Presidential Commission member resigns over “political influences”

Presidential Commission member Idham Muizzu Adnan resigned from the commission yesterday, claiming a lack of transparency and impartiality.

The Presidential Commission is an independent body created by President Mohamed Nasheed in May 2009 to investigate corruption allegations in the country. The president was also responsible for appointing all of its members.

Spokesperson for the Presidential Commission, Abdulla Haseen, said the commission’s mandate was to investigate corruption cases, particularly targeting people accused of corruption under the previous regime.

However Adnan, who has worked with the commission since it was created, said he resigned because of “certain political influences” that were being imposed on the commission.

“I agree the president has the power to dictate [how the commission is run]… but he should do it in a reasonable and impartial manner,” Adnan said.

Adnan said sometimes the commission was pressured “not to call on certain people” when investigating a case, or was advised not to disclose certain information to the public.

“In decree, the commission is to function independently… [it] should not be used as a tool to protect people or attack opponents.”

Furthermore, “we should be allowed to disclose any information [we find],” he said, “because these corruption issues need to be investigated.”

Adnan said a press conference scheduled for yesterday evening was cancelled at the last minute on request from the President’s Office, which made him reconsider his position in the commission.

“I feel [the commission] cannot function in an impartial manner,” Adnan said.

Haseen confirmed Adnan’s resignation and said Adnan “is really concerned about transparency… he is not satisfied with our decision to postpone a press conference.”

Haseen confirmed the scheduled press conference was postponed “on the advice of the President’s Office.”

He said the commission gives press conferences “frequently” and this one was postponed “because the issue is quite controversial.”

The Presidential Commission is allowed to share information with the public, Haseen said, but “we have some limitations.”

Haseen explained that once the investigation of a case is completed by the commission, a press conference will normally be held before the registration report is sent to the police. The police then have to send it to the Prosecutor General’s office, who decide whether the case will be sent to court.

Although Haseen said the President’s Office “never intervenes with the process” of investigation, on this occasion, “Mr Adnan is not happy about it.”

Haseen said the commission regularly seeks the president’s advice, since “he appointed the commission, it is related to his advice,” and their investigations are always “cooperative.”

Haseen said the issue of the commission’s transparency was “nothing to worry about.”

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said President Nasheed expressed his regret about Adnan’s resignation, and thanked him for his sincerity and the legal advice he provided the commission.

Zuhair noted the President created the commission to strengthen the role of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), among other independent commissions

“The Presidential Commission is an auxiliary body to help police and other agencies at the front line of legal matters,” Zuhair said.

He said he believed Adnan “jumped the gun” with his resignation.

“He may have other assumptions [about the commission],” Zuhair said.

Zuhair said the press conference that was cancelled yesterday had originally been scheduled for Thursday, but the commission postponed it until Sunday “for their own reasons.”

He said the president then wrote a letter to the commission asking for the details of the press conference, “saying he should be informed of the key points to be made public.”

Zuhair said “it would not be the decent thing to do to go ahead with the press conference without giving the president the facts he wanted. It is the Presidential Commission. The president is the head of this body.”

He said the president “didn’t want to jeopardise the legal process” by revealing certain information before the case was made public and sent to the police. “The president wanted to know whether the commission had a water-tight case.”

But he assured “there was no order [made] to stop the press conference.”