Dr Waheed “open” to independent inquiry into change of government

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said he would be open to an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the rapid change of government on Tuesday.

The UK this morning joined Germany in calling for Dr Waheed’s government to “consolidate its legitimacy” with an “independent inquiry” into what former President Mohamed Nasheed and his party contends was a coup d’état.

“I have heard calls for an independent inquiry into the events that preceded my assumption of the presidency. I am open to those suggests – there is no problem with it. I will be completely impartial in any independent investigation,” Dr Waheed said.

“I don’t know the details, or how it can or should be done. I will consult legal advice as soon as we have an attorney general in place. I am sure we will be able to satisfy the call from Britain and Germany.”

Regarding the safety of foreign investments in the Maldives in the wake of political instability, Dr Waheed condemned the destruction of police and public property.

“I believe we have to all work together to ensure this. If you have some parties going around torching and destroying places, it is not going to happen. I call for those kind of activities to cease,” he said.

“I can guarantee that foreign investment in the Maldives is safe. We will not target anybody for political reasons. If there are any reasons for concern over investment, of course any steps that need to be taken will be taken.”

Dr Waheed said he would not approached the US$400 million airport investment by Indian Infrastructure giant GMR “from a political perspective.”

“It is not our intention to harm GMR. Our objective will be to resolve concerns of the public [regarding the company],” he said.

During the press conference Dr Waheed also vowed that the previous government’s social protection programs, including the Aasandha universal health insurance, allowances for single mothers, pensions and other programmes will continue.

Dr Waheed said the new government would also hand out subsidies to fishermen and agricultural workers “to the best of our financial capacity.”

“I have previously commented on the issue of civil servant’s salaries. I will, with the counsel of my government, make it a priority to reinstate them,” Dr Waheed said.

Dr Waheed also spoke about reforming cabinet and said he wanted it to “represent all major political parties.”

Current cabinet positions allocated include Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel – the former Justice Minister under Gayoom – and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, a former army colonel. Dr Waheed also appointed former Abdulla Riyaz Police Commissioner, who was previously dismissed from the position of Assistant Police Commissioner under Nasheed’s government.

“It’s going swiftly. Day after tomorrow, I will announce cabinet positions,” Dr Waheed said. “I hope MDP will also be part of my cabinet, and I will keep posts vacant for them. I don’t intend to give a cabinet post to anyone in my party.”

He said he had asked political parties not to talk to him about the appointment of a vice president.

“I don’t want the post to be politicised. I want the person to be respected by the public and experienced, and to be able to lend meaningful assistance to me in conducting my work. I implore all of you not to pressure me on the appointment,” he said.