Police Integrity Commission to investigate Commissioner Riyaz’s tweet

The Police Integrity Commisson (PIC) has confirmed that it is investigating a tweet posted by Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz.

Riyaz yesterday posted a letter he claimed to have been sent, urging the police to “say no” to former President Mohamed Nasheed on September 7, just as they had on February 7 – an event the author described as a “jihad”.

The letter, addressed to the entire police force, praised it for its “patience” in the face of Nasheed’s “cunning” and “malicious” actions during his presidency.

Whilst not responding to inquiries from Minivan News today, Riyaz is reported to have told local media that he had no specific intentions in mind when re-posting the letter.

Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek today told Minivan News that his office had received a complaint regarding the letter, and had opted to forward the issue to the PIC.

When asked about his recommendations regarding the social media activities of public officials in the run-up to the presidential election, Thowfeek urged restraint on the part of members of all independent commissions – including the Elections Commission – the police, and the MNDF

“It is advised to be as neutral as possible – even on Facebook – so there will be nothing to complain about,” he added.

EC Legal Director Haneefa Khalid currently facing an internal investigation after the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) accused her of posting  “politicised” tweets.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed told local journalists yesterday that he imagined the tweet had been posted in the commissioner’s personal capacity. When pressed on the appropriateness of such a post, Waheed said that he could not comment further without more information.

Whilst President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad told Minivan News today that he was not personally aware of the Riyaz tweet, he said the government would “express concern” over any such post which threatened free and fair elections.

“We caution everyone in the country to follow election guidelines and not to play into the hands of anyone looking to undermine free and fair voting. Everyone must exercise judgement,” he added.

Commissioner Riyaz last month posted an interview on the police service website maintaining that the organisation would refuse to follow any orders deemed unconstitutional.

“Whichever individual becomes president tomorrow can no longer just change the constitution, the existing law. That individual, holding the presidency, can only bring such big changes with a parliamentary majority,” said Riyaz.

February’s controversial transfer of power came after units of the police refused to obey former President’s Nasheed’s orders, with Nasheed resigning from office soon after.

Days earlier, Nasheed had ordered the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed after the latter had blocked investigations into his own misconduct.

Nasheed’s decision was later described as in breach of the constitution by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM).

Riyaz was appointed commissioner immediately after Nasheed’s resignation, which Nasheed and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) would later claim was a police coup.

The allegations were later rejected by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that ruled that there had been “no coup, no duress and no mutiny”, while also calling for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the country’s security forces following the transfer.