Waheed’s “unprecedented” decision to stay “has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice”: US

The US government has said it is deeply concerned by President Mohamed Waheed’s “unprecedented decision” to remain in power past the mandate of his presidency, which expired on November 10.

“This action has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice,” stated the US Embassy in Colombo.

“The democratic process must be supported by quickly concluding a free, fair, transparent and inclusive runoff election that results in the prompt inauguration of the new president. In the lead up to the November 16 second round vote, it is important to avoid violence and for the police and military to show restraint and respect the human rights of all Maldivian citizens,” the US Embassy stated.

Cabinet ministers revealed yesterday that Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office late on Sunday evening prepared to resign and hand over power to the Speaker of Parliament, as stipulated by Article 124 of the constitution, but claimed to have convinced him otherwise. His Vice President, Waheed Deen, had resigned that morning.

Minivan News understands that defence chiefs arrived at the President’s Office prior to Waheed’s address to the nation, initially scheduled for 10:30pm on Sunday. The address was delayed an hour, before Waheed appeared and said he would resign on November 16, the date scheduled for the delayed run-off vote.

“Many Maldivians, international organisations and countries are pressuring me to resign and temporarily hand over the government to the People’s Majlis Speaker. On the other hand, even more citizens want me to stay on, to continue with administration of the country, to carry out my duty,” Waheed claimed.

After making the statement, Waheed and his wife were escorted off Male to the presidential retreat of Aarah, as violent protests erupted in the capital.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird slammed the Supreme Court’s “disappointing” decision to delay the run-off vote until after the expiry of the presidential term, which he said “undermines both the Maldives’ constitution and the people’s faith in elections.”

“The term of the current government has now expired without a newly elected government to replace it. This is the case despite two free and fair elections over the last two months,” Baird remarked.

Transparency Maldives echoed these concerns, stating it was “deeply concerned that the people of the Maldives have been denied the right to elect a President before the constitutional five-year term of the incumbent government expired on 11 November 2013.”

Transparency conducted the largest election observation with 400 observers across the country and at overseas polling booths, and praised the Elections Commission’s conduct of the revote on November 9 as peaceful, credible and “well-administered despite challenges.”

Terming the Maldive’s current situation a “constitutional crisis”, Transparency said it was “regrettable that political actors failed to find a democratically inclusive solution to the constitutional crisis that respects the spirit of the Constitution. The spirit of the Constitution reflects the basic democratic principle that state power must always lie with the people and their elected representatives.”


Translation: Leaked ‘coup agreement’

The following translation is of a document apparently signed and stamped by then opposition political parties on December 29, 2011, outlining a planned overthrow of the Nasheed government on February 24, 2012. Nasheed resigned amid a police-led mutiny on February 7, 2012.  Parties involved have rejected the document’s authenticity – read the full story here.

Download the original document in Dhivehi

1. Introduction

As the current President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge, has disrespected Islam as well as the country’s laws and regulations, declared blatantly anti-Islamic sentiments, obstructed the enforcement of Islamic hadd [punishments] in the Maldives, carried out laadheenee (irreligious or secular) actions, illegally arrested politicians, committed many acts that undermine the dignity of the country’s courts, and since the fraternal political groups have determined that he is unfit to remain as President of the Maldives, this agreement is made among the fraternal political groups to remove him completely from Maldivian politics and do what is required to completely erase the Christian-influenced Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from the Maldivian political arena.

2. The fraternal political groups

  1. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)
  2. Civil Alliance
  3. Adhaalath Party
  4. Jumhooree Party
  5. Dhivehi Qaumee Party
  6. Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DQP)
  7. People’s Alliance

3. Plan for the 24 February 2012 Symposium

3.1 Purpose of the symposium

The purpose of the symposium on 24 February 2012 is to make it a day of civil obedience across the Maldives with the aim of toppling the MDP government and establishing a national unity government formed among the fraternal political groups. And to overthrow the government within 24 hours of the beginning of the symposium.

As the fraternal political groups believe that it is important to carry this out in a way that would avoid foreign influence in Maldivian political affairs brought about because of the manner of changing the government, it has been agreed that this can be conducted most smoothly with the assistance of Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik. Therefore, the first order of business has to be worsening the relationship between MDP and the vice president, seeking the approval of senior figures of the vice president’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party and his close associates and bringing them into this.

The assurance needed from the vice president is that he will immediately assume the office of the presidency if Nasheed leaves the post under any circumstances, form a national unity government on the advice of the fraternal political groups, endure everything faced during this process, conduct the affairs of the nation until the presidential election in 2013, pave the way for the 2013 election, and not contest in the election in 2013.

The assurance that the fraternal political groups will give to the vice president will be to provide any and all assistance that he may require in this. And provide the assurance that he will remain in power until 11 November 2013.

3.2 How the government will be changed

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, 24 February 2012, a mass protest in the form of symposium will begin in all inhabited islands of the country. The protest will begin in Male’ at the tsunami memorial area. After the protest begins, a demand from the participants will be proposed to the government. The only demand of this protest will be for President Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge to resign without any conditions as he has insulted Islam and violated the laws of the country.

3.3.1 Going to Republic Square

The government will give a deaf ear to the demand for resignation. Therefore, after offering a five-hour period to comply with the demand, at 9 o’clock at night the participants of the protest will head towards the Republic Square divided into three groups. It has been agreed that protests will take place in all inhabited islands at this time.

The first group with Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will go past Kalhuthuhkala Koshi [military barracks near southwest harbour] on Boduthakurufaanu Magu and stop near MMA west of the Republic Square.

[Text missing]

The third group with PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will leave the tsunami memorial area in vehicles, go down Majeedhee Magu, turn near mercury to Orchid Magu and stop near Reefside at the intersection of Republic Square and Chandanee Magu.

Help will be received from former police and army officers to overcome obstacles posed by police and the army to the protesters reaching these areas. PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will coordinate this.

3.3.2 Showing stringency

After all the participants of the protest gather at the areas surrounding the Republic Square, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will address the police from the group near the MMA [building]. The Sheikh’s speech will mostly focus on Mohamed Nasheed’s laadheenee [irreligious or secular] ideology and convincing police and the army that obeying the commands of such a person with a laadheenee ideology is completely haram [forbidden] in Islam. The Sheikh along with different scholars will speak on this subject for 45 minutes.

After that, Abdulla Mohamed, representing the civil groups, and other civil society persons will give speeches.  Their speeches will mostly focus on stability in the Maldives, establishing justice and the economy under Nasheed’s rule. They will speak on this topic for 45 minutes.

After the speeches by the civil society persons, the first person to talk from among the politicians in the group gathered in front of Reefside will be PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer. Umar Naseer will begin his speech by calling on those in the front ranks of the government to join the protesters as President Mohamed Nasheed has not resigned by the time the period offered to him had elapsed. An opportunity will be offered to those in the front ranks of the police and army to either resign or step aside from their posts. The speeches will be interrupted for 30 minutes to provide an opportunity for these officers to do so.

It is not expected that cooperation will be forthcoming within 30 minutes from those working in the senior ranks of the police. However, a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel from the military has agreed to vacate their posts and refuse to carry out their responsibilities. This will be first announced via DhiTV. And a live interview with the resigned brigadier general will be brought on DhiTV. After this news, Umar Naseer’s speech will resume to raise the spirit of the protesters and divide the ranks of the police and the army. And he will call for the protesters to step forward and for the police and army to step back. The protesters will clash with police and attempt to enter the Republic Square by force.

3.3.3 Receiving the assistance of police

While the protesters face the police and army with severity, the special platoon of police on duty in front of MMA will abandon their command, enter the Republic Square and sit down in protest. At this time, some protesters will get an opportunity to enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that an MNDF [Maldives National Defence Force] backup will cordon off the area.

Complete assurance has been received from friendly police that this police platoon will be arranged to be on duty in front of MMA. The PPM deputy leader has met the officers of this platoon individually and briefed them on what they have to do. Their demands have now been taken care of.

Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan will announce on MNBC One that the striking or protesting police have disobeyed orders and that they will be arrested and taken inside Bandaara Koshi [main military headquarters in front of Republic Square]. A retired former colonel will communicate with the defence minister concerning this and provide assistance to him. PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim, will monitor this.

3.3.4 Friendly police and friendly military playing their role

Following the arrest of the protesting police, a senior team of friendly police will begin working on their behalf. They will claim that the military cannot arrest police and request discussions between a senior police team and the defence ministry.  This team will comprise of 9 senior police officers and former police officers. When the defence ministry says that there is no room for negotiation regarding this, the team will command all police to abandon their command and gather at the Republic Square helipad.

[Text missing]

Police will be informed under the guidance of Umar Naseer. And all police will be informed via SMS. This will incite hatred of the police towards the military and the coordination established between police and the military will be lost. And at this time, protesters gathered near the Shaheed Hussain Adam building [police headquarters] will get the opportunity to break the barricade and enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that the military will strongly look after the MMA and Reefside area.

3.3.5 Media and communication

The media will play the most important role at this juncture. DhiTV, DhiFM and VTV will claim that the police and the military are preparing for a major confrontation. And former senior police officers will call in the media for all police to go to the Republic Square in defence of their brothers.

Phones will be used as the primary mode of communication to carry this out. Friendly police will ensure by this time that communication-jamming facilities will be damaged beyond use. If phone calls and SMS are jammed due to any reason, messages that must be sent to police and the army will be delivered directly from DhiTV and DhiFM. Under such circumstances, these two media will become the primary communication and the communication coordination team will shift to the DhiTV studio.

3.3.6 Assistance from the military

As preparations would be underway for a major confrontation between police and the military, and because of the large number of police gathered at the Republic Square, the numbers of the military in Male’ at the time being small compared to the police, the police being in possession of non-lethal weapons, the most important power of the military being lethal weapons, and the fear of serious bloodshed in the country if the military uses lethal weapons against police, and after informing senior military officers of the superiority of police over the military, all of the military troops will be called on, with the assistance of the defence minister, to lay down their arms and join the protest.

It is believed that under the circumstances, with the situation brought to this [state], the military will have no other option and will accept the proposal. If they do not accept, the defence minister will do it forcefully.

3.3.7 Arresting Mohamed Nasheed

Following cooperation from the police and military, as it is the responsibility of the SPG [Special Protection Group] military officers to protect the president at such a time, Mohamed Nasheed will be taken out of Male’ by them under the pretence of protection. Mohamed Nasheed will be kept at Aarah [presidential retreat island] under military custody.

3.3.8 Supreme Court ruling that Mohamed Nasheed’s presidency is illegitimate

As the country’s order and stability would be lost with matters at this state, with the police and military clashing and the military not obeying Mohamed Nasheed’s command, a case will be filed at the Supreme Court requesting a ruling declaring that Nasheed has been found incapable of performing the duties of the President as there could be serious discord, unrest and bloodshed in the country if he remained in the post. Assurances have been received that the Supreme Court will issue such a ruling or court order to that effect when the case is filed.

The Supreme Court will sentence Nasheed to jail and bar him from politics for life because of the illegal activities committed while he was president, the allegations of efforts to wipe out Islam from the Maldives, and for the crime of illegally detaining politicians.

Filing the case at the Supreme Court and discussions concerning this matter will be carried out under the supervision of Qaumee Party President Dr Hassan Saeed. Dr Hassan Saeed and Ahmed Nazim from the People’s Alliance will carry out lobbying efforts to secure the support of a majority from the Supreme Court bench. Assurances have been given by PPM that Azima Shukoor will work to secure the assistance of the Chief Justice.

3.3.9 Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik taking the oath of office

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court passed upon Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik will take the oath of office and become the president. After the swearing-in, Dr Mohamed Waheed will immediately dissolve the cabinet.

After the president dissolves the cabinet, the fraternal political groups together with the president will carry out forming a new cabinet and appointing ministers. The newly formed cabinet will comprise of 10 ministries. As the defence ministry and home ministry are important for national security, ministers will first be appointed for these two ministries. The two ministers that shall be appointed are,

  1. Defence Ministry. Appointing current Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan to the post.
  2. Home Ministry. Appointing PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, on behalf of the party, as the Home Minister.

In addition, ministers will be appointed to the rest of the ministries on an equal basis among the fraternal political groups. And a vice president will be appointed as agreed upon by the fraternal political groups.

The following persons shall be appointed as the senior officers of the police and military,

  1. Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim will be appointed to the post of Chief of Defence Force.
  2. Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz will be appointed to the post of Commissioner of Police.

4. Dissolving MDP’s political activities

As the fraternal political groups have agreed that exerting influence upon the current leadership of the MDP and taking over control of the MDP is of utmost importance, it has been agreed to do the following to dissolve the current MDP leadership,

4.1 MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi

As Dr Ibrahim Didi is politically weak and not a political person despite being someone paving the way to advance politically, it has been noted that controlling MDP through Dr Didi will be easy. To this end, it has been decided to secure MDP’s presidential ticket for Dr Didi.

With the likelihood of MDP splitting being high as a result of the difficulties Dr Didi will face under his leadership from Mohamed Nasheed’s friends, Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim will provide assistance to Dr Didi at such a time.

[Text missing]

As Alhan Fahmy has been noted as someone with the capability of rallying and uniting MDP supporters in the absence of Mohamed Nasheed, it has been agreed that removing Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership is essential. It has also been noted that Alhan Fahmy does not have the opportunity of contesting in the 2013 election or becoming a vice presidential candidate.

It has been agreed that efforts to remove Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership will be carried out under the supervision of PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim.

4.3 MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik

It has been agreed that keeping MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik in his post would be fine. It has been noted that there is room to forcefully do things through him by using the corruption cases involving his Heavy Load company and intimidating him through his business dealings.

As Moosa Manik is seen as someone who would contest for the MDP’s 2013 presidential ticket, he has been noted as a leader who has the approval of MDP’s common members. Therefore, it has been noted that Moosa Manik could be used in the efforts to divide MDP and create antagonism towards Dr Didi within the MDP. It has also been agreed that a group could be formed under Moosa Manik to protest against the new government and create unrest. It has been discussed that the end of MDP could be brought about through these protests.

4.4 MDP National Council

As Mohamed Nasheed directly controls the MDP’s National Council, it has been agreed that controlling the council and bribing members would be important. And it has been agreed to hold a meeting in the coming month of January to formulate a long-term plan to that end.

5. Securing finance

It has been calculated and agreed that a total of 43 (forty-three) million rufiyaa will have to be spent to complete the matters stated in this agreement and to fulfil the demands of the persons who will provide assistance. The funding will be secured through the political parties involved in this agreement and supportive businessmen. PA parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nazim will be tasked with collecting the funds and spending it in accordance with the agreement. And 20% (8.4 million rufiyaa) has been handed over to Nazim by the Jumhooree Party on 26 December 2011.

6. Maintaining secrecy

This agreement, the content of the agreement and any affairs conducted in connection with this agreement shall not be shared or revealed to anyone other than those who sign the agreement. As this is an agreement that is of utmost importance made in defence of Islam and the Maldives, it should be considered that safeguarding this agreement and the information contained therein is done in defence of Islam and the Maldives, and we agree to not share any of this with any other person.

7. Resolution

On this day, 29 December 2011, I agree with a sound mind and following extensive discussion to completely carry out the aforementioned matters, as they are necessary for the defence of Islam and the nation, with the involvement of everyone party to this agreement.

Download the original document in Dhivehi


“A country does not have to be invaded to lose its sovereignty”: President Waheed

The following is a translation of President Mohamed Waheed’s address on the occasion of Maldives Independence Day 2013. Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s speech is available here.

Former President Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice of the Maldives, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the People’s Majlis, beloved citizens of Maldives,

Assalaam ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakaatuh.

On this momentous occasion, our proud Independence Day, I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings to all Maldivians. As I stand here, amidst the red, green and white decorations, my heart is brimming with nationalistic pride.

My first and foremost duty tonight is to congratulate the nine individuals who received the Honour of the State Award. I thank them for their services to this country. Among the recipients, I wish to recognise the services of one particular dignitary.

One of the Honour of the State Awards given tonight was the Nishann Ghazeege Izzaitheri Verikamuge Izzai.

This is the highest award of the State, which was given to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The Award, Nishaan Ghazeege Izzaitheri Verikamuge Izzai, is given in the honour of this country’s most brave warrior, our most beloved national hero, Al-Sultan-al-Ghazee Mohamed Thakurufaanu Al-Auzam Siri Savaadhee’tha Mahaaradhun.

This award’s first recipient was the hero of our national independence, the former President of the Maldives Sumuvul Ameer Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefaanu. He was awarded this honour 46 years ago, on 9 February 1967. The other recipient of this award was Queen Elizabeth II, who was given this award 41 years ago, on 15 March 1972.

I am aware of divergent views about the Government’s decision to award President Gayoom this honour, in different ways. Some people interpret this as a political decision. I however differ with such interpretations. I believe that those who have served the country in a multitude of manners and for many years are national treasures. The service of those individuals should be recognised and they should be awarded deservingly. Such distinguished individuals should be allowed to live a quiet and peaceful life, away from politics. They should not be demeaned because of different political persuasions. And they should not be disregarded because of personal grudges.

The Government decided to give this award to President Gayoom in recognition of his invaluable contributions to the betterment of this country, and to accord him the status that he truly deserves. I thank him for his service to this country. I wish you, Mr President, good health and happiness.

My fellow citizens,

Today is our independence day. Today we are remembering the battle fought by the Three Brothers from Utheemu and Dhandhehelu for this country; the courage and talent shown by Dhonbandaarain; how Ali Rasgefaanu sacrificed his life for this country; the resourcefulness shown by Ibrahim Nasir and Abdul Sattar Moosa Didi in their efforts to secure Maldives’ independence from the United Kingdom, and become a member of the UN; the resolve shown by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and our defence forces on 3rd November 1988 as they fought foreign aggressors. Each of these individuals played a large part in securing and safeguarding the independence of this country. Their service is invaluable. And without their service, our country would not have survived. We will be eternally grateful for their service.

My fellow citizens:

When I became the President of this country on 7 February 2012, the country was in a dire state. 2012 was the very tumultuous successor to a series of tumultuous years. It had been nearly a month since a Maldivian national had been arrested extra judicially and held hostage by the Government.

The Government had declared that the rulings of the Supreme Court would not be enforced, and that the Constitution was placed on abeyance. There was unrest on the streets. February 6 was the day that the government had decided to lock up the courts and establish a separate judiciary.

The day ended with no peace in sight. By the next morning, the situation had escalated. The defence force and the police, who are tasked by law to protect the peace, had turned on each other. Some members of the defence force, possibly under pressure, fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the police. The command and control within the defence forces was lost. While the defence forces and the police confronted each other, ordinary citizens started attacking each other; some were using tear gas, bullets and shields, while others used spears and clubs. The country was embroiled in confrontation; on the brink of a civil unrest. It was a frightening and critical time; a time when the country’s sovereignty and the safety of its citizens were at risk.

Moments after the resignation of the President was announced on media, the Speaker of the People’s Majlis called and asked me to come to the People’s Majlis to take the oath of office of President. The Speaker informed me that he had received the resignation of the President and constitutionally the Vice-President shall succeed to the office of the President in that instance, the Speaker had arranged the swearing ceremony to take place at 3 pm at the Majlis House.

As the elected Vice President of the country I felt that it was my constitutional obligation to take up the responsibilities of governing the country during that time of unrest; take over the wheel of a country in such a precarious situation and establish peace and stability, and to steer the country to safety. In doing so, my focus was on engaging as many people as possible in the spirit of reconciliation, leaving aside personal differences and try to make everyone come together.

The days that followed were not easy. The institutions that were tasked with safeguarding the priorities and policies of the government were not functioning effectively. Political differences had nearly resulted in creating deep cleavages within the society. While cooling down the heat within the country was difficult, the challenges posed from external sources were much bigger.

My fellow citizens:

It was the period in which the independence and sovereignty of the country was challenged most profoundly. External forces had infiltrated into our domestic affairs to the extent that such forces started dictating what should be taught in our schools. The government had become so weak that the leader of this country could be easily forced to sign agreements that directly affected the sovereignty of the country. Foreigners were deciding when our Constitution should be amended and when Elections should be held. Today, because of the patience and hard work of the past months, these things have slowly turned around for the better. We should ensure that they remain so.

Fellow citizens:

The Maldives is a responsible member of the international community. We have certain obligations and we will fulfill them. Yet, if that means surrendering our responsibility to govern the country to someone else, then it is a problem. We may be a small country. We may be in need of foreign aid for education, training, financial and technical assistance. Our economy may be dependent on catering to tourists from around the world. But our independence should not be the price we pay to meet these needs. We have a proud and illustrious history. This land has been enriched with the blood of those who sacrificed their lives for this country.

Fellow citizens:

With Allah’s will, two years from today, we will celebrate our 50th Independence Day. After 78 years of being a British protectorate, we earned the right to conduct our own foreign relations in 1965. The right to decide the objectives and priorities of our foreign relations in ways that best meet the needs of our country. Forty-Eight years later, what we should be asking ourselves is whether we are able to make full use of that independence.

Today, a country does not have to be invaded, or occupied for it to lose its independence and sovereignty. A country might not enjoy independence and sovereignty even though it might still be a full member of the UN. We should be mindful of situations like this. Independence is something that needs to be safeguarded from within and from outside. Today, it is hard to separate internal and external independence.

My fellow citizens:

In today’s globalised world, economic independence is one of the most important elements of a country’s independence. In many instances, external and internal independence depend on economic independence.

When I took over the leadership of this country, government debt was at 23 billion rufiya. Total amount of unpaid bills amounted to 2 billion Rufiyaa. The State’s expenses were not being managed with the revenues being generated monthly. Public companies had been weakened. After unrelenting work, by Allah’s grace, things are slowly improving. Public companies are recovering. Now we have paid 1.7 billion of the outstanding bills.

This money came at the expense of services to the Government had to provide to the people. It was at the expense of recruiting highly trained teachers and doctors. At the expense of developing our schools. And at the expense of building homes and offering family services.

My fellow citizens:

In an interdependent world, external and internal independence can only be achieved with economic independence. When the State can pay wages with its own money. When basic services can be provided to the people with revenues generated by the State. If the Government’s revenue is 9 or 12 billion rufiya, and our expenditure is 22 billion, we cannot sustain our national independence.

The government is able to relieve the people from begging for money to buy medicine. Yet, if the Government could do that only by begging for money itself from other countries, could we call that an independent country? If the country depends on the goodwill of someone else for paying salaries, fuel, food, and subsidies, would country be able to protect its independence? Sovereignty in this case, might become something that is only written in the constitution.

Dear citizens,

With lots of hard work, the economy has now begun to recover. Yet, more remains to be done. Businesses need to be expanded and jobs created. Investment must be increased and massive efforts need to be put into developing various industries. Foreign investors provide the most important boost to the economy. We must all accept that Maldives’ economy lacks sufficient drive to attract big investment. Yet, we, Maldivians must decide how much foreign investment we want. We must be in charge of driving our economy.

This is our country. We will safeguard our independence. No one else will do that for us. And I have no doubt that we can do that. It was us who sent away the Borah Merchants. We were in a much more dire state then. Maldivians were much poorer when we gained independence from Britain. Yet, Maldivians took charge that day, and took on the development of this country: we were capable and courageous Maldivians. So, why wouldn’t we be able to develop a key component of our economy, our main gateway, our airport?

My fellow citizens:

There are lessons to be learnt from this celebration. Just like there are two sides for almost every event, there are two sides whenever we lose our independence. A fellow Maldivian takes part in every such incident: every time our nationalism was threatened; every time we fought battle for independence; every time a Maldivian was widowed in such battles, and every time a child was orphaned in such battles.

In today’s world, attacks on countries are not limited to guns and swords. We must be vigilant to attacks in various manners, and from outside and within the country. We must be aware of the efforts being made by certain factions to dominate our economy. We must be vigilant of the efforts being made to destroy our religious unity.

We must be attentive to the efforts being made to damage the tourism sector of the Maldives. We should know the people responsible for these campaigns, and what they have to gain from these efforts. Whether it is trying to dominate our economy, or to destroy our religious unity, we must be concerned about their intentions. And we must not give these people any opportunity to do so.

It is not those that are in decision-making roles that will feel the pain of direct attacks to our economy. The money lost because of every tourist that boycotts the country is not only a loss to the resort owners. It is a loss to the tax revenues generated by the government from tourists. It is loss from the education and healthcare provided by those taxes. It is a loss for the workers at those resorts and the families they support: it is a loss to their children’s tuition and their parent’s healthcare costs.

My fellow citizens:

The new Constitution we ratified in 2008, was a step towards becoming a modern democracy. In this Constitution, we wrote a lot about freedom. Freedom of speech and expression: freedom of assembly and movement; judges and a judiciary free from the influence of the Government: an Elections Commission and a People’s Majlis free from the influence of the President: civil servants who cannot be removed by the President: a free and unrestricted media. All the things accepted by the most mature democracies and developed countries of the world.

Yet, we need to ask ourselves whether we have reached the necessary democratic maturity to sustain these values. We must also ask ourselves whether the objectives of the Constitution have been achieved. If our freedom encroaches on the rights of others, it is not the objective of the Constitution. If our shared spaces and parks have no space for our children, but are arenas used for political purposes all day long, we are not protecting the rights of the children as envisioned in the Constitution. It is not upholding the value and spirit of democracy if people accused of serious offences occupy senior positions of the State.

Freedom is something much more sacred. It has boundaries. It has limits. It does not protect only the most vocal and the most powerful people. But protects the weakest and the most vulnerable as well.

Such disregard to democratic values takes place not because of an inherent problem with the Constitution: or because of the weakness of the legal framework. Our thinking and actions must be more mature and developed than today.

Today, we are seeing people taking advantage of a nascent constitutional system with several loopholes: people flippantly widening those loopholes, if it is in their interest.

In a pluralist society, there will always be differences of opinion. An open society will think differently. But now we are seeing people being killed because of differences in political opinion. We do not seem to hesitate to invite outside influences into our domestic issues when our opinions differ. We do not seem to hesitate to sell our national assets for political power. This is not only sad, but also highly dangerous. If these are allowed to continue, the State would fail, and we would lose control of our own affairs. The repercussions of such a failure will not only be felt by some of us: but every single one of us.

Much work needs to be done to correct the situation. The Constitution has to be amended. But does the State have sufficient strength to carry out these big reforms? Not only is there lack of human and financial resources. But can decisions be made for the common good despite all the different ideas and ideologies? Can public interest triumph personal interest? Can we answer the distress call of our nation?

My fellow citizens:

Encroaching on other people’s rights is not freedom. Inviting outside forces into our domestic issues is not freedom either. This is not something that any Maldivian should be allowed to do. Nor should any foreigner be allowed to do that on our land. For, the freedom and independence that we enjoy have been handed to us for safekeeping. Handed down from our forefathers to be passed down to future generations. Our independence is something that every person born to these white sand beaches, has worked for.

One of the most important statesmen produced by the Maldives, the late Ibrahim Shihab once said that there is a lesson in the fact that the national flag that represents our independence is tethered on two ends. If it is allowed to flutter without any restrictions, it will fall to the ground and get muddied. Thus, there are limits to freedom as well. There are limits to competition. And there are limits to feuds as well. There are things we are not allowed to do, even in anger or jealousy. That is because we are Maldivians. That is because we are the children of this beloved land.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is our country’s independence day. Tonight is the 19th day of the Holy month of Ramadan. At this moment, in all manner of speaking, I am standing in front of the national flag. Behind the national emblem. We are all gathered near the spot where Shaheed Hussein Adam sacrificed his life for this country. Where I can see the Islamic Centre, which is the symbol of the country’s Islamic identity.

As I stand here tonight, my heart is trying to comprehend the thoughts of young Shaheed Hussain Adam, the twenty-year old soldier, as he lay breathing his last breadth, having tried with his own life to defend his country’s independence. What he must have willed to the people who came after him, who are now responsible for defending this country’s independence. The hope he must have had for the country he had just sacrificed his life for. It is our responsibility to fulfil his wishes. To let the light of independence shine bright. Take care of these responsibilities. Because we are Maldivians. Because we are the children of this beloved land.

May Allah, the Almighty, bring you all happiness and prosperity. May this beloved nation remain as an independent and free country forever. Aameen.

Wassalaam ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakaatuh.


Comment: Assessing the Presidential Elections

The outcome of any election is always uncertain.

According to reports, the winning party in the Maldives elections requires approximately 120,000 votes to secure the majority.

The MDP has the highest number of registered members; approximately between 45 – 50 thousand whereas the opposition – including the deceased members of Dr. Remote Controlled Waheed’s GIP and the Adhaalath with its recent drive to enlist 10,000 members – does not come close to the MDP’s party strength.

Despite the money (whether black or white is not known) Gasim and Yameen are prepared to spend to increase their voter base at the last minute, the ground reality is the combined forces of these two parties’ membership strength cannot compete with the MDP either.

The Adhaalath, at the moment part of the GIP coalition, is too factionalised and have lost the people’s support due to the fact that they have been promoting religion as a tool to woo the voters. Moreover there is no one in the party charismatic enough to swing the voters behind them despite their promotion of a religious agenda targeted at MDP’s Presidential candidate President Nasheed in order to denigrate him on religious grounds.

In fact the strategy has backfired on them. The people were too shrewd and saw threw their machinations. This can be gauged by the number of people attending Adhaalath’s rallies. According to certain reports, even the Majeediyya School band commands a larger following than the Adhaalath Party at present.

Blinded by power, the Sheikhs’ biggest blunder was the fact that they backed the wrong horse in the form of Dr Waheed and a few-die hard Gayoom loyalists in the military whose criteria for loyalty to Islam and the oath taken by them was dependent on the amount of money deposited in their bank accounts.

Dr Waheed, their professed spiritual leader, himself is under controversy over whether he knows how to recite Al-Fatiha, while his children are very much inclined to Hinduism and Christianity. As for Waheed’s religious leanings, while championing the Adhaalath’s hardline Islamic views, his personal beliefs are for anyone to guess.

This leaves the DRP led by Thasmeem – Waheed’s running mate – and the PPM led by former trade minister Yaameen alleged to have stolen millions of dollars of worth public funds – allegations believed by most Maldivians. Their combined strength of party members is again inadequate to challenge the MDP.

The MDP also controls the majority in parliament. The MDP’s biggest asset is the deposed President Nasheed, whose integrity has never been called into question. He has been personally denigrated by all sorts of dirty name calling, but even his most erstwhile enemy former President Gayoom is said to have acceded that Nasheed will not steal from the public coffer.

Whereas all other Presidential candidates, from Yameen to Gasim to President Waheed whom most believe is only warming the seat on behalf of Gayoom loyalists, are all tainted by the brush of corruption. Given half a chance, these people will swallow the entire economy of the Maldives as a whole leaving the middle and lower classes to live in abject poverty.

This has been evident during the past year when Gasim secured Maamigili airport for 99 years for tuppence through the back door, while Yameen’s backer Champa secured the Gan airport. The amount spent on the money for the coup, the alleged US$30,000, has already been recovered, albeit on a long term basis, by the backers of the coup.

The last year has also seen the economy take a nose dive, despite one of the biggest budgets in Maldivian history to be passed so far. Where the money has gone no one knows, but what is certain is the government is on the verge of bankruptcy. Even the police have run out of urine-cups.

When the coup government came in, according to Gasim Ibrahim it raised a billion dollars in selling treasury bills. The interest payable of these comes to US$100 million a year, leaving zero for development projects.

This leaves the silent majority on whom the election is truly dependent upon.

While the election campaign unfolds, certain facts are evident. Gasim, blinded by his hatred of Nasheed, is defaming him in public little realising it only calls attention to his personal shortcomings. Even his loyalist parliamentarians whose loyalty was secured by money no longer wish to associate with him.

Furthermore there are rumors circulating that President Waheed is going to file a case against Gasim for having been once lashed by the courts on grounds of fornication, which makes him ineligible for a Presidential candidate.

“Hate-mongering is counter productive,” says MP Abdul Raheem, former MP for Qasim.

Gasim and Yameen share a common trait: the belief that everyone has a price. When I first met Gasim after several long years, his first question to me was: “how much do you want?” I kept my face deadpan but inside I was seething with anger. Of course there are those who canbe bought but anything that can be bought has no real value. None of these people seem to have grasped this universal fact. Anything of value that can be acquired in this world is through love and struggle.

I’m quite sure the silent majority of the Maldives understands these basic truths. They may take Yaameen’s and Gasim’s money and contend with Waheed’s blackmail and threats of jail, but ultimately when it’s time for the vote to be cast, they will abide by their conscience and decide which is the only viable option for the Maldivians as a whole.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Maafushi Prison inmates petition president over poor conditions

Inmates in Maafushi prison have petitioned President Dr Mohamed Waheed over poor conditions in the prison.

In the petition, the inmates stated that there were people in the prison sentenced to be incarcerated for more than 100 years, calling for the chance to reintegrate into society.

According to the petition, the inmates alleged they were being deprived from basic human rights guaranteed by the constitution, regulations made under the constitution and international treaties the Maldives had signed.

The inmates said that some of the cells were so small there was no space to kneel towards the Qibla during prayer time. They complained they had been able to perform Friday prayers for the past four years and had not been provided with healthy food and clean water.

According to the petition, the daily amount spent on food for each inmate had dropped from MVR95 (US$6.16) to just MVR35 (US$2.26).

The inmates called on Dr Waheed to take urgent measures to ensure food and clean water were provided in the cells.

‘’There are inmates who have serious medical conditions, who are advised by doctors to take medication accordingly, but the prison officers are not providing them the medical treatment as asked by the doctors,’’ the petition stated.

The inmates referred to one incident in which an inmate identified as Mohamed Ibrahim of Seenu Hithadhoo was refused medical treatment, which allegedly resulted in his appendix bursting inside his stomach while he was in the cell.

The petition also claimed that when inmates travelled to Male’ by sea, they were handcuffed to the back of the vessel with no prison officer on standby, which was against safety regulations.

The inmates also claimed that prison officers had banned inmates from marrying another inmate.

The inmates said they regretted remarks by former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel alleging that inmates were homosexual, and alleged the banning of marriages in prison was intended to force inmates into homosexuality.

The petition called on the state to allow inmates to marrying inmates of the opposite sex ,and to fix issues the Maafushi Prison.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad told Minivan News that the office had not received the petition.


Flogging of 15 year-old “tip of the iceberg” of Maldives’ treatment of sex offences: Amnesty’s South Asia Director

The high-profile case of a 15 year-old girl sentenced to flogging in the Maldives after confessing to having had consensual sex is the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the country’s treatment of victims of sexual offences, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Polly Truscott has said.

Following a nine day visit to the country, Truscot told Minivan News that other sexual abuse victims were believed to have had suffered similar treatment under the law as a result of systematic institutional failures.

“Right now, all departments charged with the girl’s welfare are finger pointing and passing the blame,” she said. “But we have met others incarcerated in the country in similar circumstances to this girl.”

“Tip of the iceberg”

Truscott said she had identified serious concerns during her visit as to how young girls and other victims of sexual assault were being treated by authorities.

Truscott raised particular concern over the case of the 15 year-old charged with fornication, after she reportedly admitted to authorities of having “consensual sex” with an unidentified man during investigations into her alleged sexual abuse by her stepfather.

“When this alleged crime was committed, Amnesty was approached by many people asking us to look into the matter. We believes she should not be punished for sexual offences. It is questionable if the girl was also aware as to what she was consenting to,” she said.

Truscott claimed that officials involved in the girl’s care – from the law enforcement team who questioned her, to child protection authorities – had “all failed” in their duties to protect the 15 year-old.

The girl’s case has garnered international attention over the last few months, with over two million people signing a petition on the Avaaz website pledging to target the Maldives’ lucrative tourism industry in order to pressure authorities to drop the charges against the 15 year-old and pursue wider legal reforms to prevent similar cases.

Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal last month slammed what he called the“dubious” motivations behind the petition, alleging the campaign to be “politically motivated”.  He also noted that the Waheed administration had already appealed the case and also pledged to oversee legal reforms.

Truscott said the NGO also remained “disappointed” over a lack of progress by Maldivian authorities in addressing a lack of accountability in punishing the perpetrators of high-profile attacks on media personnel, as well as allegations of excessive police force.

Despite welcoming progress in areas such as allowing for greater media freedoms “over the last 10 years”, she yesterday (April 24) told Minivan News that the NGO continued to hold concerns over the state’s commitment to addressing several human rights issues.

At the conclusion her visit, Truscott said the NGO also held significant concerns regarding judicial independence, as well as wider institutional failures to protect rape victims.

“Enormous progress”: government

Following a meeting between Truscott and President Dr Mohamed Waheed on Wednesday, the government issued a press release stating: “Regional Director Prescott noted the enormous progress made by the Maldives in the fields of human rights, and freedom of assembly and speech.”

Truscott told Minivan News she had raised concerns during her meeting with President Waheed that not enough progress had been made to investigate allegations of “excessive force” by police officers against members of the public following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

“I understand that a few cases have been brought forward by prosecutors, but after a year, this [amount of cases] is disappointing. I had also pressed upon the president the need to bring perpetrators to justice. There is important progress to be made here,” she said.

Media freedom

Addressing the government’s official statement on Amnesty’s findings, Truscott said the NGO believed progress had been made in some areas such as media freedom over the last 10 years.

However, she noted serious attacks over the last 12  months on media such as blogger Hillath Rasheed and reporter Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed. Both men underwent life-saving surgery after being the victims of separate violent attacks in the capital over the last 12 months.

Amnesty International also pointed to concerns over the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali. Truscott said the country was yet to see any meaningful investigations into ensuring justice for the victims of the attacks.

The courts are currently hearing the cases of several suspects charged in connection to Dr Afrasheem’s murder.  Suspects have also been questioned over Aswad’s attack.

However, suspects have yet to have been charged over the attack on blogger Hilath Rasheed in July 2012, when a group of alleged Islamic radicals slashed the throat of the blogger who had been campaigning for religious tolerance.

Rasheed narrowly survived the attack and has since fled the country.

“From having walked the streets here in Male’ I have seen [security] cameras about. But action seems to have been limited,” Truscott said of the case.

Penal code

Legal reforms were another area of concern raised by Amnesty International following its Maldives visit.  Particular attention was drawn to reviews for an amended Penal Code within the country that would allow for the prosecution of offences not presently accounted for.

While at the same time addressing the government’s stated pledges to review the use of punishments such as flogging, Truscott warned against what she called a “move backwards” over the Maldives’ commitments against the use of the death penalty.

“Obviously, Amnesty International is completely against the death penalty,” she said.

Truscott claimed that the recent drafting of any new bills outlining implementation for executions, even in practice, was deemed as a human rights violation.  She said there was no research concluding that executing criminals served as an effective deterrent for serious crimes.

Truscott added that with the draft Penal Code also including provisions that would leave applying the death sentence to the discretion of an individual judge, the whole purpose of codifying laws would be undermined should the bill be passed.

She noted this was a particular concern when considering the recent findings of various international experts such as  UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Judiciary, Gabriela Knaul over the politicised nature of the country’s judicial system.

“To leave Sharia law to the discretion of individual judges is something we believe would be a bad idea,” she added.

Visit purpose

Truscott said that Amnesty International’s main purpose during its visit had been to meet with key state officials as well as other stakeholders.

She noted that while having met with senior officials such as the president and Gender Minister, the NGO had not been able to arrange discussions with Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz or Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed during the visit.

Dr Jameel told Minivan News today that he had been busy at the time of Amnesty International’s request to meet, but had since requested his office to follow up and try and set up talks.

Police Spokesperson Chef Inspector Hassan Haneef was seeking clarification as to whether Commissioner Riyaz had received a request to meet the NGO at time of press.

Amnesty criticism

In September last year, Home Minister Jameel criticised Amnesty International in local media for failing to seek comment from the government when compiling a previous report on the country entitled: “The other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives”.

“They had not sought any comments from the Maldives government. I’m extremely disappointed that a group advocating for fairness and equal treatment had released a report based on just one side of the story,” Jameel told newspaper Haveeru at the time.

Meanwhile, just last month, Human Rights Ambassador of the President’s Office “Sandhaanu” Ahmed Ibrahim Didi accused Amnesty International of “fabricating stories about the human rights situation in the Maldives” and of releasing reports about the Maldives without conducting any studies.

Truscott’s comments were made as preliminary observations following her research visit to the Maldives that commenced April 16.  The NGO has said it will be releasing an official statement on its findings later today.


State seeks High Court ruling on President’s discretion to grant clemency in death sentences

The Maldivian state has sought a High Court ruling on the President’s discretion to commute death sentences to life imprisonment.

During a hearing on Monday in a case filed by five citizens seeking to annul laws granting the President discretionary powers of clemency,  the state attorney said the government would prefer the court itself provided a decision on the matter in accordance with Islamic Sharia.

The state attorney insisted that the decision be made by the court, despite the High Court Judges Bench emphasising that the state must provide an answer since the case concerned a constitutional matter.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer alleged that the state had previously been given a number of opportunities to be answerable to the case against them, and that it had used the excuse of conducting research as a bid to buy time, and waste the time of the court. He asked that the bench accept the state’s request and provide a verdict on the case at the earliest.

In the case’s last hearing held in November 2012, the High Court gave the state the last opportunity to be answerable to the charges against them.

Concluding today’s hearing, the bench announced that it will come to a verdict during the next hearing of the case.

The case, submitted in August 2012, seeks the annulment of Article 5(a.i) and Article 21 of the Clemency Act (2/2010).

Article 5(a.i) states that the punishment for the crime of murder cannot be pardoned, although clemency is allowed under restrictions stated in the Act.

Article 21 states that although it may have been stated otherwise in the Act, if the Supreme Court issues a death sentence, or if it backs a death sentence issued by the lower courts or the High Court, it is at the President’s discretion to grant clemency and transfer it to a life sentence with reference to the condition of the sentenced person, related legal norms, the interests of the state and the principles of humanity.

The case against the state asks for this annulment while referring to Article 10 of the Constitution of the Maldives, which states that no law can be enacted in the country which contradicts Islamic principles.

It then adds that according to Article 268, all legislation ratified in the country should be drafted within the principles detailed in the constitution, and that all laws and articles which do not align with this will be considered invalid.

The case, as reported previously by local media, further states that in Islamic Sharia, only the heir of the victim has the right to grant clemency or mercy to a murderer. It then states that a murderer can only be sentenced to death (ie gisas/retribution) if all heirs of the victim agree to it. It then goes on to say that neither the President nor any state institutions have the right to change a death sentence issued by a court of law.

It further states that should the President have it in his discretion to grant clemency in murder cases, this infringes upon the rights of the living heirs of murder victims.

It cited that the last time a death sentence was implemented in the country was in the year 1953, opining that although courts continued to sentence persons to death, “since then, the country has not had even one leader who has had the courage to implement this sentence.”

They case claims that the failure to implement the death penalty has “ruined this nation”, and that it infringes upon the citizens’ right to live, right to equitable treatment and right to travel among a number of other civil rights.

The case was submitted to court by five individuals; Abdul Maniu Hussain of Anbareege in Haa Alif Atoll Ihavandhoo, Hussain Shaheed of Baazeege in Seenu Atoll Hithadhoo, Abdulla Shiyaz of Naseema Manzil in Lhaviyani Atoll Naifaru, Abdulla Naseer of Boalhadhan’duge in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Gahdhoo and Hassan Waheed of Rankokaa in Haa Dhaalu Atoll Kurin’bi.

Government in support of death penalty implementation

In October 2012, the government announced its intention to introduce a bill to the People’s Majlis in order to guide and govern the implementation of the death penalty in the country.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad at the time referred to the October 2012 murder of religious scholar and MP Afrasheem Ali and stated, “We are having enormous pressure since these high profile murders. We have indications – the talk around the town – that there will be more murders.”

He added that the government had received a large number of calls for implementing the death penalty.

Similar to the ongoing case, in April 2012, MP Ahmed Mahloof from the government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), proposed an amendment to the Clemency Act to ensure that the enforcement of the death penalty be mandatory in the event it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

In December 2012, the Attorney General’s Office completed drafting a bill outlining how the death sentence should be executed in the Maldives, with lethal injection being identified as the state’s preferred method of capital punishment.

However, earlier this year religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has called on Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor to amend the government’s draft bill on the implementation of death penalty, urging that convicts be beheaded or shot instead of given lethal injection.

The bill is currently pending approval by parliament, and has given rise to dissenting opinions on the matter.


Police ask government to revoke Artur brothers’ investor license

An investment license issued by the Tourism Ministry to a pair of Armenian brothers is to be revoked on recommendation of the police, reports local media.

Haveeru reported that police advised the Ministry of Economic Development not to issue an investor license to the Artur brothers, who were alleged to be involved with drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets and other serious crimes in Kenya. The Ministry then reportedly issued a letter to the Tourism Ministry requesting the license be revoked.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef is not responding to calls at time of press.

Photos of the Arturs in the company of Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb emerged on social media last week. The ministers denied involvement in the pair’s business activities, however a letter signed by Adheeb in late January requesting immigration authorities grant the brothers residency permits was later leaked to the media.

Adheeb claimed Artur brothers had previously invested in the country through a registered joint venture company with members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“They complained to me that these partners had [defrauded] them and that their visas had expired,” he said at the time.

“I advised them to leave peacefully and they agreed to sort out their visa and leave. They have now left,” Adheeb said.

According to Haveeru, police advised the Economic Development Ministry revoke the Artur brother’s investment license by saying that the brothers’ presence in the Maldives was “a threat to the economy and security of the country.”

The company ‘Artur Brothers World Connections’, was registered in the Maldives in October 2012, with the Artur brothers holding an 80 percent share in a 61-19 percent split.

French nationals identified as Godzine Sargsyan and Edga Sargsyan had a 10 and 7 percent share, while a Maldivian national Ismail Waseem of H. Ever Chance was listed as holding the remaining 3 percent.

Waseem’s share was subsequently transferred to Abdulla Shaffath of H. Ever Peace on November 25.

A statement on the President’s Office website dated April 4 noted that President Mohamed Waheed was advised in January that the brothers were in the Maldives “but had not broken any laws and were being monitored by the police as a precaution. The administration later decided to ask them to leave once their visa extension expired.”

“The Artur brothers are no longer in the Maldives nor do they currently hold visas to return. The President, along with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Defence and National Security, and the Maldives Police Service are looking into any irregular dealings during the time the Artur brothers and their associates were here and will determine if there were any breaches in protocol or conduct that need to be addressed,” the statement read.

However Immigration Controller Mohamed Ali told local media this week that while Sargasyan Artur had left the Maldives on March 31, given issues with the country’s border control system “there are questions surrounding the second brothers’ exit from the Maldives.”

Meanwhile, reports in local media today (April 8 ) suggested that Zaidul Khaleel, General Manager of the Club Faru resort, operated by the state-owned Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), had been dismissed after he was found to have paid the brothers’ US$6000 bill.

A spokesperson for the MTDC told Minivan News the company would shortly be issuing a statement on the matter as there were “heavy factual inaccuracies in the public domain and on electronic media”.

The brother’s activities in the Maldives have sparked substantial local interest following their dramatic departure from Kenya, after they allegedly pulled guns on uncooperative customs officials.

Subsequent investigative reports in Kenyan media found the pair had ingratiated themselves with senior government officials to such an extent that they were granted Kenyan citizenship and appointed Deputy Police Commissioners.

Local media interest in the pair extended to the publication yesterday of a photo apparently depicting former President Nasheed and former SAARC Secretary General Ibrahim Hussain Zaki apparently meeting Artur Sargsyan.

However the photograph turned out to be an edited photo taken during a formal reception for US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, held at the former Presidential residence of Muleaage in January 2011, with Sargsyan Artur’s head carefully photo-shopped onto Steinberg.

Local media outlet Channel News Maldives (CNM) reported that the photograph was originally leaked by the former Immigration Controller and current State Minister for Defence, Ilyas Hussain.

Ilyas refused to comment on the matter, and edited versions of the photo featuring Nasheed meeting characters ranging from Big Bird to Justin Bieber began circulating on social media.


Transcript: President Waheed’s testimony to the Commission of National Inquiry

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

Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, who took oath of office as President of the Maldives on February 7 2012, gave an interview to the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) on May 8 2012. Dhivehi Sitee has seen a copy of the English translation of the interview. Shared here is Dhivehi Sitee’s reading of the document. Some of the questions and responses have been summarised for brevity. Where I have been unable to decipher a coherent meaning from the translation, I have left the text and words as is, marked [sic].

Could you tell us details of how your meeting with the Coalition on 30 January 2012?

Leaders of the Civil Alliance first asked me to meet them on 20 January. By then they had been protesting for several days and nights. It was Adhaalath Party President Imran who called and requested the meeting. I think it was a Friday. I said I could meet him at 4:00 p.m. I informed President Nasheed via an SMS. If you wish, you can send someone from the President’s Office to participate, I told him. There was no response. Circumstances prevented them from coming, so the meeting did not happen.

A few days passed, and he called me again. I think it was the night of 30 January. They would come to meet me after the protests ended for the night.

Usually, the protests ended late. Some nights they went on until 2:00. Some people stayed up watching the protests on television till about 1:00. Me too. I usually stayed up until the end. They did not come at 12:00 as agreed. I received information they were coming to see me after a meeting elsewhere. When they came, there were about fifteen or twelve of them.

There were some leaders, leaders of protests too. This included Imran, Umar Naseer…I can’t recall their names right now…they came. As it was, before this meeting, I happened to have said something about Abdulla Ghaazee’s arrest. First I wrote a blog post saying I did not agree with the decision, and that I wasn’t happy about it.

Later, at a press conference I gave at the President’s Office, I said,

“I still believe he [Abdulla Ghaazee] should be released. But he mustn’t return to the bench until all issues surrounding him were addressed.”

From then on, everyone was ‘indignant’ [sic] with me. At the same time, I was becoming more popular among the protesters. Others, however, were not happy with me for saying that Abdulla Ghaazee should be released though not allowed on the bench.

I thought this was the reason they wanted to meet me. To ask me about what I had said. Considering how they do things, I assumed they were putting it on. It had been a long time since the protests started and, at the time, they were losing momentum. I thought it was just a PR stunt.

I believed, and still do, that Abdulla Ghaazee should have been released.

When they did turn up, I told them why I thought Abdulla Ghaazee should be released.

“He was arrested extra-legally. But, with the problems surrounding him, a judge of a court, he shouldn’t be on the bench,” these were my thoughts.

Even if requested by the judiciary, or acting on his own volition, Abdulla Ghaaze must not return to the bench until all investigations pending against him were completed. That would have been the best for peace and harmony.

“If there is a change in leadership, given how the protests are going, are you ready to take on the responsibilities of the government?” they responded.

“There is no need for a question like that. If, for any reason, the President steps aside, I should take his place. That’s my legal responsibility”, I told them.

“Say you had to carry out the responsibility. What would you do then?” one of them, I don’t know who, asked me.

“I am a member of a small party. This government came to power in a coalition,” I responded. If I were to take on the responsibility, I said, “I will work with everyone.”

“If that’s how you stand, we are with you,” they responded.

“We have a pact now,” one of them said to me as they left.

That was how the meeting went.


There was a cabinet meeting the next morning. The moment I walked in, before I was able to say a word, Sheikh Hussein Rasheed jumped up.

“That was some meeting last night! I will not sit at the same table with someone who’s been in such a meeting!” Sheikh Hussein Rasheed walked out.

Other Ministers wanted to know what I had discussed at the meeting. I got a little upset.

“None of your business. I don’t have to answer to Ministers,” I said. I was really very displeased with them.

“I don’t have to tell you anything,” I said. “It’s not that I am going to keep it from you, it’s just that there’s no need for such questioning.”

The questions came mostly from people like Shifa, Zulfa, Hassan Latheef. The rest had none to ask.

I told them what I have just told you, what happened [at the meeting], what we talked about.

They began asking more questions. The President interrupted.

“The Vice President has explained what happened. That’s the end of it,” he said.

There were no more questions; it was the last time we talked about it. That was during a working meeting. Later that day, in the afternoon, there was an official meeting. No questions were asked.


Did anyone in the Civil Alliance ask you not to resign under any circumstances?

Yes, that’s possible. I am not someone who has ever thought of resigning. I had been given a post…it is possible that if someone had asked me if I planned on resigning, I would have said ‘No, I have no such plan.’

Why should anyone even ask me such a question? I don’t know why I should resign at all.


Why did you make a statement at around 2:30-3:00 on the morning of 7 February asking everyone to act within the law. You also warned the military and police. Why?

Yes. As usual, we were watching the protest. What we saw that night was unusual. We saw the police leaving the place [Artificial Beach] and a fight breaking out. As far as I remember, I do make such statements on occasion. So I gave a statement that night, too, asking everyone to act according to the law.

“If things carry on like this, it may get out of control,” I thought.

No one was asking me anything, no one sought my counsel. As Vice President, I was very concerned with what was happening. That’s why I gave the statement, so everyone could hear.


How much truth is in the statement that President Nasheed called you on the 7th and received no response?

The last time President Nasheed spoke to me was at tea, after the cabinet meeting. I haven’t spoken to him since. If he had called me, there would be a call log, right? His number is still in my phone as HEP. If he had called me, my phone would register a missed call, right? He did not call me. Had he wanted to, there were plenty of options. We are both under the protection of the SPG [security detail]. If he had asked one of the officers to call me, or fetch me, they would have done so. I don’t believe he called me at all.


Did you contact any political leaders of the Civil Alliance during the events of 7 February?

Not even slightly do I recall talking to any political leaders that night.

Is there any truth to President Nasheed’s various, and changing, statements that you were a leader in this mutiny, that deals had been made and other such stories?

I have no such information.

President Maumoon made a statement that night. Did you have any role in that?

I did not talk to President Maumoon. I first talked to Maumoon only after this change was brought.


Why did you not attend the cabinet working session on the morning of 7 February?

As you know, so much was happening in Male’ that day. Huge events. On TV I saw President Nasheed go out to the Republic Square. I saw fighting. I forgot it was a working day, that a cabinet meeting was scheduled for the day. The whole day was so chaotic, I completely forgot about the cabinet meeting. I didn’t think anyone would be going to work that day so I stayed home. We hadn’t slept that night.

In the afternoon, Abdulla Shahid called to say the President was about to resign. This, too, made me sure there wouldn’t be a cabinet meeting that day. Isn’t this to be expected in a situation like this?

The way things were going, it just didn’t occur to me there would be a cabinet meeting that day. I would have been really anxious when I heard the President was to resign. I didn’t hear it from the President, he did not talk to me or call me. Abdulla Shahid did.

“It will only be official when I receive the letter. I haven’t got it yet. I’ll call you when I have it,” Shahid said.

One and a half hours later he rang me again. He had received the letter. Would I come to the People’s Majlis and take the oath?

So, actually, I didn’t know there was a cabinet meeting that day. No one from the President’s Office called to say a Cabinet meeting was on, no one called to invite me.

I forgot. But, surely someone from the President’s Office could have phoned and asked if I were coming? Nobody did. There were cabinet ministers around him when he resigned, I saw it on TV. I only learned later that his resignation had been preceded by a cabinet meeting.


It has been alleged that, during a time of such crisis, you failed to perform your responsibilities as Vice President. How do you respond?

To fulfil my responsibilities, I made a statement. I believed I had to say something, so I made a statement urging obedience to the law. I said I was willing to help in anyway I can with everything. I made the statement because no one in the government was in touch with me.

President Nasheed didn’t call me. He made no attempt to discuss things with me. And, given our relationship at the time, I didn’t want to take the initiative and get involved in things he hadn’t invited me to. He hadn’t called me, so I didn’t know how things were going. But I did call [retired Major General] Moosa Jaleel sometime in the morning, when the police-military confrontation began. He did not answer.

Did President Nasheed ask you then, or at any time, to finish up and go? To ‘retreat’ [sic] or resign?

No. Never. But, back when the whole cabinet resigned, he discussed the possibility of mid-term elections with a lot of people. Mid-term elections could only be held if both of us resigned together. But, even then, he did not ask me to resign. I learned indirectly that he, or others, wanted me to resign.

The British High Commissioner, in a meeting about a year and a half ago, asked me what my plan was.

“How will I know what to do? It’s not been discussed with me. When the time comes, I will do the best for my country,” I replied.

**Dhivehi Sitee Note: What the transcript says next is below in quotation marks. I am not sure of the meaning of the paragraph, so I have left it as it is. **End of Note

Then he asked me what was Plan B, I told him that Plan B was to go according to this within this unrests, then the High Commissioner asked me if so what was Plan C. Nobody replied to that, then the Commissioner told that it is talking to each other. Plan C was not followed later.


How much truth is in the statement that you sent some people to take over TVM before President Nasheed resigned?

My younger brother called me to tell me he was there. But it was after I took my oath. He worked in TVM for a long time, and would go there on other people’s request. I don’t know the details. I told him to remain there until we knew what was going on. He did. I began working on handing over TVM to MBC the next day. Within two days of me becoming President—in less than 48 hours—the board of MBC came to meet me.

“I’ll see what I can do,” I said. I handed over the responsibility of handing over TVM and Radio Maldives to MBC to the Attorney General. It took several days—around two weeks, I think, to make the required changes to the board, transferring assets and such like. As soon as the changes were completed he [brother] left TVM.

Do you believe that the situation got to a level where President Nasheed had to resign?

No, I don’t believe that. Not at all. I was surprised. President Nasheed is not someone who does things that easily. From what I have seen, he never did anything he did not want to do. I believe that things could have been resolved through talking. Why that didn’t happen, I don’t know.

How come people who led things that day have been given such high posts?

‘We all expected it to turn like this’ [sic]. When things changed, and I came to be in charge, my first priority was to maintain law and order. The Attorney General advised me, too, that I should first secure the Police, Home Affairs, and Defence.

So I gathered members of all political parties and continued to do things according to their advice. They suggested those names. They are not people I know.

But then again, I don’t know a lot of people.