Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s nominee to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, has resigned after questioning the integrity and purpose of the commission.
In a brief statement to media around 6.30pm today (August 29), Saeed explained that he chose to resign in protest of CNI’s final report excluding testimony from key witnesses as well as photo, audio and video evidence.
Saeed said he had believed the commission would “find out the truth” after considering all the evidence.
“I thought that the commission would also include as recommendations measures that can be taken to ensure that such a unique coup cannot be brought about again in the Maldives,” he said. “And that [the report] would identify those who committed criminal acts and make a decision on taking action against them after consideration.”
“Up until today, I worked to achieve this. However when none of these purposes can be fulfilled, I don’t believe there is any use of remaining as a member of the commission. And since this is a task I undertook with no pay as a national service, and because I do not want to be involved in something that will not cool the passions of the people, I have resigned as a member of CoNI moments ago,” Saeed said.
Pressed by reporters, Saeed declined to comment further or reveal the conclusions of the report, saying he would speak once it was made public tomorrow.
Speaking at Usfasgandu at 5:00pm today, where supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have begun gathering, Nasheed called on the public to take to the steet and “topple the government tonight” as there was “no other choice but direct action.”
Nasheed explained that he advocated against overthrowing the government through street protests because he believed an independent and impartial investigation would lead to an early election.
Nasheed said the CNI report could not “deny what I experienced and saw with my own eyes” on February 7, when he resigned after elements of police and the army mutinied at the Republic Square.
“I am ready to face any traitor police or army officer that confronts me,” Nasheed said. “And I urge all of you to do the same, confront them and change this country’s government tonight.”
The former president has also reiterated his calls for “national police and military officers” to “come out and change this country’s government from the street.”
Nasheed argued that by concluding that the transfer of power on February 7 was neither a coup d’etat nor the result of unlawful activities, the CNI was legitimising overthrowing the government and he was “ready to change the government the same way tonight.”
Minivan News will be bringing live updates of the situation as it develops.
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7:45pm – Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has told Minivan News that he does not expect “responsible leaders to encourage violence in country”.
“It it time for those active in politics to advise others to be calm,” he said.
“In a small country like ours, we do not want violence like in other parts of the world. Law enforcement will deal with demonstrations in a responsible manner in line with human rights and the constitution.”
7:54pm – Amidst increased tensions in the capital this evening, the Maldives Police Service has said it will be continuing to operate “random searches” on the capital’s street and its surrounding waters. The claims were made as authorities today warned the public against creating “unrest” or gathering near areas where violent clashes were taking place.
Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News this evening that the searches carried out today formed part of a special operation launched earlier this week.
At time of press, Haneef confirmed that two vessels had been searched by officers. The vessels were later cleared to proceed to their respective destinations.
As of midday, official police figures claimed searches had been conducted in 17 different locations over a 24 hour period on 99 people. As part of this focus, 188 people have been questioned, 258 vehicles have undergone checks, while eight people have been taken into custody, police confirmed.
Haneef said that he did not have further updates on these figures at time of press. However, he added that figures would be available on the Maldives Police Service website as they were compiled.
7:56pm – Police Superintendent Abdullah Nawaz has been quoted in local media today as having said that any protests conducted following the release of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report will be “broken up without warning, if violence breaks out.”
Sun Online reported that Nawaz had said peaceful protests would be allowed as written in the national constitution, though protesters would not be able to obstruct police in their duties or break through barricades.
“We have received information of plans to create violence following the CNI’s report, especially in Male’. We urge the public to refrain from such activities, and would like to inform that such activities will not be tolerated by the Maldives Police Service,” he was quoted as saying.
8:09pm – The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Elections Commission (EC) have both today released statements calling for peaceful reconciliation following the scheduled publication of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).
The statement issued by HRCM has stressed the importance of citizens respecting each others’ human rights, while also emphasising the need to solve issues through discussions and to not allow unrest to take place in any form.
Meanwhile, the EC has called on all political leaders to refrain from any actions that might incite any form of unrest in the country.
Local NGO Transparency Maldives has also released a press statement calling on all stakeholders to ensure that the CNI is allowed to work with full independence.
While calling on state institutions to maintain integrity and public trust, the NGO has also asks all stakeholders involved in the current political process to “show restraint” and calm so that the political situation does not further deteriorate.
8:22pm – MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has told Minivan News that opposition demonstrations have started at 8:00pm this evening at the Usfasgandu area in Male’. The demonstration is expected to include a march around the capital.
“The message is simple. We are appealing to security forces to remove the coup-government, the Defence Minister and the Commissioner of Police,” Ghafoor added.
When asked if former President Nasheed would lead the march, Ghafoor replied; “He has been on national radio this evening and told his supporters ‘If you are ready, I am ready’.”
9:22pm – The government has claimed that UN and Commonwealth observers placed on the CNI have today told President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan that there had been “no issues” with the work of the commission, according to local Media.
Newspaper Haveeru quoted President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza as saying that international observers had said the commission was of “internationally accepted” standards as its work was concluded.
The report added that President Waheed had been thanked for the support provided to the CNI investigation. Abbas contended that the observers noted that similar investigations were “seldom” as supported by governments in other parts of the world, reported Haveeru.
Both Abbas and President’s Office Media Secretary Masood were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
9:50pm – Former President Nasheed is presently addressing a large number of MDP supporters as the party’s march around the capital is halted by a military roadblock near to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) base on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, reports Minivan News’ Daniel Bosley.
10:03pm – Minivan News has observed both police and military officers officers gathered in front of protesters. “Police officers wearing gas masks are lining up in front of the recently arrived soldiers,” Daniel Bosley observed.
10:16pm – Protesters are witnessed becoming increasingly animated and jeering police. Some officers are seen chanting back in response, Minivan News observes.
10:20pm – Violent clashes have started with protesters hitting out at the shields of military officers.
10:28pm – Minivan News’ Daniel Bosley observes security forces with boxes marked ‘tear smoke munitions’. Military officers are meanwhile holding their lines.
10:34pm – An estimated 300 to 400 people remain at the front lines of the protests.
10:40pm – Police have told crowds that the protests will be dispersed without any further warning, Minivan News observes.
10:52pm – A large number of protesters are observed making their way back to Usfasgandu area, observes Daniel Bosley. Police are moving back down Boduthakurufaanu Magu in similar direction behind demonstrators.
11:07pm – A large number of protesters have now returned to Usfasgandu area.
11:23pm – Police have confirmed an arrest has been made of an individual accused of trying to force their way through police barricades.
11:55pm – Around 10:45pm, Minivan News observed a man emerge from the front line of the protest near the Maafanu stadium holding his head. A photo from the MDP youth group ‘Yellow Force’ later surfaced on social media.
After protesters turned back to head toward Usfasgandu, Minivan News also observed Special Operations (SO) officers with their faces covered with balaclavas, marching behind the MDP supporters and singing “for the sacred religion of Islam and the nation.”
An elderly man holding an MDP flag was also taken into custody near Usfasgadu.
12:00am – Speaking at the Usfasgadu rally, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ says the party will submit evidence to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which will consider the CNI report.
Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed meanwhile tweeted earlier in the day: “Without Saeed’s consent, CONI report is not worth the paper it is written on! CMAG will reject it!”
12:18am – MDP rally closes with a speech by MP Mohamed Nazim. The party plans to hold a large gathering tomorrow to coincide with the release of the CNI report.