CMAG delays decision on Maldives

Following its teleconference yesterday, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has delayed its decision on the Maldives’ potential removal from its investigative agenda until its next meeting on September 28.

Yesterday’s meeting was attended by all member countries, as well as the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma and Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon, who had visited country earlier this week.

President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad expressed confidence that the country would be taken off the agenda at the next meeting, saying that this move had been supported by all but one of those present for the teleconference.

“We have given in to all their demands. CMAG has been so much a part of our lives that we wanted to get out of it,” said Masood.

However, former Foreign Minister and current UN Special Rapporteur to Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed said that the Maldives’ removal from the agenda would be “a travesty”, given the government’s “reprehensible actions” following the CNI’s release.

“Things are not going well in the Maldives – the government is intent on persecuting Nasheed and the MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party)”, he added. “They seem hell bent on repressing the people.”

There have been strong calls from within the government for the country to be removed from the agenda after the Commonwealth’s approval of Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) which appeared to absolve government figures of any wrongdoing in the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed in February.

The release of the report was initially welcomed by a members of the international community, including, the EU, the United States, India, and the UN as well the Commonwealth itself.

“There was an expectation from the government that CMAG would rubber stamp the CNI report – this is far from realistic” said Shaheed, who suggested that these groups were welcoming the report’s release without necessarily welcoming the findings.

Observers representing the UN and the Commonwealth praised the independence and professionalism of the report.

CMAG placed the country on its formal agenda in February after it expressed its concerns over the precise nature of Nasheed’s resignation.

A member of CMAG itself, the Maldives was subsequently suspended from the group.

Local media yesterday reported that an emergency meeting of the cabinet had been called yesterday, although no details of the meeting had been revealed.

Today, Masood explained that the cabinet meeting was called simply to prepare for the CMAG’s anticipated decision.

“It is normal procedure to be prepared in this way, “ he explained.

Prominent members of the government, including State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, as well as Special Advisor to the President Dr Hassan Saeed have suggested that the Maldives may leave the Commonwealth should it not be removed from the CMAG agenda.

“I would now argue that if CMAG does not remove the Maldives from its agenda in its next teleconference on 11th of this month, we should end our relationship with the Commonwealth and look to other relationships that reflect modern realities of the world,” said Saeed in an article written for local newspaper Haveeru.

Dr Hassan was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, told Minivan News earlier this week that Commonwealth should refrain from dictating the country’s national priorities.

“We appreciate their engagement, but [the Commonwealth] should also recognise our need to move forward and allow us to find local solutions to local problems,” said Jameel

In a statement sent to CMAG in preparation for the teleconference, the government maintained that the Maldives should be removed from the agenda, and that it should not have been placed on it in the first place.

“There is simply no justification for keeping the Maldives on the [CMAG] agenda,” read the statement, which went on to list reasons in support of its removal.

The reasons given, other than the apparent exoneration of the government by the CNI report, included its commitment to investigate issues of police brutality, the atmosphere of relative calm currently prevailing in the capital, and the detrimental effect being on the CMAG agenda was having on tourism and foreign investment.

The statement did, however, make mention of the government’s interest in expanding cooperations with the Commonwealth, particularly along the lines of strengthening institutions and “cultivating democratic values in the society.”

Shaheed today insisted that there was ample scope for the country to be kept on the agenda, drawing attention to CMAG’s revised mandate of October 2011, which he noted was championed by Nasheed himself.

“The revised mandate is not so much a punishment for countries but a safeguard for the people,” he said.


“Too little, too late”: President’s Office dismisses chances of MDP coalition

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has decided not to include the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in his national unity government, his advisor Ahmed ‘Topi’ Thaufeeg has told local media.

“It is too little, too late”, said President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad, adding, “[the MDP] remain a viable opposition.”

Immediately after his accession to the presidency, Waheed announced that he would leave some cabinet posts vacant for the MDP.

However, feeling President Waheed to have taken power illegally, the MDP refused these overtures.

After the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) concluded that the transfer of power on February 7 did not amount to a coup, MDP Chairman ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik attended the newly-coined ‘Leader’s Dialogue’ meeting on Sunday.

Whilst local media had reported that Moosa requested a place for the MDP in the current government, Moosa himself told Minivan News yesterday that he had only asked for clarification on the MDPs position – whether it should be considered the ruling, or the opposition party.

Responding to this argument, Masood today said: “The point here is that the MDP fails to understand is that this is not a parliamentary system, it is a presidential system.”

This constitutional problem was also included in the observations of the CNI’s international observers.

“There are tensions within the Constitution itself with a Presidential system engrafted onto a Parliamentary system which will always be problematic,” commented Sir Bruce Robertson and Professor John Packer.

MDP Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, who described some of the observers comments as “mocking a young democracy”,  today said the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will discuss requesting a Supreme Court ruling on its role in the government.

“We don’t know who we are in government,” said Ghafoor.

“This is a sticky problem. The CNI’s assumptions are that the government has not changed, so it is the President’s prerogative to deliver on the MDP manifesto,” he continued.

President Waheed and his Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) joined the former coalition government, which included the MDP, the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Adhaalath Party, to win the 2008 elections.

The coalition, however, began to break up after only 21 days when the JP withdrew. The Adhaalath Party was the last part to withdraw from the coalition in September 2011.

Local media today reported the Adhaalath party as having publicly lauded Waheed’s decision.

Sun Online reported Deputy Leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ibrahim Shareef as saying that the MDP ought to be allowed into the government if it adapts its policies.

Ghafoor interpreted these comments as evidence that certain leaders are “jittery”: “They want to straighten this out”.

The issue of a constitution comprising elements of both presidential and parliamentary systems was discussed by Waheed his official visit to India in May.

“You know our constitution is pretty much a cut-and-paste constitution. We have elements of parliamentary system as well as presidential system,” Waheed told the diplomatic community in New Delhi.

“The presidency is very much fashioned after presidency in the United States, and the parliament functions as a parliamentary system like in the UK. So there are issues that have to be resolved around that,” he continued.

Ghafoor also drew comparisons with the US system, arguing that after the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon, his Vice-President and successor Gerald Ford did not reshuffle the executive.

Referring to the MDP’s purported requests to join the current government, Masood said, “If they are allowed to join the current government now – where is democracy?”

“We are one year away from elections where we can let the Maldivian people decide,” he added.


Government confirms CNI report release delayed by at least 24 hours

The Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report will not be released to authorities and former President Mohamed Nasheed for at least a further 24 hours, authorities in the Maldives have today confirmed.

The President’s Office has previously said that it anticipated receiving the report by today. However, speaking at the time of press, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad denied that the government had expected a completed copy of findings to be received today.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan agreed last month to extend the deadline by which the CNI must conclude its report into February’s transfer of power by August 30, 2012.  CNI Co-Chair – retired Singaporean Judge G P Selvam – had requested a deadline extension in order to conclude the report due to the hundreds of people wishing to provide information.

When contacted by Minivan News, a spokesperson for the CNI office confirmed that the final deadline to release the report would now be tomorrow, but declined to give a reason for the delay.

Earlier this week, former President Nasheed’s representative on the CNI panel, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, expressed concern over a draft report compiled by the commission’s co-chair Judge Selvam.  Saeed alleged that there were “significant gaps” in the report concerning certain evidence and statements that had been given to the commission during its investigation.

A statement released by the CNI today, said that no material obtained as part of its investigation had been lost or mislaid.

“All interviews, evidence and information received to the commission have been stored in a safe and secure manner. Hence this commission is quite certain that no material have been lost or mislaid,” the statement read, according to local newspaper Haveeru.  While the CNI has confirmed the authenticity of the statement, Minivan News has yet to see of copy of the document.

Among the stakeholders expecting to receive the CNI report today were the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which contends that its presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed was removed from office during the events of February 7 in a “coup d’etat”.

The validity of these allegations is at the centre of the CNI’s investigation.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that there had previously been “an understanding” that former President Nasheed was to have received the report between 9:00am and 12:00pm today, alongside authorities including the President’s Office, parliament and the Prosecutor General’s (PG’s) Office.  Ghafoor said that the party was now expecting to receive the report at the same time as the public tomorrow.

“It appears that [the CNI] have changed their minds and are releasing the report in one go,” he said.

According to Ghafoor, the decision to provide the report to key stakeholders like the government and parliament before a wider public release had been decided to allow time for the report to be reviewed by various state institutions and political parties.

“This would have helped, as they way it looks right now, it doesn’t seem the CNI will address Mr Saeed’s concerns. Over the last three days we have not heard from the CNI at all regarding issues such as whether they would include CCTV footage from the President’s Office building [on February 7],” he claimed. “This means we will not be able to fill the gaps in the report before they bring it out.”

In a statement released this week, the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, called on all “Maldivian stakeholders” to address the CNI’s findings in a calm and responsible manner.

“I look forward to the imminent completion of the work of the reconstituted Commission of National Inquiry and to its being able to agree on its report,” Mckinnon stated. “As we approach the release of that report, I would encourage all stakeholders to respect the commission’s findings, and to take time to reflect carefully on how to act upon them in a manner that maintains harmony in Maldivian society and helps strengthen democratic practice and institutions in the country.”

Responding to the statement, Ghafoor said he hoped the next 24 hours would be used by the CNI panel to try and find agreement on the report’s findings in light of Saaed’s concerns over the earlier the draft.

“[Commonwealth] Special Envoy Sir Donalod Mckinnnoon has this week talked about finding consensus on the findings,” he said. “However, if this consensus is not found between the commission’s members, then we would have to question if the CNI report was the report outlined in the Commonwealth’s recommendations.”

With the report now scheduled for release tomorrow, Andrew Cox, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Maldives said that social media reports claiming the CNI report would be launched from the organisation’s headquarters in Male’ were inaccurate.

“We understand that the CNI report will be directly delivered to the major actors concerned as per prior agreements,” Cox stated. “The report will not be released at the UN Building.”


CNI draft “embarrassing for the Commonwealth”: MDP spokesperson

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has hit out at the Commonwealth over the work of Singaporean Judge G.P. Selvam, whose initial draft report on the Committee of National Inquiry’s (CNI) findings was yesterday denounced by the opposition party.

The criticism, backed by an MDP resolution, was first raised by former President Nasheed’s representative on the CNI panel, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.

“I think it is embarrassing for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). This is a bad show – it is not worthy of such an institution,” said MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

After concerted pressure from the Commonwealth and the MDP to reform the CNI, Selvam – a retired Supreme Court Judge from Singapore – was installed as co-chair of the body charged with investigating the events surrounding former President Nasheed’s resignation on February 7.

The Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, released a statement today regarding the report’s scheduled publication on August 30.

“I look forward to the imminent completion of the work of the reconstituted Commission of National Inquiry and to its being able to agree on its report. As we approach the release of that report, I would encourage all stakeholders to respect the commission’s findings, and to take time to reflect carefully on how to act upon them in a manner that maintains harmony in Maldivian society and helps strengthen democratic practice and institutions in the country,” he said.

The changes to the commission also included the addition of a Nasheed nominee Saeed, who yesterday revealed his deep dissatisfaction with Selvam’s initial draft of the body’s report.

“The report that Judge Selvam has drafted 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 told the press.

“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,” he added.

Ghafoor, who today described the situation as “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” for the Commonwealth, suggested that Sir Donald McKinnon ought to be asked “who the hell this guy [Selvam] is.”

“Mr Selvam’s integrity is at a critical level,” he claimed. “Yesterday he got caught out.”

McKinnon’s statement today acknowledged that many issues would undoubtedly arise after the report’s release.

“I encourage political leaders to increase their efforts towards engaging in genuine dialogue, in order that consensus may be achieved, in a constructive and peaceful manner, on the path forward,” said McKinnon.

Meanwhile, local television station Raajje TV – linked closely with the MDP – yesterday aired a video of Singaporean-born lawyer and long-time critic of Judge Selvam, Gopalan Nair, in which he describes Selvam as a man “totally devoid of integrity”.

Nair has been writing about Judge Selvam on his ‘Singapore Dissident’ blog since 2010.

Moreover, in January this year, Malaysian media reported that Judge Selvam was accused of lying by chairman of the Malaysian Democratic Action Party (DAP), Karpal Singh.

Singh accused the retired justice of “lying to clear the air on an alleged plagiarism case involving a Malaysian Court of Appeal judge.”

A letter from Selvam to the Malaysian Chief Justice, clarifying that there was no case for plagiarism against the court of appeal judge, reportedly contradicted a statement from Selvam published in the Singaporean Straits Time.

Selvam was quoted as saying that the Malaysian judge had obtained a copy of his judgement through a lawyer, and “copied chunks from me without acknowledging”.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Mohamed Shifaz was also reported in local media as labeling Selvam “Singapore’s Abdullah” in reference to Maldivian Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed, whose controversial detention earlier this year by the military has been the subject of investigations by numerous independent institutions.

Abdullah was arrested in January, with the former Home Minister Hassan Afeef accusing the judge of having “taken the entire criminal justice system in his fist”.

The incident proved to be a major turning point in anti-government protests against the Nasheed administration, leading to sustained periods of unrest in the run up to the former President’s resignation on February 7.

However, President’s Office spokesman Masood Imad was dismissive of attacks on Selvam’s credibility.

“Selvam is a man of stature chosen by the Commonwealth,” said Masood, who also criticised Saeed’s outburst as “lacking professionalism”.

Masood noted that both Selvam and Saeed had been added to the commission at the MDP’s request.

The MDP’s National Council, yesterday evening, unanimously backed a resolution refusing to accept the report in its current format.

In the evening, the MDP recommenced its campaign of protests, which had been suspended for the final period of Ramazan in order to encourage political negotiations.

In response to questions over rising tension in the country, Ghafoor said that the party was not seeking confrontation.

“We are demanding two things – early elections and an agreement on a post-CNI scenario,” he said.

The MDP forwarded a list of suggested outcomes to the government earlier in the month to which the President’s Office responded that it would not discuss the findings until their official release on August 29.

Ghafoor accused President Waheed of “cunningly destabilising the country” by refusing to make arrangements for the report’s release.

He also said that the party remained hopeful that the commission’s final report would reflect its opinion that President Nasheed was removed in a coup.


UNHRC expresses concern over threats to civil society organisations: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has highlighted concerns raised by the UN Committee on Human Rights (UNHRC) that civil society organisations in the Maldives have allegedly received threats after submitting evidence to the inter-governmental body.

According to the MDP, the warning came during the closing stages of the Committee’s consideration of the Maldives’ report on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel and State Minister for Foreign Affairs have spent the last few days defending the country’s human rights record before the committee, which received a series of reports critical of that record from numerous local and international organisations.

An emergency point of order was raised by the Vice Chair of the Committee during the closely stages of the committee hearing.

The committee had, the Vice Chair said, “received extremely worrying reports that civil society groups in the Maldives which gave information for this meeting have been the subject of threats as a result. This includes the worst kind of threat – the threat to life,” the MDP cited in a statement.

Reprisals against such organisations and individuals for cooperating with international human rights bodies was a serious concern, the panel noted, and urged the government to ensure civil society was protected.

The MDP noted that with the statement, the Maldives had joined other States to have received such warnings including Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News that the government had “received complaints” from former Maldives High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Farhanaz Faizal, “that she has been receiving death threats, and we have brought this to the attention of the High Commission in London and the police.”

Minivan News was awaiting clarification from Dr Faizal at time of press.

Helios submission

Separately, Minivan News obtained an email sent by President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad to the Helios Life Association, a Swiss-based NGO which submitted a report to the UNHRC claiming that “the growing political and institutional influence of radical Islamic groups has undermined the Maldives’ progress towards realisation of rights guaranteed under the ICCPR.”

The Helios report noted that “this growing radicalisation resulted in the creation of a coalition of political parties in December, called the 23rd December Coalition for the Defence of Islam.

“As well as extremist religious elements, the 23rd December Coalition comprised of a range of political groups and individuals linked to the country’s former autocratic leader, Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The Coalition had been formed in direct opposition to the observance of international human rights law, particularly to the undertaking given at the UPR process that a national debate will be held on ending forms of punishment not consistent with Article 7.”

The report drew the Committee’s attention to the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to the Maldives and the vitriolic reaction to calls she made for a moratorium of the flogging of women for extramarital sex.

“The [December 23] Coalition proceeded to carry out a coup d’etat on February 7, which was executed by elements of the army and police loyal to Mr Gayoom, his close allies and former members of his government, and other parts of the 23rd December Coalition, following a call by the then Vice‐President, Dr Mohamed Waheed, to ‘defend Islam and the Constitution’”, the Helios report alleged.

“The coup saw elements of the police and army threaten the Maldives’ first democratically‐elected President, Mr Mohamed Nasheed, his family and colleagues from the ruling Maldives Democratic Party (MDP), with physical harm or worse unless he resign by a certain time.”

In the email sent to the Helios Association, Imad asks the organisation’s President, Dr Anna Barchetti Durisch, for the “names and positions” of the report’s authors, and whether a delegation from the organisation had visited the Maldives to assist in the drafting.

Speaking to Minivan News, Imad said that the picture on the front of the report – consisting of several police officers holding a baton to an old man with a bloody head injury – was a “fake picture” that had been photoshopped.

As for the report’s content, “much of it is biased. It sounded like a joke to me,” he said.

Pictured: The Helios report cover image the government alleges is fake.


Hilath Rasheed attack “nothing to do with religious extremism”, government claims

The Maldives government has told international media that an attack last month on prominent blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed was the work of “rival gang members”and not religious extremists as alleged by the victim.

Rasheed – a controversial figure in the Maldives for his willingness to tackle taboo subjects, particularly religious tolerance – was left in a critical condition after being stabbed in the neck near his home in Male’ last month.

Having since fled the country, Rasheed has told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news service that he believed the attack, which literally silenced him temporarily after his trachea was sliced clean through, was conducted by extreme religous elements in the country.

“I was attacked because I advocate secularism. The Islamists want Maldives to remain a 100-percent Islamic country,” he stated in an interview the AFP said was conducted through Twitter and email.

However, the government hit out at the blogger’s accusations when contacted by the AFP, claiming Rasheed was targeted for an attack due to gang rivalry, not because of “religious extremism” or the focus of his blog and journalism.

“He is a member of a gang and had been attacked by rival gang members in the past too. It is unfair to blame this attack on anything else,” President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told the news service.

When contacted by Minivan News today the Maldives Police Service said that investigations were continuing into the case and it was therefore unable to say if there was a specific motive behind the attack.

“So far we do not have a suspect,” Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said.  “We are continuing to investigate and are tracing CCTV camera footage in attempts to locate the culprit.”

Despite the government’s insistence that there was no religious motivation behind the attack on Hilath, in a previous interview with the AFP, the recently appointed Minister for Human Resources Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Shareef said that, “Hilath must have known that he had become a target of a few extremists.”

“We are not a secular country. When you talk about religion there will always be a few people who do not agree,” Shareef said whilst condemning the attack.

“Idealogical problems”

Speaking to Minivan News in June, Maldives Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said the current government was seeking to counter the “ideological problems” of extremism in the country.

Shaheem claimed that the threat of home-grown terrorism was a key issue needing to be addressed in the Maldives – something he alleged the previous government had neglected to assist with through proper funding.

Rasheed himself has contended that both the administrations of former President Mohamed Nasheed and serving President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan have shown little interest in prosecuting figures alleged to have conducted religious threats and attacks in recent months – regardless of the number of photos and witnesses.

Aside from last month’s attack, on December 14 Rasheed was taken to hospital with a fractured skull after being attacked during a ‘silent protest’ advocating religious tolerance in the Maldives held to coincide with Human Rights Day.

He was subsequently arrested for questioning over his involvement in the silent gathering, and the Criminal Court granted police a 10 day extension of detention for the investigation.

Later that month, Amnesty International declared Rasheed a prisoner of conscience, and called for his “immediate and unconditional” release, which was granted in January.


MDP early election goal better sought through Majlis, not “acts of terrorism”: government

The 50,000-member strong Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said anti-government protests will “intensify” as the country awaits further action from the Commonwealth, while the government has challenged the motives behind ongoing demonstrations.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad claimed the now opposition MDP, led by former President Mohamed Nasheed, is not interested in democratic processes to ensure early elections, preferring instead to opt for protests the government has labelled “terrorism”.

The Maldives was set a four week deadline by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on April 16 to address the impartiality of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s independent inquiry commission into the controversial transfer of power, or face “stronger measures”.

President Waheed has already pledged to hold “early” elections by July 2013 – the earliest date permitted, under the constitution, Imad told Minivan News.

Any demands for elections earlier than that date – as requested by international bodies such the Commonwealth and EU– should be achieved through parliament. The MDP presently holds 31 elected members in the 77 seat Majlis chamber, following the recent defection of MDP MP Shifag Mufeed to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

“I don’t see a reason why [former President Mohamed Nasheed] is demonstrating other than to promote his lunatic point of view. He is encouraging hooliganism and acts of terrorism like burning down buildings,” alleged Imad. “We have given them a date for early elections and that is July 2013. That is the earliest we can do.”

The comments were made after a few thousand MDP supporters conducted demonstrations over the weekend near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building in Male’. The gathering saw MDP members and supporters holding meetings and criticising the alleged role of mutinous elements in the Maldives’ security forces in bringing President Waheed’s government to power.

Meanwhile, several hundred MDP protesters waving yellow flags mobbed President Waheed’s car during a visit to the island of Kulhudhuffushi over the weekend.

The MDP has alleged that February’s transfer of power, in which Waheed took office after Mohamed Nasheed “resigned” following a mutiny by sections of the police and military, was a “coup d’etat”.  The party has since refused to accept the present executive’s legitimacy. This led to the MDP twice boycotting the President’s inaugural speech to parliament, as well as a vote last week to approve Waheed’s cabinet and vice president appointees.

“Gentleman’s option”

Imad questioned why Nasheed and his supporters were not choosing to take “the gentleman’s option” by pursuing early elections and a constitutional amendment in parliament: “The job could be done right now if [Nasheed] thinks realistically,” he claimed.

“Nasheed himself loves to take the streets and make a nuisance of himself. He believes he defeated Gayoom on his own but he didn’t. Nasheed was hiding in his house while others were out protesting,” Imad said.

He said that rather than protesting, he believed the MDP would have greater success in seeking a vote through the People’s Majlis, where it remains the majority representative.

The MDP presently stands against a government-aligned coalition of rival parties including the PPM and the then-opposition majority party from which in split in 2011, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

Imad also alleged that Nasheed was a “dictatorial” presence in the MDP and did not care for democratic processes, after the passing last week of two no-confidence motions against the party’s president and vice-president by the MDP’s national council.

Nearly 95 percent of those in attendance voted in support of the no-confidence motions against former MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi and former Vice-President Alhan Fahmy.

Dr Didi has since submitted an official complaint to the Elections Commission (EC) regarding his ouster by the party, alleging that the decision was not in-line with the party’s registered constitution.

Imad said the party’s of the no-confidence motions reflected badly on Nasheed’s own democratic credentials.

“[Nasheed] is now throwing away elected people in his own party. Clearly an election is not important to him,” Imad said. “ Dr Didi and Mr Alhan are elected members of the party.”

Weekend gatherings

Addressing the MDP gathering outside the MMA building over the weekend, party spokesperson Hamid Adbul Ghafoor told Minivan News that protests were likely to increase in number in the coming weeks.

With two weeks until CMAG’s deadline for the government to review the composition and mandate of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) expires, Ghafoor said that protests were expected to “intensify”.

He added that despite the presence of riot police during Friday’s demonstration, demonstrators were able to peacefully hold meetings.

“We have set a precedent where we can speak to security forces peacefully about our grievances. I believe the administration now understand that we are not trying to attempt a coup against them,” he said. “This is even though we believe that a section of the police force in this country took money and turned mercenary to overthrow Nasheed’s government [on February 7],” he alleged.

Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that a “few incidents” occurred during the demonstration leading to the arrest of six people.

According to local media reports, riot police blocked roads surrounding the MMA gathering. Water cannons and other crowd deterrents were deployed on site, were unused during the demonstration.


Minivan News observed around 4000 people taking part in the demonstration outside the MMA building at the peak of the protest.

Two weeks previously, the party claimed that 10,000 people gathered in Male’ to protest. Another protest last week reportedly consisted of around 6000 people.

MDP Women’s Wing spokesperson Aishath Aniya told Minivan News at the time that interest still remained “strong” among party supporters for protests.

The momentum of the protests had not diminished and the numbers of people taking to the streets were consistent, she claimed.

“I don’t see the numbers of protesters decreasing, though [turnout] does depend on the time and place of demonstrations,” she said. “We would obviously get fewer protesters during school hours.”

Aniya claimed that from her experience, during instances where former President Mohamed Nasheed was in attendance, Large numbers of people were attracted to demonstrations when former President Mohamed Nasheed was in attendance, she observed.

There was, she said, “tremendous pressure” among MDP  members to mobilise and demonstrate at events attended by the new president around the country.