Parties to leaked “coup agreement” dismiss document’s authenticity

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Download the original document in Dhivehi

Vice President of the Civil Alliance coalition of NGOs, Abdulla Mohamed, has claimed that a leaked document allegedly signed by all then-opposition political parties to commit to toppling former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government is not authentic, and that the signatures of party representatives are forged.

The document, apparently signed and sealed by the parties and the Civil Alliance, purports to be  blueprint of a plot to overthrow the government, forcing former President Nasheed to resign, and have the Supreme Court order him to remain away from politics for the rest of his life.

The document is dated December 29, 2011 and features the signatures and seals resembling those of the then-opposition parties Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Jumhoree Party (JP), Dhivehi Rayythunge Party (DRP), People’s Alliance (PA) and the Civil Alliance.

The unauthenticated signatures appear to include those of PPM Vice President Umar Naseer, Islamic Minister Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed (on behalf of the AP), Leader of the DQP Dr Hassan Saeed, Leader of the JP Gasim Ibrahim, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim on behalf of the PA.

“This agreement, is an agreement agreed by friendly political groups, after having come to the belief that current President Mohamed Nasheed of Galolhu Kenereege should no longer be allowed to remain as the president of this country, to completely bar Nasheed from politics and to eradicate the existence of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who are being influenced by Christianity for the sake of the country’s future, for reasons that include: dishonoring the religion Islam and the laws of this country, openly promoting anti-Islamic mottos, refusing to enforce Islamic Sharia’, indulging in anti-Islamic activities, arbitrarily arresting political opponents, acting contempt of the courts of the law,” states the document’s introduction.

Abdulla Mohamed dismissed the document: “I swear by Allah, that I have never signed an agreement with any political parties both in my personal capacity and in my capacity as the Vice President of the Civil Alliance. Any agreement, had we made one, would have been live on television. I even have the minutes of meetings held with political parties and I will reveal them soon.”

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Gasim Ibrahim, Sheik Shaheem and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim have all denied the validity of the document to local media.

“I helped Waheed out of the mess”: Ahmed Faiz

Former Deputy CEO of Maldives Ports Limited Ahmed Faiz – who recently defected to the MDP following his arrest for allegedly attempting to blackmail Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed in a sex-tape scandal – told Minivan News that it would have been “really odd” for the parties to enter into such an agreement without his being a party to it.

Faiz did not dismiss the authenticity of the document, but suggested that GIP may have been deliberately sidelined from the agreement.

“When I looked into the document, one party was missing. President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s party Gaumee Ithithaadh Party (GIP) is missing in the document. I was the one representing the party at those meetings aimed at toppling Nasheed,” said Faiz.

Faiz said he presumed that omitting the GIP from the agreement was possibly due to tensions between Waheed – who was then Vice President – and the group of opposition political parties.

“Their spirit was quite odd. They were talking during the meetings too. Firstly, they planned to oust both Nasheed and Waheed. They had grudges against Waheed after he gave a press conference as Vice President calling for the suspension of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed. However I talked to the opposition parties and persuaded them to exclude Waheed from the plan,” Faiz explained.

Faiz also implied that Waheed had little role during the initial stages of ousting of Nasheed’s government, and contended that a televised press conference and early morning meeting between Waheed and opposition parties a week prior to Nasheed’s ousting had just been “showing off”.

During the press conference, DRP Vice President Ibrahim Shareef “asked the Vice President to save this nation. I would like to call upon the security forces [to accept that] since the Vice President is a person elected by Maldivians, and should the President be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President.”

Waheed was not present at the press conference. Faiz told Minivan News, “When the idea of ousting Waheed and Nasheed began floating, I went onto VTV and invited Waheed to join the anti-government protest that had been going on against Nasheed. He got really upset and we both even had a falling out.”

‘Plot’ to oust Nasheed

According to the document, the plot to topple Nasheed’s government was to start on February 24, 2012 – 17 days earlier than the day Nasheed was toppled – following a nation-wide Islamic symposium.

It proposed that Nasheed’s presidency be ended within 24 hours from commencement of the symposium, after giving the president a five hour ultimatum to resign unconditionally.

In late January 2012, 22 days of continuous anti-government protests led by then opposition figures and religious scholars following the controversial detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed escalated into a mutiny by certain elements within the police and the military.

By midday of February 7, 2012, then-President Nasheed had exhausted all his options to establish a chain of command within the ranks of police and military, and was left trapped inside the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) barracks surrounded by rebelling police and military forces along with an angry mob of demonstrators, who had been armed by the rebelling security services.

Within a short span of time, the current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim – who had been a civilian at the time – entered the military barracks and gave Nasheed an ultimatum to “resign or face the dire repercussions”. At the same time another group of demonstrators and rebelling security forces stormed and took control of the state broadcaster. Nasheed’s subsequent resignation at the President’s Office was aired on the swiftly re-branded Television Maldives.

Vice President Mohamed Waheed then ascended to power.

Mutiny and Vice President’s endorsement

The symposium, the document claimed, would escalate into a violent demonstration on the outskirts of Republic Square with three groups stationed at different locations.

Religious sheikhs affiliated with the movement would address the police barricading the area, and were to convince them that it was haram under Islam to obey the orders of President Nasheed in a bid to appeal for their support. Following the speeches of the religious sheikhs, politicians would take over the stage and then PPM Vice President Umar Naseer was to give the final speech.

By the end of his speech, a lieutenant colonel and a brigadier general from the MNDF would step aside from their duties and would appeal to the remaining military officers to disobey the orders of the president.

By this time, a platoon of Police’s Special Operations (SO) department would rebel against the police leadership and begin protests within Republic Square, creating a distraction that would allow more demonstrators to enter Republic Square and join the rebel police.

According to the document, by this time then Nasheed’s Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu – who according to the document had pledged supported to the movement – would go on to order the MNDF to arrest the protesting police live on state broadcaster MNBC One.

Using this opportunity, the organizers of the movement, by using opposition-aligned TV station DhiTV, would propagate rumors across the country that MNDF had begun brutalising the protesting police and appeal the other police officers to join the protests to help their colleagues.

The document claimed that Nasheed’s Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – the current president – had pledged his support for the movement and would take over the presidency as soon as the Supreme Court ruled that Nasheed had been incapacitated.

It also claimed that Waheed had agreed to form a national unity government with “friendly political groups”, and had agreed not to seek re-election at the conclusion of the presidential term.

Arrest of Nasheed and declaration of incapacity

By the time the demonstrations had escalated into a violent mob backed by police and military, the Special Protection Group (SPG) of the MNDF – tasked with protecting the president – would escort Nasheed to the presidential retreat of Aarah, in the name of giving him protection and security.

Shortly after Nasheed had been escorted to the island, an emergency court case would be filed at the Supreme Court requesting it to rule that Nasheed was incapable of remaining as the President, due to fear of violence and loss of the social harmony of the state as police and military were reluctant to follow his orders.

Then Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan would immediately take oath as the President as soon as the ruling was issued.  In an another ruling after Waheed assumed power, the Supreme Court would order the imprisonment of Nasheed and bar him from involvement in politics for the rest of his life.

According to the document, leader of the DQP and running mate of resort tycoon and JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim, Dr Hassan Saeed, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim were lobbying the Supreme Court bench to get its support.

The document also alleged that the PPM has had agreed to have current Attorney General Aishath Azima Shukoor try to convince Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain to support the petition.

After intense negotiations, the document claimed, a green signal had been given to the movement that the Supreme Court would issue the orders as requested by them.

New government

The document claimed that shortly after Waheed Hassan assumed power, the cabinet of President Nasheed would immediately be dismissed and a new cabinet would consisting of 10 members would be appointed including PPM Vice President Umar Naseer as the Home Minister and Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu reappointed as the Defense Minister.

Similarly, retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim was to be appointed as the Chief of Defence Force and Abdulla Riyaz appointed as the Commissioner of Police.

However, when the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan assumed power in February 7, 2012, the position of Home Minister was given to Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and the Defense Minister position was given to retired Colonel Nazim. Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam was appointed Chief of Defence Force while Abdulla Riyaz was appointed as the Commissioner of Police.

Dismantling and factionalising MDP

Following the change of government, the document claimed that it was highly important to divide, dismantle and factionalise the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), in a bid to weaken opposition to government.

“It has been agreed among all friendly political groups, that it is very important to influence and overtake the control of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the following actions have been commonly agreed to be carried out in order to dismantle the MDP’s leadership,” read the document.

The schemes to divide the MDP included backing then President of the Party, Dr Ibrahim Didi – whom the document described was politically weak and easily manipulated – while also supporting current Chairperson of MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, whom the document described as susceptible to blackmailed and threats against his business interests.

The document noted that Vice President of MDP MP Alhan Fahmy was the second biggest threat in the MDP as he had the potential to reorganise it in the absence of Nasheed.

The document claimed that the movement would work on promoting Dr Didi as party’s official presidential candidate, financed by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim.

In a bid to verify the authenticity of the document Minivan News tried contacting all parties mentioned in the document, but with the exception of Abdulla Mohamed from the Civil Alliance, no others were responding to calls at time of press.

Read an English translation of the document

Download the original document in Dhivehi


Police to hire 75 civil assistants as non-uniformed personnel

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has made an announcement in the government gazette on Sunday (June 23) seeking to hire 75 “civil assistants” as non-uniformed personnel for administrative work.

A police media official explained to Minivan News today that the MPS planned to assign all administrative work to civil staff and free up “uniformed police officers for operations.”

While there were civil staff working for police at present, the media official added, uniformed personnel with police training were also carrying out administrative tasks, such as “answering the phone at police stations and writing reports.”

Shifting all administrative work to civil staff would allow uniformed personnel to attend to police work and election security matters ahead of the presidential election in September, the media official said.

According to the criteria listed in the job announcement, interested candidates must have at least two O’ Level C passes, must have passed Dhivehi and Islam, and must not have been convicted of a crime with a punishment prescribed in the Quran or theft, fraud, embezzlement, drug abuse or drug trafficking in the past five years.

In addition, applicants must not have sought treatment or rehabilitation for drug abuse during the past five years and must not be a registered member of a political party.

The deadline for submitting application forms, available on the police website and at the police headquarters, is 4:00pm on July 4.

The civil assistants will be paid monthly wages of MVR 3,470 (US$225) in addition to MVR 1,000 (US$65) a month as a service allowance and 35 percent of the salary as a non-practice allowance.

The new police staff will cost the state MVR 426,300 (US$27,645) a month and MVR 5.1 million (US$330,739) a year.

The announcement seeking 75 civil assistants followed the recruitment of new officers for a “special constabulary” reserve force in May this year.

Reserve force officers were to be paid 85 percent of the salary of a regular police officer of the same rank.

Budget crisis

Following the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012 in the wake of a violent mutiny instigated by officers of the Special Operations (SO) command, more than 1000 police officers were promoted110 new police officers were hired, a housing scheme was introduced for police officers with 300 flats to be constructed in Hulhumale’, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for police officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.

The additional recurrent expenditure on wages for new police staff comes at a time when the country is facing a budget crisis, with island schools and hospitals understaffed, local councils unable to settle outstanding utility bills, and development projects stalled over lack of funds.

In April, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad sought authorisation from parliament to divert MVR 650 million (US$42 million) allocated for infrastructure projects in the budget to cover recurrent expenditure.

Jihad warned that government offices and independent institutions might be unable to pay salaries or electricity and phone bills if funds were not transferred from the MVR 1.8 billion (US$117 million) Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).

Earlier in April, the cabinet decided to delay implementation of new development projects financed out of the state budget due to shortfalls in revenue.

Moreover, in a report on the Maldivian justice system released in May, UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, expressed concern of an impending budget crisis for the judiciary.

“The immediate implications of the budget cuts on the judiciary are appalling. For instance, the Department of Judicial Administration only has funds to pay staff salaries until November 2013 and it had to cancel training this year,” Knaul noted.

“The Civil Court reported that it would not have sufficient funds to pay its staff salaries after October 2013; furthermore, existing budgetary resources would not be sufficient to pay for utilities and facilities after June 2013,” she added.

During the parliamentary debate last year on the state budget proposed for 2013, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs criticised budgeted salary increases for military and police officers as well as plans to hire 800 new personnel for the security services.

The state’s annual wage bill was projected to skyrocket by 37 percent in 2013 as a result of hiring more employees.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla claimed during the budget debate that the police and army hired 250 and 350 new staff respectively in 2012.

Consequently, the institutions spent more than MVR 75 million (US$4.8 million) in addition to the approved budgets for 2012, she claimed.

Meanwhile, in its professional opinion on the budget submitted to parliament, the Auditor General’s Office observed that compared to 2012, the number of state employees was set to rise from 32,868 to 40,333 – resulting in MVR 1.3 billion (US$84.3 million) of additional expenditure in 2013.

This anticipated increase included 864 new staff to be hired by the security services, the Auditor General’s Office noted.


Special Operations (SO) officers stationed permanently on Thinadhoo

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has decided to station officers of the Special Operations (SO) command on the island of Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.

According to Sun Online, the SO officers will work with the Thinadhoo police station to establish “peace and security”.

On February 7, 2012, SO officers instigated a violent mutiny, assaulted government supporters, ransacked the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Haruge (meeting hall), staged a protest at the Republic Square demanding the resignation of then-President Mohamed Nasheed, clashed with soldiers and stormed the national broadcaster in the hours immediately preceding Nasheed’s controversial resignation.

Moreover, on February 8, 2012 SO officers brutally beat supporters of the deposed MDP during a heavy-handed crackdown of a protest march led by Nasheed, who had just declared that his resignation the previous day was made “under duress.”

Dozens of demonstrators were left injured and hospitalised in a crackdown described by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) as “brutal” and “without warning.”

The crackdown sparked violence across the country, with several islands shutting down or burning police stations and courts, notably in the urban centres of Addu City, Thinadhoo and Kulhudhufushi.

In March 2012, police arrested 17 people in Thinadhoo for alleged involvement in vandalising government property and setting fire to the police station, magistrate court, atoll council office, and all police vehicles. Some 108 persons involved in the demonstration are currently facing criminal prosecution.

Nine policemen were attacked and subsequently treated at the Thinadhoo Regional Hospital, leading police to declare the island unsafe for police officers.

More recently, President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s visit to Thinadhoo earlier this month was met with hundreds of angry protesters.

Since the transfer of presidential power, SO officer have been accused of using excessive force against demonstrators by Amnesty International.

In May this year, Addu City Mayor Abdulla Sodiq told Minivan News that 50 people were arrested in advance of a visit by President Waheed, “and about 90 percent of those taken in were MDP supporters”.

Mayor Sodig explained that the city council had requested the police “provide extra strength to increase numbers to about 30 per station.”

“The special operations team [responded by] sending their ‘star force’, but they don’t have their commander here. He’s not in control of this group or operations. Instead they are directly overseen by Male’ command,” said Sodig.

“That’s the reason why we don’t want them to continue,” he declared.

Later that month, eight young detainees arrested in the Maradhoo ward of Addu City alleged physical abuse by SO officers while they were under police custody.


Summary: Testimony of former police commissioner to Government Oversight Committee

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the police and military for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012. Minutes of the closed-door sessions (Dhivehi) along with audio recordings were made public on January 16, 2013.

Following is a translated summary of the testimony from former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh to the oversight committee on January 11, 2013. Faseeh retired from the police service shortly after President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation.

Three or four nights before February 6, 2012, opposition coalition protesters at the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building area took to the streets and began marching through the narrow roads of the capital. At the time, the demonstrations were taking place every night in front of the MMA building, after which the protesters would march across Male’ until the early hours of morning.

On the night in question, about 800 people were gathered at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Haruge (meeting hall) on Ameenee Magu. Fearing a possible confrontation, Faseeh asked his commanders to make sure that the opposition protesters do not reach Haruge.

While he was inside the police headquarters, Faseeh suddenly heard a platoon of Specialist Operations (SO) riot police take off on a police vehicle.

Acting without orders, the SO platoon stormed Haruge and pepper-sprayed ruling party supporters.

Faseeh called Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim and asked for a platoon of soldiers to be sent to the area to control the situation. The SO officers left Haruge when the military platoon arrived.

Following the SO attack on Haruge, two groups of MDP activists led by MPs Alhan Fahmy and ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik made their way to the Supreme Court building and MMA area. With no command from senior officers, SO officers forcibly broke up the group led by Reeko Moosa as soon as they reached the MMA building.

The next morning, then-head of police intelligence, Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed, informed Faseeh of an intercepted phone call between a SO lance corporal and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof. The call was intercepted and shared by military intelligence.

In the recorded phone call, the SO officer boasts of pepper spraying people at Haruge and beating up MDP activists when they came to the MMA area. MP Mahloof asks the lance corporal why they did not break MP Moosa Manik’s leg.

“And [the SO officer] replies, ‘we can’t just break [his leg] like that. That’s not how this is going on.’ In any case, they talked like they were the closest buddies.”

The officer was immediately transferred out of the SO unit to Feydhoo Finolhu pending disciplinary proceedings.

On the night of February 6, President Nasheed called Faseeh and asked for the SO to be withdrawn. Opposition coalition protesters and ruling party supporters were facing off at the artificial beach with riot police separating the rival demonstrators.

Nasheed told the commissioner that he did not have confidence in police based on reliable intelligence information, which suggested that riot police were working with the opposition. Faseeh recalled the intercepted phone call and wondered if the President’s order was prompted by similar intelligence information.

Faseeh then asked Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim to dispatch a platoon of soldiers from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to take over from riot police. The soldiers were sent to artificial beach an hour later and the SO officers reluctantly withdrew to Republic Square. Riot police troops were staged at the helipad in the middle of the square.

Faseeh was in his office with Assistant Commissioner Sodiq when he heard a loud commotion coming from Republic Square. From his balcony, Faseeh saw police vehicles taking off and SO officers screaming, “let’s go beat them up.”

Faseeh ran downstairs and saw SO officers running. Deputy Commissioner Ismail Atheef was there. Faseeh did not know what was going on.

He was later informed that Atheef snatched the keys from one of the police lorries. But the SO officers left on other vehicles while others ran to the artificial beach. The Republic Square was soon empty.

Shortly thereafter, a cousin called Faseeh and said a police lorry was going towards the MDP Haruge on Ameenee Magu. He said they were screaming obscenities very loudly.

MDP Haruge on February 7: Photo by Haveeru

“Then they went to MDP Haruge. They went inside MDP Haruge, beat up some people there and damaged things and even beat some people they met on the road.”

Faseeh also learned that they chased after and beat people at the artificial beach. After attacking Haruge the rogue SO officers returned to Republic Square. Faseeh was despairing “because my troops committed such lowly acts.”

“Even if they were given an order to do something illegal that does not mean they have to commit bigger crimes.”

Faseeh went out to Republic Square and asked Deputy Commissioners Atheef and Muneer to go talk with the SO officers. Faseeh waited near the flag post. Muneer returned and said they responded with filth and obscenities. Muneer advised Faseeh against meeting them.

Faseeh saw three or four officers carry Deputy Commissioner Atheef inside the headquarters after he fainted.

“What happened was Athee couldn’t believe these were actually police.”

Other officers, including “blues,” came out of the headquarters and started loitering around the square. The rogue SO officers at the helipad area occasionally called for the resignation of President Nasheed.

Around 11pm, Faseeh went to the military headquarters. President Nasheed called and asked what was going on.

“I said I don’t know what they’ve done. They are now in a mutiny.”

All the generals, the chief of defence forces and the defence minister were at the military headquarters. They were discussing how to get the police to withdraw.

Faseeh told the senior officers that the mutinying SO was his “elite force.”

“When the SO are insubordinate, there aren’t any others who could talk to them or control them.”

The officers then began preparing to control the situation. Faseeh stayed with Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel and Defence Minister Tholhath and saw that they started working on it.

“They started and gave different times. 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30. But by the time it turned 4 it still couldn’t be done. It kept dragging on.”

The soldiers would form ranks, get set and withdraw. “The soldiers were very cowardly.”

Around 4am, President Nasheed came to the military headquarters. He asked Major General Jaleel why the military were unable to push the SO back. Faseeh recalled that there were about 150 mutinying officers at the Republic Square at dawn.

The soldiers were sent out again but they did not confront the SO.

A frustrated President Nasheed suggested to Jaleel that he could accomplish the task with a water canon and 20 soldiers.

Shortly after the dawn prayer was called, President Nasheed asked Faseeh to meet the rogue police and attempt to advise them. After praying, Faseeh instructed his secretary to ask the SO commanders to come and meet the commissioner.

The commanders refused.

A few civilians were near the Republic Square at the time. Faseeh’s private secretary informed him that the SO officers were “worse than before and more aggressive.” Faseeh decided not to go out and meet them. He managed to pass on a message to the four SO squad commanders from President Nasheed assuring them that they would be treated fairly.

From inside the police headquarters, Faseeh heard MDP supporters heading into Republic Square from the Chandaneemagu-Orchidmagu junction.

The mutinying officers were chanting their core values, oath or mission statement with one arm on the chest. As soon as it was done, they turned and ran towards the MDP group.

Faseeh saw loud clashes and “a big fight.”

“That was when the flame was lit. And the boys who lost control there came and threw huge stones at the police office, threw things inside the police office, vandalised places, destroyed a lorry there, threw rocks at MNDF.”

Faseeh saw the police officers use their batons during the confrontation. After they vandalised the police office, Faseeh’s bodyguard wanted to take him to a secure location but he went to the administrative commissioner’s office.

The mutinying officers were running inside the police building making death threats. Chief Superintendents Hameed and Mohamed Jinah as well as Atheef were assaulted.

Two officers came looking for Faseeh but were thwarted by the commissioner’s secretary. They slammed into the door twice trying to break it down but soon left.

The violent officers “destroyed” the conference room and mess room and damaged electronic equipment and a television set.

Faseeh recalled forming the SO in 2004 by training and bodybuilding 35 recruits. They were used to control demonstrations staged by the MDP during the post-2003 pro-democracy movement.

“They are all really the same [riot police] sent out when the MDP people gathered back then to take away the rice pudding bowl, take down banners and do all that. So in truth there is going to be something of Maumoonism inside their heads.”

Faseeh decided to resign after hearing current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim demand his resignation upon emerging from the military headquarters between 10:00am and 11:00am. Nazim said he had relayed a “non-negotiable” demand for President Nasheed to resign within the hour “without any conditions.”


Transcript: MNDF Staff Sergeant Shafraz Naeem’s CoNI account of Feb 7 mutiny

This article was first published by Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

On 7 February 2012, MNDF Staff Sergeant Shafraz Naeem was commanding Bravo, one of the Bandara Koshi Battalion riot squads that confronted the mutinying SO police in front of the military headquarters. He resigned five days later.

“I have lost faith in the institution,” he told the Commission of National Inquiry [CoNI] later. This is Shafraz Naeem’s account of what occurred during the mutiny, reconstructed from the transcript CoNI’s interview with him on 7 July.

I was commander of the riot squad of the Bandara Koshi (BK) Battalion from the time the protests began. We were supporting the MNDF riot squad.

We were on standby till 11:30 p.m. [6 February], when we were dispatched to Artificial Beach. The police were withdrawing when we arrived. My squad placed three cordons in the area. Nobody was violent, but there was much verbal abuse.

I received an order to withdraw to Sawmill. “If we withdraw, there will be trouble,” I said to my senior, [Lt.] Ali Ihusan. We withdrew.

Shortly afterwards, we were ordered to return to the scene. Protesters on both sides—the Coalition and MDP—were hurling stones and verbal abuse at each other. We put the cordons back up.

I heard some vehicles arriving. I saw police officers screaming at everyone, the protesters, the MNDF, at everybody. They began running after MDP protesters.

“We will kill you all!” they were shouting.

We restored order, moved the media away. After thirty minutes, the police returned. They were singing patriotic songs. One officer approached me. He put his baton under my chin and let forth a string of profanities.

“You must withdraw to BK”, we were told fifteen minutes later.

“Clear the area. Get the media out. Remove everyone carrying iron rods from the scene,” Captain Amanullah ordered.

We arrived at Bandara Koshi in the early hours of the morning. About 40-50 SO officers, I am not sure exactly how many, were staging a sit-in at Republic Square. I dispatched squads to cordon off designated areas, MMA [Maldives Monetary Authority] and other spots.

Around 2:30 a.m., outside MNDF [Headquarters], I met General Shiyam. He stood watching the Republic Square.

“Why aren’t you giving orders to arrest them?” I asked.

“Go away!” he responded.

I had to ask. We had received intelligence of an intended police mutiny. After being at the Artificial Beach, I knew it was happening.

Half an hour later, all of us squad commanders received orders that no one—be it police or media—was to be allowed inside the cordons.

Some VTV or DhiTV journalists refused to leave. After an argument, we pushed them out.

“Let them in. And, let in the police once they show their ID card,” one officer,  [Major] Adil Rasheed said.

Every minute, five or six of them came in, filling up the cordoned off space. SO Officers were allowing gangsters inside the cordons, too. I saw Firusham allowing a few of them in at around 5:30.

We dispersed the crowd as far back as the Metro cafe’.

“Get the cordons inside and withdraw to HQ”, we were ordered at around 6:30.

“Why?” I asked Captain Amanullah and Major Adil. I always question orders that do not feel right to me.

“Mind your own business,” [First] Sergeant Amir Hussain said. I was told not to question orders.

“Get some sleep,” Lieutenant Colonel Fayaz told everyone once we were inside. All our armour was removed, my chest guard, everything except my shield. We had breakfast.

“The President wants to meet you,” we were told.

At the same moment, I heard police saying their Azum [pledge]. I heard screaming. And I heard the President shouting to us, “Go outside and arrest them!”

I, with about ten special forces personnel, went.

Those of us with shields were at the front, those without came behind. I was commanding from the front.

“Do not fire!” we were shouting. There were riot guns, rubber bullets, tear gas grenades.

“Do not fire until they fire!” I heard the police shouting. Each side waited to see what the other would do.

A gas canister flew towards the police.

It was fired from our side. I saw who threw it. It was Tholath, the Defence Minister.

“Do something!” he said. The canister landed. All hell broke loose.


Police charged. I ordered my men to do the same. I don’t recall how many canisters we threw. Stones, all sorts of things came at us. I was hit many times. I did not give up, I stayed until I was dragged in. I was the last person in.

I was not the main lead but one of several. There were sergeants, I was a staff sergeant. I saw my lead, Lieutenant Hamid Shafeeq only inside the HQ. He was the only person I heard issuing instructions. There was no plan, all orders were ad hoc.

When President Nasheed shouted at us to go out, all command and control was lost. Nobody took charge. I don’t think anybody even cared.

We went out when the President ordered us, but once we were outside, nobody gave us orders. The Ground Commanders, who were outside with us, should have commanded. They did not. About 3-4 minutes is enough time to analyse the situation and issue orders. There would have been enough time for a plan of attack. If the canister had not been thrown.

Around 9:30, I saw a large group of men gathered near the Communications Room. “Nasheed is a criminal. Do not obey unlawful orders,” I heard them say. I reported it to my senior.

“I will handle it,” he said.

“Collect all guns!” I heard a commander saying soon after. All weapons were taken away.

Outside, I could see Riyaz, Fayaz and Nazim. Shiyam, Fayaz (Papa) and were inside.

“Tell the president he has no choice but to resign!” I heard Fayaz say to Shiyam.

“I will”, Shiyam said. He had a weird smile on his face.

I was attending to some injured soldiers when I heard joyful shouting. [Mohamed] Nazim was being hoisted up by some football coaches.

Shiyam had let Nazim in, I know.

Nazim was in the forces before. I cannot remember now, but I think he was a Colonel. He was my instructor.

“This won’t go well,” I thought. I knew Shiyam was aware of what was happening. Once, while training with Shiyam, we had a conversation about an intended naval base.

“Where are you going to get the money for it?” I asked him.

“Gasim Ibrahim will give unlimited funds for the base. He will help MNDF grow,” he replied. The naval base is Shiyam’s dream project.

I don’t know what happened after Nazim went inside.

A rumour started soon that MDP was about to torch MNDF homes. Some people began to get worked up. They wanted to go outside. Shiyam and Zayed got them into a squad, and sent them out. There was nothing, no MDP people, no thugs.

It was past 11:30 then, and we heard Nasheed had resigned.


The next day, I returned at about 8:30 p.m. Nothing much was happening.

“If there is any rioting,” Papa told Shiyam, “Give me two minutes. I’ll have it all under control.”

I was in Bravo when I saw police charging the demonstrators.

“Why are they doing this?” I asked my senior [Lt. Col] Nasrullah. Even he did not know.

“Shut up,” Papa said to me.

I got a lot of flak and warnings for asking questions, for following President Nasheed’s orders. I took an oath to protect the country and the president; not to beat civilians or to mutiny. I did not take an oath to follow a mutinous general. I was never a big fan of Nasheed, but it did not matter to me who the President was that day. I would have done the same for any president.

In my view this was a coup. Why? I could see it from the way they handled everything, their attitude, how cool and calm all the officers were. I could tell from how cool General Shiyam was inside the MNDF. They did nothing. This is not how a uniformed officer should behave.

I really don’t know what [Moosa] Jaleel, Chief of Defence, was doing. He was walking around, smoking, as if in a trance, unaware of what was going on around him. I had admired Jaleel, but in that situation, his mind was somewhere else. General Nilam, too. Had I not pushed him to the ground inside MNDF, he would have been hit by bricks. I am not saying that he, too, was in a trance.

Perhaps they were in shock over the mutiny.

UPDATE: In communications with Dhivehi Sitee since the above post was published, Shafraz Naeem has said the CoNI transcript is inaccurate. Among the clarifications he would like to make are the following:

  • He arrived back at Bandara Koshi the following day [8 February] at 2:30 p.m., not 8:30 p.m. as recorded in the transcript.
  • He stated that he was not a fan of how President Nasheed handled the MNDF, not that he was ‘never a big fan of Nasheed.’
  • Parts of his conversation with General Shiyam about the naval base have been left out.
  • A heated exchange between Shafraz and Co-Chair, Ismail Shafeeu, on command and control–who was responsible for its loss and how it happened–has been omitted from the transcript.

President Waheed orders officials “shun” Parliament oversight committee

In a letter sent to Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid Sunday (January 20) President Mohamed Waheed stated that cabinet members, government officials, and members of the security forces will “shun” Parliament’s Government Accountability Committee, according to Haveeru.

Waheed stated that until Shahid ensures Majlis and Committee actions are “in line” with the Maldivian constitution and Parliament’s rules of procedure, government officials will not adhere to summons by the Committee on Oversight of the Government, reports Sun Online.

This continues the government’s trend of resistance to the Executive Oversight Committee probe of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI).

The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the controversial transfer of power that took place February of last year. It has so far interviewed senior military officers, police officers and senior officials of both the current and former government. The former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) chiefs have claimed that former President Mohamed Nasheed had no choice but to resign on February 7, 2012, following a police and military mutiny.

The Committee previously requested President Hassan to hand over statements of key figures of the former government and military officials given to CoNI.


Brigadier General Nilam suspended following testimony to Government Oversight Committee

Former head of military intelligence, Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam, has been relieved of his duties at the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), by Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.

According to a statement by the Defence Ministry yesterday, General Nilam was suspended because a case involving the former head of military intelligence was under investigation.

The statement did not provide further details or specify the nature of the investigation and alleged offence.

The move follows the Brigadier General’s testimony (Dhivehi) to parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on January 9, which was made public on Wednesday after MPs on the committee voted to publicise minutes of the closed session.

During the past two weeks, the oversight committee has summoned high-ranking officers of the security services for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.

In his testimony to the committee, Brigadier General Nilam said he was asked by Defence Minister Nazim if he believed that the transfer of power amounted to a coup or a revolution.

Nilam said he replied that, “looking at it academically, this has all the characteristics of a coup.”

“I have even looked into this and studied this along principles that academicians would consider. So I told [Nazim] that this has all the characteristics. He didn’t say anything else,” Nilam said.

Asked by pro-government Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan if he believed there was a coup d’etat, Nilam said based on his experience in military intelligence, “this has roots that go much deeper.”

Brigadier General Nilam was seen in leaked video from inside the MNDF headquarters showing a frenzied former President Nasheed ordering officers to go out and confront the mutinying police on the morning of February 7.

Responding to questions by committee members, Nilam explained that the president, defence minister and chief of defence forces were issuing orders because “the [military] lines weren’t working.”

“I was really saddened. This was not something I ever saw inside the military. There has been insubordination. There are former officers here [among MPs on the committee]. There is insubordination. But things have never happened like this in such an operation,” Nilam said at the committee.

Nilam added that he saw a president in a “very helpless” state, which was “a sad moment.”

“We are entrusted with the duty and responsibility of protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty. It is truly disturbing to see something like from [the military],” he said.

The brigadier general said he was present when current Defence Minister Nazim relayed the message for the president’s “unconditional” resignation.

He also noted that military officers banged the president’s car with their boots while he was taken to the President’s Office from the military headquarters and that current Chief of Defence Forces General Ahmed Shiyam took over as acting chief before President Nasheed officially resigned.

“There are lot of questions here. I believe that this should be investigated thoroughly and looked into. These are very serious matters,” he said.

Under Maldivian law, Brigadier General Nilam continued, a “coup d’etat” could not be carried out without the military’s involvement as the offence is specified and prohibited in the Defence Forces Act of 2008.

Asked by the committee’s chair, MP Ali Waheed, if there was a threat to the life of President Nasheed had he not resigned, Nilam said weapons were stored because there was fear of live armour being used and that the mutinying police were armed with riot gear.

Nilam also revealed that the military did not have “any control of [presidential residence] Muleeage after 7:00am or 7:30am in the morning.”

Police and ex-servicemen entered Muleeage after 7:15am on February 7, 2012, he added.

First Lady Laila Ali and the president’s daughters were reportedly taken to a safe location in the morning.

Continuing his testimony, Brigadier General Nilam said he overheard President refuse assistance from two foreign nations before he decided to resign.

“[The President] said this is an internal matter. He answered both calls in much the same way,” he said.

Nilam added that there was possibility of bloodshed “if it dragged on” and that the president’s life was in danger.

Meanwhile, former Chief Superintendent of Police Mohamed Jinah was also relieved of his duties last week following his testimony to the oversight committee.


MDP alleges “mutinying” police officers planning Male’ “havoc” as attentions turn to CNI conclusion

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has alleged mutinying sections of the police plan to create unrest and violence on the streets of male’ as senior politicians begin contemplating the release of findings by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) next week.

The opposition party has claimed “rumours”were being spread across the nation by “mutinying” officers that certain sections of the police planned to take to the capital’s streets to create “havoc” as the CNI’s findings were released to the public in order to “protect” the current government. In a statement, the MDP said it was calling on the nation’s police and military institutions to be vigilant over accusations that certain officers may try to use violent tactics to create instability.

The CNI, formed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the controversial transfer of power that brought his government into power on February 7, is set to publicly release its findings on Thursday (August 30).

Senior figures on both sides of the country’s political divide have in recent days been addressing the potential for violence between protesters and national security forces once the outcome of the CNI’s investigation is known.

Speaking to local media this week as part of coverage of his official visit to Sri Lanka, President Waheed said that no party will be allowed to create unrest in relation to the CNI report and its findings.

President Waheed, during the trip, has also continued to reject opposition allegations that he had come to power in a “coup d’etat”, claiming in the international media that the Commonwealth has been “premature” in its calls for elections to be held during 2012.

“Since they made the demand, these people (the Commonwealth) have come to their senses,” the president was reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news service as telling media gathered in Colombo. “The Commonwealth has realised that they made a demand that cannot be met. It was a premature demand.”

The Commonwealth Secretariat was not able to respond to queries by Minivan News at the time of press. President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza was also not responding to calls to clarify the comments.

The president yesterday announced that he would also be inviting political representatives to fresh All Party talks within the next few days. However, the government has maintained that it would not discuss potential outcomes of the CNI until the commission’s findings are released.

The President’s Office last week said the government was not considering “special” preparations to address the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), adding it not expect any “abnormal” outcome from the report that would see its legitimacy questioned.


MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has claimed that the government was “irresponsible” for not agreeing a “ managed transition” in order to set out a plan to deal with the potential outcomes from the CNI’s findings.

Despite having previously agreed on August 14 to a proposal to discuss three different potential scenarios regarding the CNI’s conclusions, Ghafoor alleged the government has failed to respond to the suggestion by August 18 as promised by Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen at the time.

“It is the responsibility of the government to address how to move forward with the CNI outcomes. So far we are the only ones to propose a possible solution,” he said. “What happens if the CNI should rule it was a coup? We would then have a situation where the people who are in power having to take action against themselves.”

However, the MDP’s allegations that certain elements within the police were potentially planning acts of violence in the country were condemned by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) today.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan New that the party’s comments reflected what it said were attempts by former President Mohamed Nasheed to “erode public trust” in the police and create “fear” among the general public.

“The police are always professional. Right now we are taking precautions regarding information we are receiving,” he claimed

Haneef added that the authorities would be stationing officers around the country, adding that the police would “not tolerate unrest”.


Female police officer attacked near MDP protest area

A female police officer was attacked on Friday night while she was waiting near a food cart on Boduthakurufaanu Magu with friends, police have said.

In a statement, police said the officer was attacked by people gathered near ‘Usgandu’, an area given by Male City Council to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to conduct political activities, following the dismantling of their protest site at the tsunami monument by authorities.

Police said the incident occurred at about 9:20pm on Friday night while the officer was not in police uniform.

According to the police, the woman suffered injuries to her back and chest and was admitted to ADK hospital for treatment.

Police are trying to determine the persons responsible for this attack, police said.

Speaking at a meeting held with police officers and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers last Saturday night at Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, President Dr Waheed Hassan Manik said the police and army had been having hard time over past three months, and that the government understood that it needed to increase the security of police and army officers, their property and families.

Newspaper ‘Haveeru’ reported Waheed as telling the police and army officers that he appreciated the work of security forces, and condemned accusations made by people against police and army officers as an attempt to cause public disturbance.

In the meeting, Dr Waheed also assured the police and army that he and his cabinet ministers would not give any unlawful orders to the security forces, reported Haveeru.

In March, two police officers, one male and a female, were attacked by a group of people while they were patrolling on the roads near Nalahiya Hotel in Maafannu Ward.

They were admitted to hospital for treatment, according to police.

Three men were also alleged to have entered a policeman’s house with knives.

In the same month a group of two men attacked a police officer and his two brothers on the island of Gemanafushi in Gaafu Alifu Atoll.

Police at the time stated that two men assaulted the police officer and fled, and an hour later stabbed the officer’s younger brother in the head and another of his brothers in the stomach.