Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said that it will propose removing Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed from the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) after the nominee of former President Mohamed Nasheed publicly criticised the commission’s draft report yesterday.
Speaking at press conference today, Fonadhoo MP and PPM interim council member, Abdul Raheem Abdulla, condemned Saeed’s remarks as “a serious betrayal of the people and the government” and said that the party planned to send a letter to President Mohamed Waheed requesting his “immediate removal”.
“We believe that it is completely unacceptable for a person on such a commission to give interviews publicly about the report before the final outcome or report is released,” he said.
In a brief statement to media outside Muleeage yesterday, Saeed said that the draft report presented to the commission by co-chair G P Selvam, a retired Singaporean judge, “somewhat refutes or denies what we Maldivians saw and experienced” on February 7, when former President Nasheed resigned after elements of the police and army assaulted civilians, ransacked MDP Haruge (meeting hall) and mutinied at the Republic Square.
“February 7, 2012 was a day that shocked Maldivians – a day when the Maldivian government was changed in a sudden confusion. Now, however, the report that Judge Selvam has written and brought is a draft that somewhat refutes or denies what we Maldivians saw and experienced – or a draft that somewhat confuses things, the way it is now,” Saeed explained.
“While this is happening, for me to stay here, at Muleeage, would I believe be a betrayal of my country and the Maldivian people. I see the draft report as having been written without considering the witness testimony of many, many people to CNI as well as the many scenes we saw.”
Saeed added that he would continue efforts to “include my concerns” in the final report.
In the wake of Saeed’s media statement, government spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza argued in local media that Saeed had violated the agreement with the Commonwealth concerning the reconstituted CNI.
“The Commonwealth agreement Nasheed signed states that a Singaporean Judge will reside in CNI. No one must interfere with the work of the commission and also states that everyone must accept the findings of the commission. But the representative from Nasheed sharing the draft report with the public is an indication that Nasheed does not respect any agreement,” Abbas was quoted as saying in newspaper Haveeru.
Meanwhile, speaking at a PPM rally Saturday night, former President Gayoom assured supporters that there was “no cause for concern” over the CNI outcome.
CNI members were “reputable people with high integrity,” Gayoom said, adding that the report would not contain “anything but the truth.”
However, immediately after giving a statement to CNI on July 30, Gayoom had said he would not accept that Nasheed’s government was toppled in a coup d’etat even if the commission came to that conclusion.
The first three-member CNI panel was appointed by President Mohamed Waheed to investigate the circumstances that brought him to office with former President Gayoom’s one-time Defence Minister, Ismail Shafeeu, serving as chair.
Facing pressure from the Commonwealth and civil society NGOs regarding the commission’s lack of independence and impartiality, the government eventually agreed to reform the CNI to include a retired Singaporean judge and a nominee from Nasheed.
Nasheed’s representative, Saeed, who was formerly both Principal of ‘Ahmadiyya School’ and Deputy Principal of the British College of Sri Lanka was finally accepted after the government of President Waheed rejected almost 11 names Nasheed proposed to the commission.
In a statement welcoming the government’s acceptance of Nasheed’s nomination of Saeed, Commonwealth Special Envoy to Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon expressed satisfaction with “the resolution on the issue of Mr Nasheed’s nominee.”
“Now that we have agreement on the reconstituted Commission, I look forward to it starting its work and carrying out its important mandate. I hope also that with its enhanced terms of reference and revised composition, the Commission will be a more broadly acceptable mechanism and will allow the country to move forward,” the statement read.
Following Saeed’s criticism of the draft report, the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) convened an emergency meeting of the party’s National Council and passed a resolution expressing concern in line with Saeed’s reservations.
The resolution stated that the CNI report must be compiled in accordance with the agreement signed between the government and the Commonwealth, which stipulated that instead of relying solely on witness statements, the commission would also accept photos, videos, audios, personal bank statements and phone recordings as evidence.
However, at a press conference on August 2, commission members revealed “difficulties in getting the phone recordings” from the Telecommunications Authority of Maldives (TAM).
Meanwhile, according to local media reports, retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi attended the commission at 4:30pm yesterday to provide his statement on February 7, two days before the final report is due to be shared with the authorities.
Didi, who resigned in July, was the Male’ Area Commander of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) at the time of President Nasheed’s resignation.
Prior to attending the commission, Didi told private broadcaster Raajje TV that he had been awaiting an invitation to testify before CNI.
While he did not wish to discuss the events leading up to President Nasheed’s resignation, Didi said “I know how it happened very well. I don’t think there would be any other officer who would know what happened in Male’ on the 6th and 7th [of February] better than I. But I am not ready to share it with the media.”