Elections Commission looking into MDP’s revolution calls

The Elections Commission (EC) has confirmed it is investigating calls made by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) earlier this month to try and overthrow the current government through an ‘Ingilaab’ (revolution).

Former President Mohamed Nasheed on December 11 called for a “revolution” to overthrow the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, claiming it is the only way to have a government that is “by the people”.

The motion was later passed the same day by the National Council of the MDP at Kulhudhuhfushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll.

Vice President of the Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz stated today that the commission had received a complaint concerning the MDP’s motion, and hence had begun looking into the matter.

“Our in-house legal team is working along with an external firm of lawyers who sometimes provide legal advice to our commission. The commissioners will be discussing the matter only when the legal team finishes their review,” he said.

Fayaz further added that he did not know when the commission would be able to come to a decision on the matter, saying it all depended on how fast the legal team manages to review the matter.

Fayaz said that the legal team would need to review the definition of what an ‘Ingilaab’ or revolution is, and what the constitution and accompanying laws and regulations stated on the matter before deciding whether or not action needed to be taken against MDP.

“We cannot comment on what the outcome may be before the legal review is completed. We don’t even know yet what action, if any, will have to be taken against the MDP,” Fayaz said.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor defined ‘Ingilaab’ as bringing about a change. He declined from commenting on the complaint currently being looked at by the EC.

The complaint is reported to have been registered with the EC earlier this month by Ibrahim Manik of Henveiru Finifenmaage Aage.  Manik was reported to have requested at the time that action be taken against the MDP’s plans for a revolution “at the earliest”.

“Since my mind believes that the MDP National Council’s decision to topple the government through a revolution may weaken the country politically, socially, economically and in the area of military defences, and the country may be faced with an unrecoverable loss, I am pleading with your commission with respect, love and affection to take necessary action against this without the slightest delay,” local media reports Manik to have said in his letter to the EC.

Meanwhile, former President and interim President of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has previously labelled the MDP’s resolution to bring about a revolution as a “criminal offence.”

Gayoom further said at the time that MDP’s announcement to commit the offence must be met with the due penalty, adding that the idea to orchestrate a revolution could not be entertained, stating: “It is an offence to even speak of such a thing.”


Committee to probe 2003 Maafushi Jail shooting

A second investigation of the 2003 Maafushi Jail shooting has been launched by a special committee appointed by President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet.

The committee includes Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam, Attorney General (AG) Abdulla Muiz and Defence Minister Thalhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaan, and will investigate the incident that took place on September 20, 2003 – a watershed moment following the death in custody of Evan Naseem that led to street riots, the declaration of a state of emergency, and ultimately, the introduction of multi-party democracy and the eventual ousting of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

An investigation was previously conducted by a special commission under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The censored results were published in January 2004, and 12 prison guards were sentenced to death. Captain Adam Mohamed, the commanding official charged with ordering the shootings, was granted clemency by Gayoom. Subsequently, the sentence of the prison guards was commuted to 25 years in jail.

In June 2011, the case was re-opened and three of the former prison guards, who were living at large, were sent back to jail.

State Home Minister Mohamed Naeem previously told Minivan News that he regretted sending the convicted men back to prison after a long period without clear legal action.

“If [the former administration] had not freed them from prison, by now they would have served most of their sentence and could have even possibly applied for clemency,” said Naeem.

However, he did say that the action of the former administration had not only violated the rights of the convicted, but also those of the victims.

“When the victims who survived that time see these convicted people roaming around the streets, how do they feel? It is unfair for them,” he said at the time.

An individual who was imprisoned at Maafushi jail at the time of Evan Naseem’s death and the prison shootings spoke to Minivan News about the renewed investigation.

“I think they need to find out who ordered the torture of Evan Naseem–was it the highest ranking officer, or a lower officer? This has been delayed too long now. We have to have proper justice to move ahead,” he said.

The source added that a lot of information surrounding the incident had been censored, and said he wasn’t sure that “the right people” had been sent back to prison.

“I think it is wrong for the one who complied with the order to take the punishment. It should be the one who gave the order,” he said.

Former President Gayoom at the time was also Minister of Defence and National Security.

The former Maafushi prison guards involved in the shootings were recently re-arrested for the 2003 event. The source said several senior prison officials had informed him at the time that the order to shoot on September 20 had come from the top.

The shooting occurred after inmates broke out of their cells “to learn the details of fellow Evan Naseem’s death”, the source said.

The source told Minivan News that he could hear people being tortured from his cell, and that he had also heard these sounds on the night that Naseem died. His own cell was secure at the time of the riot.

“This army man was controlling us, and he said it was nothing. But we knew some things were happening. I knew, because I saw people jumping off the wall from my cell.

“When they opened the door to the block to bring the breakfast things we kept asking the guards what was happening but they would tell us nothing. Finally, we asked the guards to please open the gate so we could see, and at that time we saw a lot of people lined up on the beach in handcuffs. By the evening the army came and took control of things. Then, an inmate said ‘let’s burn this place down!’, but I said, ‘No, let’s work to get free. We are not going to burn the prison.’ I told him not to do anything, but he said ‘Let’s use [force].’ I said, ‘Let’s negotiate.’  So we negotiated.”

Following the shooting, 19 inmates and one officer were reported injured, and three inmates were reported dead. 15 of the 20 persons wounded had been shot above the knee.

An English translation of the initial investigation, provided by the Dhivehi Observer on January 24 2004, described the prison break as “not an emergency situation,” and determined that the use of weapons against the inmates was “neither a proportionate response nor a reasonable means of control.”

The report, which was filed by the former administration’s special commission, further stated that inmates were partially excused for the alleged riot “on account of the fact that they were acting on deep grief and frustration and did not appear to intend further harm [other] than demanding an investigation into Naseem’s death.”

Naseem “died due to grievous hurt caused to him by some personnel of Maafushi Jail Security System,” stated the report. The report further notes that inmates at Maafushi Jail had requested to meet with a security officer from the Department of Corrections several times after learning of Naseem’s death. Captain Adam Mohamed was assigned to this meeting, but chose to ignore it; he was the captain that the inmates confronted with their questions during the outbreak. The investigation report states that the captain “did not offer any reasonable response to those questions.”

CCTV recordings of the prison’s Operations Room and the block in which the initial outbreak took place had not been preserved for the investigation, and no Event Log Book had been used by officials, the report claimed.


MDP government misleads the public and lacks sincerity: DRP leader Thasmeen

The current MDP administration misleads the people and lacks sincerity, said DRP MP and leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali at a public DRP meeting at the Artificial Beach in Male. The previous administration was the exact opposite and did not mislead the public and was sincere and cared more for the people, Thasmeen said.

After almost two years in office, the MDP government had failed to fulfil any of its electoral pledges, the DRP leader said, and he listed the broken pledges – higher electricity tariffs, reductions to civil servants pay, increases in the cost of living, and reduced job opportunities.

Thasmeen said the current government is very propagandist, and its most recent effort was to discredit DRP’s honorary leader Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom by labelling him as corrupt. Thasmeen defended his former boss as a very sincere and honest man.

At the meeting, Ali Waheed, DRP’s deputy leader, said that former President Maumoon ruled the country for 30 years with sincerity, and the DRP will take legal action against anyone who says otherwise. The meeting also condemned the article by the New York Times alleging corruption of US$400 million during the previous administration and also criticised Miadhu Daily for carrying the story in the local media.

Ibrahim Shareef, another deputy leader of the party, criticised Ahmed Abdulla, CEO of Miadhu Daily, and he said the MDP administration was dictatorial.