Majlis committees approve VP and cabinet, will assess ongoing coup investigations

Majlis committees have approved President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s cabinet and vice president nominee – resort owner Waheed Deen – and have decided to assess independent institutions’ ongoing investigations into the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

The executive oversight committee will now submit cabinet and VP nominees to the floor for final approval. MPs of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voted against the move.

The MDP refuses to recognise Dr Waheed’s administration, alleging former VP Waheed deposed the party’s Mohamed Nasheed through a coup d’état.  The MDP claims it continues to be the legitimate party representing the government in Majlis.

The MDP holds 32 of the 77 Majlis seats, and commands half of the seats in all parliamentary committees except the executive oversight committee.

MDP spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor said the nominees were approved at committee stage because parties allied with Dr Waheed control a majority in the executive oversight committee. “As the party representing the government in parliament, we believed the opposition must have majority seats in that committee.”

Meanwhile, the Independent Institutions Oversight Committee has decided to assess the extent to which the state’s independent institutions are fulfilling their mandates in investigating the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power on February 7.

The Human Rights Commission (HRCM) and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) have previously told Minivan News they will not investigate the transfer of power, claiming the matter is out of their mandates.

Deputy chair of Independent Institution Oversight Committee and MDP MP Ahmed Sameer said the MDP wants to summon the HRCM and PIC to evaluate ongoing investigations into the alleged coup d’état.

The HRCM and PIC told Minivan News that the commissions will respectively investigate human rights violations and police conduct on February 7, but not the circumstances of the transfer of power.

“The president is a citizen. He says he was deposed in a coup. His rights have been violated. Moreover, citizen’s right to elect government has been violated. So I do not understand how the HRCM and PIC can claim this matter is out of their mandates,” said Sameer.

“The HRCM and the PIC and the Prosecutor General have to take the initiative in this investigation. Especially the PG, because Article 223 of the constitution mandates the PG to oversee legality of preliminary inquiries and investigations into criminal activity and to uphold the constitutional order, the law, and the rights and freedoms of all citizens,” Sameer added.

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs opposed the committee’s move to assess the commission’s investigation into events on February 7, claiming the committee must also look into whether commissions were also investigating the events preceding the transfer of power.

The DRP and other political parties allied with Dr Waheed say the police and military mutiny on February 7 in fact upheld the constitution. They allege Nasheed’s administration orders to arrest Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January were unconstitutional.

Chair of the Independent Institutions Oversight Committee Mohamed Nasheed has asked the two parties to submit proposals next week on how to proceed with the assessment.

“We will decide on how to proceed after merging the two proposals,” Independent MP Nasheed said.

Nasheed also said he believed an independent and impartial investigation into the transfer of power must take place, and was “more pertinent” than MDP’s call for early general elections.

“I was first to call for a credible, open, transparent investigation with international oversight. Even if early elections are held, and a president is elected democratically, questions will remain unanswered regarding the transfer of power,” he said.

The Majlis was a possible avenue for an independent investigation, Nasheed said. “The Majlis is in a position to empanel MPs or outsiders, experts to get the process going. The Majlis could either submit a resolution to create a committee of MPs to look into the matter or enact a law to delegate authority to an outside panel to conduct investigations.”

However, no MP has yet made a move to instigate the process through Majlis, Nasheed said.