Former Inquiry Commission’s release of timeline “blatant attempt to conceal truth by pre-empting impartial inquiry”: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned the former three-member Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) after it yesterday released a ‘timeline of events’, calling it a “blatant attempt to conceal the truth by pre-empting an impartial inquiry.”

The initial three-member panel was appointed by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the controversial circumstances that brought him to power. It was boycotted by the ousted MDP, who contended that its members had been appointed by those it was accusing, and it was not credible or impartial.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and civil society groups concurred, and pressured the government to reconstitute the commission to include a nominee representing former President Mohamed Nasheed, a retired foreign judge, and UN and Commonwealth monitors. Earlier this week the government announced it had accepted the 13th nominee proposed by Nasheed, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.

However yesterday the three-member panel released a 282-point ‘timeline of events’, for the stated purpose of “asking for public opinion”.

“It is unacceptable that a committee that has been discredited by the civil society, members of the public and the international community should proceed to make public its findings, ahead of the commencement of the work of a restructured commission,” said MDP’s Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, in a statement on Thursday.

“It is incomplete, biased and reveals the malicious intent of the Commission,” he said, adding that neither former President Nasheed nor any MDP member had given testimony to the commission before it released its findings.

The agreement for a restructured commission was brokered by the Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald Mackinnon, “just two days ago”, Ghafoor noted, a move praised in public statements by the UN, Commonwealth and the UK Foreign Office at the time.

“The publication of the findings of the commission is a blatant attempt by the government to pervert the course of justice. This is in flagrant disregard for the appeals of the international community, including the CMAG, which had demanded that the composition of the Committee be changed to make it impartial, independent, credible and more broadly acceptable,” Ghafoor said.

“This conduct by the current Commission is further confirmation that the real mandate of this Commission is to conceal the truth and absolve the perpetrators of the coup from guilt.”

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the CNI was entitled to ask for public support, “and the government has no views about it, as the commission is independent.”

“We see no wrong-doing in [the commission] requesting public support,” Riza told Minivan News. “The government’s view is that the inquiry is fully independent and that it can ask for help where it wishes.”

Asked whether canvassing public opinion was in the commission’s mandate when it was set up, Riza stated that the commission had a mandate to “find the facts from January 14 to February 7”.

At to whether the timeline was relevant, given that the reconstituted commission would presumably be starting from scratch, Riza said “it is up to the commission to determine that.”

Attorney General Azima Shukoor meanwhile today told local media that administrative work had begun to formulate the new CNI.
Shukoor told local newspaper Haveeru that the new commission needed to be established by a new presidential decree, which was currently being drafted in time for President Mohamed Waheed’s return from the UK.
She also said that work is being carried out drafting the procedures and principles of the commission, as well as the code of conduct for the commission members with advice of senior members of the commission. Shukoor also said that the three-member panel had taken not wage or allowances for the work they had done  up until now.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from the Commonwealth at time of press.