Government claims “remarkable success” in democracy, good governance and rule of law

The President’s Office has claimed the government has achieved “remarkable success” during its first year in power.

February 7, 2013, marked the one year anniversary of the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, following his controversial ascension to power.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed suddenly resigned on February 7 last year, following 22 days of continuous anti-government protests sparked after the Chief Judge of Criminal Court was placed under military detention.  The demonstrations were later backed by mutinying sections of the police and military.

Within a few hours following the chaos, Nasheed’s then Vice President Waheed – to whom the opposition had pledged their allegiance weeks before – assumed power and formed a “unity government” with the protesting politicians.

In a publication (Dhivehi) released on the President’s Office website last Thursday, under the title ‘One year for the National Unity Government’, the office highlighted its achievements in 10 different areas. These included: democracy and good governance, upholding of law, building a safe society, economic development, employment opportunities, education, health, fight against drugs, transport system and housing development.

Democracy and good governance

Under democracy and good governance, the President’s office claimed that the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI)’s report on the transfer of power had defeated the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s claims challenging the legitimacy of the government.

Following the transfer of power, the opposition MDP had claimed that former President Nasheed’s government was toppled in a bloodless coup d’état and that his resignation was obtained under duress.

The CNI was formed to look into the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power.  The Commonwealth-led national inquiry panel in its report concluded that the transfer of power that took place on February 7, 2012 was legitimate.

“A national unity government was formed, a roadmap of how the government would be run was established on February 16, 2012, and successfully ran the government for one year,” the pamphlet stated.

However, during Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee (EOC)’s reviewing of the CNI report, senior police and military officials during Nasheed’s administration – including former Chief of Defense Force retired Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel and former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh – disputed that their evidence was included in the report, and told the parliamentary committee that Nasheed had no choice but to resign, suggesting that his resignation was obtained under duress.

“I fully believe that President [Nasheed] resigned under duress,” Faseeh told the committee at the time.

Recalling the events, former Commissioner Faseeh told the committee he had done everything he could to control the situation but said there came a point when the officers had openly mutinied and disobeyed his orders.

The former military intelligence head also alleged that Nasheed’s resignation and transfer of power involved unlawful elements and had all the hallmarks of a coup d’état.

“Academically speaking, the events on February 7 fulfilled all the essentials of a coup. It involved all the features of a coup that are widely accepted around the world. Some of the elements take place before the toppling of a president. Others take place spontaneously,” Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam said. He was subsequently suspended.

President Waheed’s former Human Rights Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, in her personal memoir on the controversial transfer of power, alleged that Waheed had a role in the controversial toppling of Nasheed.  She also claimed that the then vice-president had prior knowledge of what would possibly happen in February.

Battle against CMAG

The President’s Office in the publication also detailed the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to remove “the Maldives from its formal agenda” after it was put there following the controversial transfer of power.

In September 2012, following the findings of the CNI, the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm removed the Maldives from its formal agenda and placed it under “Matters of Interest to CMAG”.

The government also claimed it had reduced the number of political appointees below that of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration, which resulted in savings of MVR 2 million (US$ 129,701.68) per month.

“Efforts were carried out to broaden the role of the civil service and strengthen the functionality of the government,” it stated.

“To close down all doors to corruption, [the government] for the first time in history, established and enacted a code of conduct for political appointees during their course of employment,” it added.

Under democracy and good governance, the publication also highlighted that the Maldives had won the position of vice chairmanship of United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council and the vice chairmanship of the annual assembly of International Renewable Energy Institute (IREI), to be held this year.

Upholding of law

The government highlighted its success on upholding the rule law, claimed that it had established a free state broadcasting service by handing over Television Maldives (TVM) and Voice of Maldives (VOM) radio station to the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) – formerly the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) one and Raajje Radio – thereby running the government without a government-funded media.

Video footage taken during the storming of MNBC on February 7,2012 revealed that a mutinying police officer used a firearm to break down the gates of the station headquarters in capital Male’,  allowing dozens of police and military forces (MNDF) as well as some civilians in plain clothes to forcefully take over the station – approximately two hours before former president Mohamed Nasheed resigned from office.

The publication also stated that the government had abolished the National Administration Offices and had transferred its responsibilities to the local councils.

“The lands that were withheld by the central government were given to local councils in a transparent and responsible manner,” it read.

In July 2012, President Waheed’s government announced that it would be taking over “some responsibilities” assigned to the elected Male’ City Council (MCC).

A press statement released by the President’s Office at the time said the decision had been taken on the advice of cabinet to take back some services that are currently provided by the MCC.

The statement read: “Despite the legal system of the country [dictating] that several services given from the government to the public are delegated to local councils under the Decentralization Act, the decision of the President with the consultation of the cabinet, comes at a time where several of these local councils are failing to provide these services”.

Establishing a peaceful society

The government, under the heading, “establishing of a peaceful society”, claimed it had eradicated violence and established law and order within society.

“License given to cafes, shops and boutiques to operate 24 hours a day were revoked and more police were added to patrol duty which brought down crime rate,” the report claimed.

It also claimed that 60 police stations carried out more than 1000 operations to seek out law breakers, and during the course 215 out of 437 prisoners released by the former government’s rehabilitation and training program “Second Chance” were arrested at crime scenes and sent back to jail.

Despite these claims, the year 2012 recorded a significant rise in murder cases including a veteran lawyer and a member of parliament.

Murders in 2012 included: Member of Parliament Dr Afrasheem Ali murdered at his residence, lawyer Ahmed Najeeb found murdered and mutilated in a house, Lance Corporal Adam Haleem murdered while on his way to duty, Hassan Aboobakuru, 65 years, murdered in Manafaru Island, Abdulla Muheeth  mistakenly killed by a gang, 16 year old  Mohamed Arham found murdered inside the park behind Kulliyathul Dhirasathul Islamiyya, and a Bangladeshi expatriate worker found murdered in a building in Male.

“Prison space was increased,” the government said, adding “No prisoner was pardoned as per the power vested in the president under the Clemency Act.”

Presidents Office Spokespersons Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeq and Masood Imad were not responding at time of press.