2013, the incoming administration proposed merging island and atoll councils, with the latter to be composed of a representative from each island of the atoll.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz said at the time that “the president’s thinking is not to cut down on the number of councillors. But to elect councillors based on the population of the islands. This is a move to curb state expenditure.”

However, parliament did not move to amend the Decentralisation Act ahead of the local council elections on January 18, which saw 1,100 councillors elected for a three-year term.

While the proposals were intended to reduce the state’s recurrent expenditure – which accounts for over 70 percent of the budget – Nazim said the LGA does not support changing the council’s term from three to five years.

Contending that the legal responsibility of local councils was implementing the government’s policies, Nazim said voters should have the opportunity to change their elected representatives during an ongoing five-year presidential term.

“Citizens get an opportunity to see what kind of results the council produced and the extent to which they upheld the government’s policies,” he said.


MNDF gifted helicopter as ties with India continue to grow

The Government of India has gifted the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) an advanced light helicopter, with local media media declaring a “new chapter” in Indo-Maldivian defence ties.

The Hindu reported Nazim as stating that the gift was “paving the way for further strengthening of ties between both countries.”

The helicopter was officially handed over by Indian Southern Naval Command officer Vice Admiral Satish Soni to the MNDF’s Brigadier General Ali Zuhair – the second such award after a similar gift in 2010.

The Maldives’ Minister of Defence Mohamed Nazim – currently on an official visit to the Maldives northern neighbour – officially unveiled the colours of the aircraft. The helicopter will reportedly be manned by an Indian flight crew for search and rescue operations, and surveillance within the Maldives EEZ.

The Times of India reported Satish as praising the Maldives contribution to security in the Indian Ocean region, citing the MNDF’s frequent assistance in anti-piracy operations.

Nazim’s trip precedes that of newly elected President Abdulla Yameen, who is scheduled to visit India on his first official state visit on December 22.

Yameen’s attempts to enhance bilateral ties after a fraught period in the pair’s diplomatic history were recently lauded by former President – Yameen’s half-brother and party leader – Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Indian media has suggested that Yameen’s visit will see the re-opening of a standby credit facility which had seemingly been frozen during the relationship’s nadir in 2012.

The most recent installment of India’s pledged budget support stalled just stays before a concerted – and often xenophobic – campaign against the development of Malé’s international airport culminated in the eviction of Indian company GMR.

The following month, the Indian High Commission in Malé publicly aired a list of consular grievances including persistent discrimination against Indian expatriate workers, a failure to reciprocate generous visa processes for Indians in the the Maldives, and threats made against diplomatic personnel.

Largesse from other regional powers has also come in the form of Chinese development aid, with 50 million yuan (US$ 8.2 million) promised for development projects within weeks of Yameen’s November 16 election victory.

The MNDF’s official website has reported that the award of the helicopter was part of its roadmap for the first 100 days of the Yameen administration. Other aims include the establishment of a justice system within the – recently fratricidal – organisation, and the conducting of international training with its Indian counterparts.

Meeting with Indian Defence Minister A.K. Anthony last week, Nazim discussed increasing cooperation between the armed forces of both countries and  advancing medical facilities and expertise in the MNDF through training medical specialists.

Anthony announced that all MNDF personnel will now be eligible for treatment in Armed Forces medical institutions in India for major surgeries and for treatment of major and serious illnesses.


Majlis returns no-confidence motions against president and defence minister

The People’s Majlis has returned the no-confidence motions against President Dr Mohamed Waheed, and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, arguing that the pair’s appointments had expired on November 11.

Following Waheed’s decision to stay in office beyond the end of the constitutionally specified term, Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid wrote a letter informing Waheed that he was no longer in command of the country.

A motion passed in the Majlis to hand interim power over to the speaker was overruled by the Supreme Court as the presidential election took place on Saturday (November 9).

“Today, as the head of state, my responsibility is to protect the country’s highest interests. Many Maldivians, international organisations and countries are pressuring me to resign and temporarily hand over the government to the People’s Majlis Speaker. On the other hand, even more citizens want me to stay on, to continue with administration of the country, to carry out my duty,” Waheed told the nation on Sunday evening.


Maldives government terminates Nexbis agreement, gives 14 days to vacate

The Maldives government has terminated its agreement with Malaysian security firm Nexbis to install and operate a border control system, giving it 14 days to vacate.

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim local media that the disputed contract – signed under the previous government of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2010 – was terminated by the cabinet yesterday over fears it was causing unspecified “major losses” to the state.

The termination was announced as immigration officials today said replacement technology being provided by the US government was not presently functional, with implementation “on hold” pending a legal hearing into the matter.

Department of Immigration Spokesperson Ibrahim Ashraf told Minivan News this morning that he had not personally been made aware of any decision by the government to terminate the agreement.

However, Ashraf confirmed that replacement technology being provided free of charge by the US government was “not 100 percent functional” at present.

“Because of legal issues, the project has been on hold,” he explained.

Immigration officials last month confirmed that “testing” had been underway on the new US-donated system, while Nexbis’ border control technology remained in use to monitor the arrivals and departures of foreign nationals

Ashraf referred further questions on the Nexbis system to Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali, who was not responding to calls at time of press.

Nexbis is the second high profile foreign investment to be suddenly evicted by the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed in the past 12 months.

The government last November announced it was terminating a 25-year concession agreement with India-based GMR to construct and operate a new terminal at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) in Male, giving the company seven days to vacate the country.

GMR is currently seeking compensation totaling US$1.4 billion from the government as part of arbitration proceedings to be heard in a Singaporean court, damages eclipsing the annual state budget.

Speaking to local media today, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim was quoted as saying that the government expected to assume control of the country’s borders at the end of the 14 day notice period given to Nexbis.

He claimed that the US system was also “ready to be operational”, although no decision had yet been made to use the technology.

Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor added that discussions were presently being held with Nexbis over reaching an out of court settlement for terminating the contract, although she declined to provide any more details to media today.

“We assure you that the burden on the state will be far less with the termination of the agreement rather than continuing with it. We will take this process forward in the best interest of the state,” she was quoted as saying by Haveeru.

Concession agreement

Under the concession agreement signed with the Maldives government, Nexbis levied a fee of US$2 from passengers in exchange for installing, maintaining and upgrading the country’s immigration system.  The company also agreed a fee of US$15 for every work permit card issued under the system.

Both AG Azima and Defence Minister Nazim were not responding to calls at time of press.

Nexbis last month invoiced the Department of Immigration and Emigration for US$2.8 million (MVR 43 million) for the installation and operation of its border control technology in line with a concession agreement signed in 2010 – requesting payment be settled within 30 days.

Nexbis’ lawyers argued that the company had expected the fee to be included in the taxes and surcharges applied to airline tickets in and out of the country, according to local media.  However, lawyers argued these payments had not been made due to the government’s “neglect” in notifying the relevant international authorities.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from Suood, Anwar & Co – the company’s legal representatives in the Maldives – at time of press.

Parliamentary vote

Parliament had voted unanimously to terminate the agreement on 25 December 2012, in line with a recommendation from the Finance Committee alleging foul play in the signing of the agreement with former Immigration Controller Illyas Hussain Ibrahim.

Presenting the Finance Committee report to the floor, Chair MP Ahmed Nazim explained at the time that the “main problem” flagged by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was that the tender had not been made in accordance with the documents by the National Planning Council authorising the project.

The Finance Committee also recommended terminating the agreement over concerns it contained clauses to waive taxes to the company, Nazim said.

He noted that imposing or waiving taxes was a prerogative of parliament under article 97(d) of the constitution.

Following parliament’s termination of the project in December, Nexbis sought a legal injunction to prevent any cancellation of the agreement while court hearings over the contract were still ongoing.

The company had sought to contest whether the ACC has the power to compulsorily request the government to cease all work in relation to the border control system agreement.

However, in April of this year, the High Court overturned a Civil Court ruling declaring the ACC could not terminate a border control system (BSC) agreement signed by the Department of Immigration with Malaysian mobile security firm Nexbis.

The High Court ruling (Dhivehi) cleared the way for the Civil Court to hear the case filed by the ACC should it be resubmitted.

Nexbis has emphatically denied allegations of corruption, previously speculating that “criminal elements supporting human trafficking” were seeking to sabotage the agreement.


India to provide Maldives with equipment, financial assistance for defence

India has pledged to provide the Maldives with an assortment of defence equipment, infrastructure, and training, reports local media.

Seven radar systems, adding to the three already in place, are being given by the Indian government, as well as a helicopter for search, rescue and emergency evacuation in the northern Maldives.

Financial assistance is also being provided to construct a Coast Guard building and a harbor for Coast Guard vessels, in addition to establish a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) composite training centre in Lhaviyani Maafilaafushi.

The pledges were made by Indian Defence Minister A K Antony during Minister of Defence and National Security Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim’s recent visit.


MDP withdraws no-confidence motions against ministers

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has withdrawn no-confidence motions in parliament against Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim as well as a motion to remove MP Gasim Ibrahim from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The parliament secretariat released a statement yesterday (April 14) confirming the move, explaining that MPs had the discretion under parliamentary rules to remove no-confidence motions before they are put to a vote.

Speaking to press before departing for Denmark last night, former President Mohamed Nasheed said the MDP parliamentary group made the decision in the interest of averting political turmoil and ensuring calm and order in parliament ahead of the presidential election on September 7.

The MDP presidential candidate added that the party would “always consider public interest”.

MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, parliamentary group leader of MDP, told local media that the decision was made to avoid strife caused by the dispute among MPs over secret voting.

Voting on the no-confidence motions tabled for the parliament sitting on April 8 was postponed after MDP MPs insisted on conducting voting through secret ballot.

With 29 MPs out of the 77 in parliament, the formerly ruling MDP needed the support of at least 10 MPs to pass the no-confidence motions.

At last week’s sitting, MDP MPs claimed that the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) agreed to vote in favour of the motions before reversing the decision at the eleventh hour.

MPs of the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) and DRP had voted in favour of secret ballot for no-confidence votes in December 2012.

However, on March 16, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the amendment to parliamentary rules stipulating that no-confidence motions must be conducted through secret ballot.

In its judgment (Dhivehi) on the constitutionality of secret ballots for no-confidence votes, the Supreme Court majority opinion contended that the rule contravened article 85 of the constitution as well as parliamentary principles and norms of free and democratic societies.

The Supreme Court also ruled in March that parliament’s removal of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan was unconstitutional.

Both rulings were criticised at the time by opposition, government-aligned and independent MPs as an unconstitutional “challenge to the separation of powers.”

On March 19, parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee voted to seek a replacement for Fahmy at the CSC despite the Supreme Court judgment reversing his dismissal.

“The committee decided today that he [Fahmy] should go and we should continue looking for another person. Effectively we are ignoring the Supreme Court’s decision. The MDP will continue to raise this issue in parliament, it is a policy and it is legally non-negotiable. We cannot compromise on that,” MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor told Minivan News at the time.

The committee’s decision has since been approved at the parliament floor, passing with 42 votes in favour during last Wednesday’s (April 10) sitting.


On the following day, the Supreme Court released a press statement declaring that judgments, orders and rulings of the apex court with their attendent legal ramifications must be accepted “without further debate or interpretation.”

The Supreme Court called on all persons and institutions subject to the Maldivian constitution to comply with and respect its decisions.

The statement referred to article 145(c) of the constitution, which states, “the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.”

The press release also noted that article 141(b) establishes the Supreme Court as “the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives.”


President “unaware of any illegal activities” as Artur brothers investigation continues

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has told local media he was not aware of any danger posed by the presence in the Maldives of two Armenian nationals identified as the Artur brothers, as police continue to investigate the duo’s operations locally.

Controversy has surrounded the presence of Margaryan and Sargayan Artur in the Maldives, primarily based around concerns over their alleged links to criminal activities in Kenya.

On Tuesday (April 2), parliament passed an extraordinary motion concerning the presence of the two foreign nationals in the Maldives, expressing concern that an alleged connection between certain cabinet ministers and the two men posed a “direct threat to national security”.

The President’s Office has maintained there is little information about the nature of the two foreign nationals’ business interests in the Maldives, claiming that the uncertainty about them extended to the exact pronunciation of the Artur name.

Asked about the controversy today, President Waheed told reporters he received no intelligence so far linking the Artur brothers to any criminal activity in the country, adding that much of his knowledge on them was based on local media reports.

“I know that they are in Maldives. I’m also looking into it,” he was quoted he told local media after returning to Male’ from an official visit to Kuwait.

“I didn’t know that they were engaged in any illegal activities,” President Waheed stated, after admitting the government were told by authorities of the brother’s presence in the country earlier this year.


President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said that while police were currently in the process of investigating the activities of the Artur brothers in the Maldives, there was no information linking the two foreign nationals to any criminal operations in the country.

Police spokesperson Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that police investigations were continuing to determine if the two foreign nationals had been conducting any illegal activities in the country.  He added that no details into a “critical” ongoing case could be given at present.

However, a BMW car belonging to a company called ‘Artur Brother World Connection’ and registered for use in the Gaafu Dhaalu area was reportedly seized by authorities in Male’ today.

Haneef previously confirmed that police were aware of the Artur brothers presence in the Maldives back in January. He said authorities had contacted “relevant government authorities” at the time to inform them of the Artur brothers’ alleged links to drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets, dealings with senior government officials and other serious crimes in Kenya.

Minivan News understands that relevant authorities, including the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), Ministry of Home Affairs, and the President’s Office were officially informed in January of the presence of the Artur brothers, even as Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb signed a letter seeking residency permits for the pair.

Import business

Local media reported that a company registered locally as the “Artur Brothers World Connection” has secured an import license and brought goods into the country after the tourism ministry had granted both men a foreign investment permit.

“We have learned that they had imported some goods under that license. We haven’t been able to determine what those items are. It is not something the Ministry keeps track of. We have to find that out from the customs,” Finance Minister Ahmed Mohamed told Haveeru.

Immigration Controller Mohamed Ali has previously told local media that Artur Sargasyan left the Maldives on Sunday (March 31). Sargasyan first entered the Maldives on a tourist visa in August 2012 and returned again in October, Dr Ali said.

Meanwhile, photos of the Arturs in the company of Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb and Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim emerged on social media last weekend, apparently taken during the Piston Motor Racing Challenge held on Hulhumale’ between January 25 and 26.

One photo showed Artur Sargsyan next to Adheeb and Nazim, while another has him apparently starting one of the motorcycle races at the event, which was organised by the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF).

Another image showed Sargsyan at the red carpet opening for the Olympus Cinema.


Defense Minister Nazim and Tourism Minister Adheeb have denied any involvement with the pair.

Speaking to Minivan News this week, Adheeb reiterated that he had no personal links with the Artur brothers, whom he said had now left the country on his recommendation.

According to Adheeb, the Artur brothers had previously invested in the country through a registered joint venture company with members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Adheeb said he “advised them to leave peacefully and they agreed to sort out their visa and leave. They have now left.”

Parliamentary motion

Submitting a motion to parliament on Tuesday about the Artur’s presence in the Maldives, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy raised concerns about their alleged connections with ministers Nazim and Adheeb.

“The Artur brothers are a direct threat to national security since they are – true to their old style and from the experiences of other countries – directly linked to the top government officials including Mr Mohamed Nazim who is both the Defense Minister and the acting Transport Minister, as well as Mr Ahmed Adheeb who is the Tourism Minister,” Fahmy told Minivan News.

Fahmy said the Artur brothers were believed to have carried out “all sorts of serious illegal activities internationally” and that the Maldives “is incapable of handling these notorious conmen from Armenia. They are capable of taking local criminal gangs to different heights.”

Fahmy explained that immigration laws do not permit entry into the Maldives if the visitor is “even suspected” of being involved in human smuggling or trafficking; may be [considered] a national threat, or otherwise may commit crimes against the state.”

“Given all these facts – and that the Artur brothers are  world-infamous for carrying out criminal activities of this sort – they were allowed into the country and seen publicly with top government officials,” Fahmy added, alleging that the pair have three meetings with Adheeb and Nazim on Hulhumale’ and on Club Faru.

The extraordinary motion passed with 27 votes in favour to 10 against.

Meanwhile, Kenyan media has this week media reported that the brothers’ practice of publicly ingratiating themselves with senior government officials appeared not to have changed.

“The Arturs’ mode of operation where they show up in the company of top and well-connected government leaders appears to have been replicated in the Maldives. Their presence in the Maldives comes days after ousted leader Mohammed Nasheed expressed fear over his life,” reported Kenya’s Daily Nation publication.


No-confidence vote against defence, home ministers scheduled for April 8

Parliament has scheduled a vote of no-confidence against Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed for April 8.

A vote to dismiss Jumhoree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim from his position within the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has also been scheduled for April 9 during a parliament session held today (March 27).

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim told Minivan News that all three motions had been submitted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“On the day of the vote, parliament will give the floor to the MDP to present its case. The ministers will then be given the opportunity to respond before parliament then opens the debate and votes on a decision.

“The MDP currently holds 29 seats in parliament, but it will require another ten for the ministers and Gasim to be removed from their positions. This has been undertaken before, a precedent has been previously set,” Nazim said.

The deputy speaker said that parliament had spoken to each of the party leaders in order to ask for all of their MPs to be present during the vote.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor stated that the party was confident both Nazim and Jameel would be removed from their posts.

In regard to the possibility of conducting no confidence votes through a secret ballot, Hamid said that he did not believe the votes would be submitted anonymously following the supreme court ruling the practice unconstitutional.

On December 3, 2012, parliament voted 41-34 to approve amendments to the parliamentary rules of procedure to conduct no-confidence votes to impeach the President and remove cabinet members through secret ballot.

However, earlier in March, the Supreme Court ruled 6-1 to strike down the amendment to parliament’s standing orders as unconstitutional.

Local media reported on Wednesday that the MDP had asked for a vote to dismiss Gasim from the JSC under the reasoning that an individual campaigning for the presidential elections, should not be permitted to sit in the commission.

Last week, parliament sent a letter to Gasim notifying him of a submitted case to remove him from his post within the JSC.

The JSC formed the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench that is currently presiding over the trial against former President and MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

Jameel failed to control peace and order in the country: MDP

In October last year, the MDP submitted its first motion against Home Minister Jameel over concerns from the party of what it called an “unprecedented” increase in murders and assault in the Maldives since the transfer of power.

Despite the MDP withdrawing the no-confidence motion against the home minister a month later in November for an unexplained reason, a second no-confidence vote was submitted by the party in December.

A statement issued by the MDP accused Jameel of failing to control civil peace and order in the country, which it said had led to the loss of eight lives.

The MDP further referred to an incident in which a man on a motorcycle was killed after a police officer struck a second motorcyclist with his baton, causing him to collide with the first.

The MDP alleged that Home Minister Jameel had tried to cover up police involvement in the death.

Speaking to Minivan News in December last year, Dr Jameel claimed he expected to successfully defend himself from the motion, as would other senior government representatives.

“[The no-confidence motion] is part of a democratic process that the government of the day must always be prepared to face. I feel it’s equally vital for those of us sitting in the government to inform the public and People’s Majlis of our performance and decisions.”

“I am sure once our side of the story is heard by the Majlis, the concerns and charges raised in the motion will become clearer and will be seen as baseless. It’s important in such a motion, in my opinion, to appear in the Majlis and fully cooperate with this democratic exercise,” he added.

Nazim misused his authority: MDP

In December 2012, the MDP filed no-confidence motions against Defence Minister Nazim, alleging that he had misused his authority as the Acting Transport Minister to influence the termination of civil contracts outside of due legal procedure.

The motion followed the government’s decision to void the agreement between itself and Indian infrastructure giant GMR over developing Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

Defence Minister Nazim, who temporarily took over the transport ministry following the sacking of former Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed, played a pivotal role in the eviction of GMR.

In a brief interview given to local media in December following the MDP’s decision to push a no-confidence motion against him, Nazim stated that move was a “desperate” attempt to weaken the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.


New footage of Feb 7 shows Yameen, Gasim inciting demonstrators, police

Private broadcaster Raajje TV on Friday aired previously unseen footage from February 7, 2012, before the controversial resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed claimed that he resigned “under duress” after elements of the police and army joined opposition protesters and attacked the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters following a police mutiny in Republic Square.

The new footage shows government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim – both presidential hopefuls – address the protesting police, army officers and opposition supporters.

“The Indian government is with the Maldivian people,” Yameen announced to the assembled police and anti-government demonstrators. He was however cut short by police appealing for cooperation from the crowd.

After MNDF officers were pegged back and forced inside military headquarters following a confrontation with the mutinying police, the Republic Square – or the “green zone” where gatherings are prohibited – was overrun by opposition supporters and police officers.

The PPM parliamentary group leader reportedly arrived at the Republic Square after a meeting at the Indian High Commission.

Business tycoon and JP presidential candidate Gasim meanwhile praised mutinying police and army officers for their “sacrifice” and “jihad for the nation.”

In March 2012, Raajje TV aired video footage of political party leaders inside police headquarters before the resignation of President Nasheed. Upon receiving news of President Nasheed’s decision to resign, Gasim is heard to say that it was “fortunate that this ended without going to military rule.”

Gasim is a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing Nasheed’s trial in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, in the more recent footage televised by Raajje TV, a police officer announces that “ [state broadcaster] MNBC has been brought under control” and that the security forces were in the process of “arresting those we have to take into custody.”

Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim and Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz are also seen active in the area outside military headquarters, with one of the clips showing the latter carrying President Nasheed’s resignation letter.

Both ex-servicemen under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom were civilians at the time of the transfer of power.

In other videos that emerged at the time, Nazim is seen announcing to the mutinying police and army officers that President Nasheed had been told to resign “unconditionally”.

Nazim also announced that he was “in charge of the army” and would soon appoint senior officers.

One of the previously unseen videos aired by Raajje TV further showed President Nasheed exiting the military headquarters in a car surrounded by MNDF officers and being driven the short distance to the President’s Office.

Following Nazim’s appeal to those gathered to refrain from violence, former Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan is also seen addressing the crowd atop a military vehicle and appealing for cooperation and nonviolence.

Rishwan had reportedly denied any involvement in the events of February 7, 2012.

Meanwhile, in an interview with government-aligned radio station DhiFM on February 8 this year, Defence Minister Nazim claimed that President Nasheed would have been mobbed and killed if he was not escorted to the President’s Office under military protection.

“I would say in truth, given the level of hatred from the public, President Nasheed would not be in this world today if we had not taken him out and to the President’s Office under our protection. [Former President] Mohamed Ameen comes to mind. The people would have mobbed [Nasheed] just like that,” Nazim was quoted as saying in local media.

He added that video clips from the day would show “the extreme level of hatred from the public”.

Similar remarks were made by PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer days after the transfer of power. Naseer claimed at a PPM rally that Nasheed’s only options were to either “resign after bloodshed or resign peacefully”.

On August 30, 2012, the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) formed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed however concluded that there was “no coup, no mutiny and no duress” in President Nasheed’s resignation.

February 8

Raajje TV has also aired a video clip from the day after the transfer of presidential power following a brutal police crackdown on a walk across Male’ by supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

In the wake of the crackdown near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building near Republic Square, President Nasheed along with MPs Mariya Ahmed Didi and ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik took refuge in a shop and were dragged out by riot police.

The new footage shows President Nasheed surrounded and manhandled by the Specialist Operations (SO) officers before he manages to wriggle free and run. According to media reports on February 8, Nasheed rejoined supporters at the area and was taken to safety.

MP Yameen addressing crowd

MP Gasim addressing crowd

“MNBC has been taken under control”

President Nasheed exits MNDF headquarters

President Nasheed walks to Muleeage after resignation

Riyaz carrying resignation letter

Mutinying police and army officers calling for president’s resignation

Nasheed escapes SO officers on February 8, 2012

Nasheed rejoins supporters

Nazim demands “unconditional resignation” of President Nasheed