JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla resigns

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla has resigned from the commission (January 18).

A JSC press statement released today explained that the Supreme Court justice had submitted his letter of resignation, saying that Adam Mohamed had requested to be excused, citing personal circumstances.

He has been a member of the JSC since 2010, when he joined as a High Court judge.

The resignation comes less than a month after the JSC found Adam Mohamed’s fellow judges on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan, unfit to continue to serve on the bench, in a ruling made available to neither the public nor MPs.

The secrecy of the decision did not prevent the Majlis voting to remove the pair three days later, in a move described as having “severely jeopardised” the country’s judicial independence by Commonwealth groups.

The Civil Court and several prominent lawyers also condemned the JSC’s recommendation to remove the judges, saying that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul also expressed serious concern over the removal of the judges saying that the decision will “have a chilling effect on the work of the judiciary at all levels”.

In a 2013 report, Knaul observed that the JSC had a “complicated” relationship with the judiciary due to competing claims with the Prosecutor General’s Office over jurisdiction regarding complaints against judges.

Knaul noted that political polarisation in the country had meant that the “commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly”.

Adam Mohamed himself faced a number of challenges from within the commission during his tenure as president, with commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahman filing no-confidence motions against him in 2013.

Rahman accused Mohamed of failing to back the JSC’s investigation of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed’s sex-tape scandal, and of abusing his power to release press statements on behalf of the commission.

Related to this story

Majlis removes Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Muthasim Adnan from Supreme Court

Removal of Supreme Court judges will have “chilling effect” on work of judiciary: UN special rapporteur

A justice system in crisis: UN Special Rapporteur’s report

JSC rejects no-confidence motion against Chair Adam Mohamed


Former President Maumoon “saddened” over Judge Shujoon’s resignation

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has expressed sadness over the resignation of Civil Court Judge Aisha Shujoon.

A tweet posted yesterday by the former president read that he was “saddened by the resignation of Judged Aishath Shujoon one of the first two women judges I had pleasure of appointing in 2007”.

Haveeru reported Shujoon gave her letter of resignation to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Monday (December 29).

Shujoon, a founding member of Maldivian Democracy Network, was recently re-elected to UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment.

Earlier this month, the seven member Civil Court bench condemned the removal of two Supreme Court Judges, including the chief justice, saying the JSC was “forced” to deem the two judges unfit for the bench through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

A subsequent case challenging the decision was removed from the Civil Court’s jurisdiction by the Supreme Court.

In February, JSC launched an investigation into Shujoon after she announced on state television that she was once offered a US$5 million bribe, which she refused.


Criminal cases in PG leadership absence unconstitutional, says Drug Court judge

Any trials of criminal cases in the absence of a prosecutor general (PG) and a deputy PG violates the constitution, Drug Court Judge Mahaz Ali has said.

Writing on his personal blog, Mahaz disagreed with the attorney general’s (AG) recent suggestion that the official in the senior most position at the PG office must take over the PG’s responsibilities.

AG Mohamed Anil claimed the country was in the midst of a “state of necessity” in the aftermath of acting PG Hussain Shameem’s resignation earlier this week.

The doctrine of necessity is the basis on which extra-legal actions by state actors, designed to restore order, are deemed constitutional.

Both the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Maldives Bar Association have also spoken out against the government’s stance on the matter.

State of necessity

Mahaz wrote that the state of necessity argument was valid only if there was no legal solution, suggesting that there was no reason President Abdulla Yameen could not propose a name for approval by the People’s Majlis.

“A state of necessity is faced only when all legal avenues have been exhausted. In the current situation, the solution is to appoint a new prosecutor general. The current People’s Majlis is not in a situation where it cannot carry out its duties,” wrote the judge.

“The authority that must nominate a candidate [the President] is able to do so. Unless these two parties are in a state in which they cannot carry out their constitutional duties, a state of necessity will not be faced in the prosecutor general’s case.”

Although Shameem has called on the executive and People’s Majlis to approve a PG immediately, President Yameen said he will only submit a new nominee to the newly elected house – set to convene on May 28.

After a drawn out nomination process, Yameen’s previous choice for the role – his nephew, Maumoon Hameed – failed to gain the required number of votes in parliament last month. In contrast to the previous session, pro-government parties will enjoy a healthy majority in the 18th Majlis.

Judge Mahaz argued that the Supreme Court order on 6 February – which ordered criminal courts to accept cases filed by the PG’s Office – did not provide a solution, only mentioning how to act in absence of a PG. The Supreme Court order was prompted by the Criminal Court’s January decision to refuse new cases until a new appointment was made.

Mahaz also referred to previous case law regarding the Attorney General’s Office, noting that no superior court had deemed similar instances to be ‘situations of necessity’ requiring the next in line to take charge of the office.

In July 2010, the eight Civil Court judges unanimously decided they would not proceed with civil cases in the absence of an AG following then-AG Husnu Suood’s resignation.

Violation of independence

The Bar Association of the Maldives has also joined the debate, arguing that the AG’s advise was inconsistent with the Prosecutor General Act, and that Shameem’s resignation had created a leadership vacuum.

The resignation of the deputy PG while the position of PG was vacant had left the office with no official who could now assume its legal responsibilities, the association said, arguing state prosecutors cannot represent the PG in the courts in the current situation.

“Given that the prosecutor general’s position is an independent and impartial position, this office believes the government’s exertion of influence by ordering state prosecutors to attend courts is a violation of the office’s independence,” the association said in a statement.

Despite the Prosecutor General’s Act requiring the appointment of a new PG within 30 days of the position’s vacancy, Shameem has headed the office for over five month’s following the resignation of his predecessor Ahmed Muiz in November.

The Criminal Court was forced to cancel more than 100 cases last week as state prosecutors refused to attend hearings, doubting their current legal capacity to represent the PG’s Office.

The Hithadhoo Court in Addu City is conducting criminal trials, however, and is issuing verdicts in the absence of a state prosecutor. Court officials told local media on Thursday that they did not accept the justification of absence put forth by lawyers from the PG’s Office.

In his resignation statement, Deputy PG Shameem had said he was unable to fulfill his duties due to the Criminal Court’s failure to prosecute foreigners involved in drug trafficking, delays in issuing rulings on drug related offenses, and “unreasonable obstacles” in filing cases at the court.

The President’s Office put out a third call for names this week, claiming the previous number of applicants had been low during the second call. Shameem had expressed interest in the position both times, while local media has speculated that a third call will allow Hameed to resubmit his application.

The MDP has also commented on the current situation, accusing President Yameen of nepotism:

“In contravention to principles of good governance in democratic countries, it is evident is more for the president in this current state to appoint his nephew or other relatives to the position of Prosecutor General.”


Vice President resigns as threat of constitutional crisis looms

Vice President Waheed Deen has resigned from the government, stepping down from the post he assumed shortly after February 7 2012’s controversial transfer of power.

His resignation comes on final day of President Mohamed Waheed’s term, and has prompted speculation that President Mohamed Waheed may similarly step down.

While the Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a parliamentary resolution that would have installed the Speaker of Parliament and reiterated that President Waheed’s government would continue after November 11, Waheed himself has previously indicated his reluctance to remain in the post “even a day after November 11”.

Senior and mid-ranking Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers as recently as yesterday were appealing to their colleagues not to recognise the authority of the President and his cabinet after midnight November 10.

Should Waheed step down leaving both offices vacant, Article 124(b) of the Constitution would automatically pass power to the Speaker.

124 (b)In the event of the permanent incapacity, resignation, removal or death of both the President or the Vice President, and both offices becoming vacant at the same time, leading to an incapacity to carry out the duties of the President, until such time as a President and a Vice President shall be elected, the duties of both offices shall temporarily be carried out, in order of priority, by the Speaker of the People’s Majlis, or by the Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis, or by a member of the People’s Majlis elected by a resolution of the People’s Majlis, until successors in office are chosen.

The prospect of impending constitutional limbo was triggered following yesterday’s election, after second-placed candidate Abdulla Yameen refused to sign the voter lists ahead of the run-off vote scheduled for today, and insisted that the election be held after November 13.

In a stamped but unsigned ruling issued at 5:30am this morning the Supreme Court declared that the revote should be held on November 16, despite the Elections Commission and all candidates previously agreeing that it should be held today.

Elections Commission (EC) Director General Mohamed Shakeel told Minivan News this morning that the ruling meant no polling stations were allowed to open, no materials could be transported, or any other preparations to be made.

“It states that all institutions in the Maldives are ordered not to provide assistance to the Elections Commission,” he continued. “So then the police won’t help.”

The EC said the delay would cost the state a further MVR 30 million (US$2 million).

The US Embassy in Colombo meanwhile issued a new statement this afternoon slamming the behaviour of the Supreme Court.

“Efforts by the Supreme Court to repeatedly and unduly interfere in the electoral process subverts Maldives’ democracy and takes decision-making out of the hands of the people. It is imperative that Maldives proceed to a runoff election with no further interference so that the democratic process can complete the transition to new leadership,” the US embassy said in a statement.

“We are deeply concerned about the Supreme Court’s ruling today against the holding of the scheduled second-round election on 10 November. Because of the Supreme Court’s intervention, the Maldivian presidential elections will not be completed before the current presidential mandate expires at midnight on November 10, 2013.

“In situations of uncertainty, the people must have confidence in their Constitution and look to it for guidance. We urge all three branches of the government and the political parties to respect the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and halt the constant reinterpretation of the legalities involved,” the statement said.

“The November 9 election has shown the commitment of the citizens of Maldives to the democratic process and the ability of the Election Commission to efficiently hold free, fair and credible elections that reflect the will of the people.”

Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon has also issued a damning statement on the conduct of the Supreme Court, and called for consideration of Article 124 – tacitly backing an interim government under the Speaker.

“In the absence of a political agreement, the people must look to their Constitution for guidance and have confidence in their Constitution. Article 124 makes clear the spirit and intent of the Constitution for situations such as the one the country is currently facing,” McKinnon stated.

“Article 124 reflects the basic democratic principle that the state’s power must always lie with the people and their elected representatives. This is the fundamental underpinning of the Constitution. Elected representatives speak for the people. I therefore believe that Article 124 offers the most appropriate guidance to avoid constitutional uncertainty and sustain the support of the people,” McKinnon said.

“As in most countries, an interim government would not be expected in any interim period, such as from 11 November to the swearing in of a new elected President, to take any significant decision or new policy initiative,” he added.

No role for international community: Yameen

Yameen lashed out at international pressure for elections during a press conference last night.

“There is no role for the international community in holding an election in any country, is there? An election is a domestic matter, isn’t it? What international organisations, ambassadors or foreign governments can do is appeal. But they will appeal to hold the election as soon as possible in accordance with Maldivian law, and we want to hold the election in accordance with the law as well,” Yameen said.

He accused the Elections Commission of not being properly prepared.

“At least 12 hours should be given to campaign for the election, shouldn’t it? The law provides time more generously than that. So for these reasons I said on behalf of PPM that I support holding the second round on November 11.”

“The international community would want to expedite the election. That is because there should be a President as early as possible at the start of a new constitutional term. Having an elected president on November 11 is what we Maldivians want as well, not just foreign parties. They will press for that but there is no role for international parties in elections,” he insisted.

The PPM candidate – half brother of former autocratic President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled the Maldives for 30 years – claimed a constitutional amendment would be required for the Speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect at the end of the presidential term.

“So even if it has been passed by Majlis, we don’t believe either then or now that it has any legal weight,” he said.

He said the Supreme Court has provided legitimacy for President Waheed to remain in office after the conclusion of his term, declaring that Waheed was willing to stay “to the extent that the public wants,” something which was noted “very clearly” at the meeting last week.

“Now the Supreme Court verdict has come the way President Waheed hoped for or wanted. So I am certain that President Waheed will stay with the Maldivian people at this most difficult time we are facing. I have no doubt about that,” Yameen said.

Deen’s phone was switched off at time of press.

Meanwhile third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim’s running mate, Hassan Saeed, a former Special Advisor to President Waheed, announced his retirement from politics to local media.


Health Minister Dr Jamsheed resigns

Health Minister Dr Ahmed Jamsheed resigned from the cabinet last week.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told local media that Jamsheed resigned to assume a post at the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to a statement by the President’s Office today, President Dr Mohamed Waheed “thanked him for his valuable services during his tenure as the Health Minister towards the development of the health sector.”

Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights Dr Aamal Ali has been appointed the Acting Minister of Health.

Dr Jamsheed was appointed health minister on February 12, 2012 following the controversial transfer of presidential power five days earlier. He was serving as the Chief Operation Officer at the ADK private hospital after resigning from the director general post at the Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC).

With Dr Jamsheed’s resignation, the posts of Attorney General, Home Minister, Foreign Minister and Health Minister are currently vacant with a week left for the expiration of the current presidential term.


“I do not want to stay in this position even a day beyond November 11”: President Waheed

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has said he does not want to stay on as President when his term expires on November 11, as uncertainty continues to hang over the possibility of holding an election after police forcibly stopped Saturday’s polls.

“It is not in the best interest of this country if there is no elected president when the current presidential term ends on November 10. I do not want to stay in this position even a day beyond November 11,” Waheed told the press today.

The Supreme Court verdict, which annulled the first round of election held on September 7, also said Waheed’s government should continue past November 11 if there is no president elect. The Jumhooree Party (JP) and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) have pledged their support to Waheed staying on, but former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed has called for Waheed to resign, allowing a transitional government under the Speaker of Parliament to oversee elections.

Waheed was Nasheed’s former deputy and took over power in February 2012 after Nasheed resigned following a police and military mutiny.

The Supreme Court and People’s Majlis must also be involved in deciding an interim arrangement, Waheed said and added that he does not know what to do should the country fail to elect a president.

“It is not me who will decide on an arrangement post November 11. It is not me who will decide that right? There are others who should shoulder the responsibility. I believe the Supreme Court and the People’s Majlis need to think about this,” he said.

The best way forward was to hold first round on November 2 and if necessary hold a second round on November 9, Waheed said. He has called on the Elections Commission and all presidential candidates to continue talks and come to an agreement on dates and solve the disputes over the voter registry.

Holding an election is not the government’s responsibility, but that of the EC, he repeatedly said. However, the government would not support an election in which majority of presidential candidates refused to contest.

Speaking of the police’s halt of Saturday’s election, Waheed said: “The government’s position was that the government could not support an election that all candidates could not participate in, in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines, an election only one candidate was to participate in. So police told the Elections Commission in writing that they would not support an election in violation of Supreme Court guidelines. Stopping support and stopping an election are very different.”

An hour before polls were to open on Saturday, police surrounded the Elections Commission and forcibly prevented it from proceeding with the scheduled election, stating that they would not facilitate an election in which all three presidential candidates refuse to sign the voter registry. Police had previously obstructed run-off elections due to be held on September 28.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has condemned police’s obstruction of elections and said the elections process must not be subject to the whim of candidates. Further, failure of PPM and JP to do what they must do does not mean citizen should be deprived of their right to vote, Thowfeek said.

However, Waheed said elections must only proceed on procedures agreed to by all candidates. At present the elections crisis was not a legal matter, but a political matter and hence must be solved through dialogue.

“I believe not everything can be solved legally. This is a political matter. So politicians must speak to each other, give in when they need to, and come to an agreement. When a date is fixed, [an election] can only succeed when all candidates agree and facilitate the process.

“I will say again, it is not in the interest of the Maldives to hold an election in which only one candidate can contest. The entire international community in the past year and half pressured me not to hold an election that President Nasheed cannot contest. Many parties tried to take action against President Nasheed. I am happy today that President Nasheed can contest. Similarly, President Nasheed has to be happy that other candidates can take part. President Nasheed should not take part in an election that other candidates cannot contest in. If he does so, we should question his moral principles,” he said.

“An election by force cannot be held in the Maldives. An election by force will only cause bloodshed. I will not allow that. To anyone. No matter what the international community says, and no matter what political parties say, my utmost responsibility today is Maldivian citizen’s security. So I will not allow that,” he added.

The United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union and several foreign governments including the United States, the United Kingdom and India have urged elections to be expedited.

Waheed said although he accepted advice from foreign organizations, it would be him who made the final decision.

“People of our country are not any less capable or less educated than those in other countries, even the Western countries. They cannot come and tell us what to do. We have lived in difficult places. More difficult places than that in which people who are coming to give lessons have lived in. I have lived. I know. The dangers and opportunities in the Maldives. We do things with the advice of others. The Commonwealth’s advice and other governments. But I will make the last decision. People will slander [me]. A lot of foul things have been said about me. There is none worse than me in the international media. But today, I must not consider what people are saying. I have to consider the country’s interests. To carry the country forward without any bloodshed.”

Waheed has appointed Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim as a mediator between political parties to solve the voter registry dispute, but said an agreement had not yet been found despite several attempts.


Waheed threatens candidates with resignation should they not agree to polls: The Hindu

Under siege by the international community for failing to hold the re-scheduled first round of Presidential polls on Saturday, Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed said that it was “in the interest of the country that an election was not forced” on it, in an interview with R. K. Radhakrishnan of The Hindu.

So did police overreach its mandate in holding the Elections Commission officials hostage early on Saturday morning? “Clearly the police also felt that they were also breaking the law if they went ahead. And we believe that in the greater interest of peace and security, it is important for us to have better consensus among the candidates and the institutions so that we can have a peaceful election,” he said.

Mr Waheed said he had stayed away from leading the poll process since he was candidate in the first round. “Until now I was in the backseat. Now, I feel I have to give more direction and help the process,” he said, and added that a new President will be elected and he will take office by November 11.

He would work to make the poll process free, fair and inclusive. He said that he would be able to convince all candidates to agree. If they did not, he said he would use the resignation card: “I will tell them I will resign, and then, so will the Vice-President. After that, the responsibility will fall on the Speaker [to assume office as President as per the Maldivian Constitution].”

Asked if he will stay on after November 11 in a scenario where the elections have not been held, he said: “I am not comfortable to stay on. It would be my preference that there be an elected President. And it would also be my preference that if this is not possible, then there would be some other arrangement made.”

Full story


Ahmed Sareer takes up Maldives Permanent Representative role at UN

Ahmed Sareer has taken up the role of the Maldives Permanent Representative to the United Nations on Thursday (December 20) after presenting his letter of credence, local media has reported.

Sareer, who was appointed to the permanent representative role by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan earlier this month, was officially confirmed in the position at a ceremony overseen by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon at the organisation’s headquarters.

In a Foreign Ministry statement seen by local newspaper Haveeru, Sareer praised the UN for its ongoing role in the Maldives pushing for national developments in areas such as human rights and climate change.  He also welcomed the UN’s role in providing the nation with technical assistance such as with the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for next year.

Sareer has previously served as the Maldives’ High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

Sareer’s name was earlier forwarded earlier this year for parliamentary approval as a replacement for Abdul Gafoor Mohamed, who resigned from the UN post over concerns about February’s transfer of power.

Gafoor announced his intention to resign from the post live on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’ programme shortly after the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed.

“I believe the new president should have the opportunity to have his views and policies presented to the world community through representatives who serve him without equivocation or reservation,” Gafoor told Al Jazeera at the time.


Comment: He is not my President

There are few individuals who have lost as much goodwill and respect of democrats in as little time as Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

Among them was his own brother Naushad Waheed Hassan, the former Deputy High Commissioner of the Maldives to the UK, who handed in his resignation letter following the February 7 coup d’état. In a statement, he said “…it is with a heavy heart that I have to say that this is indeed an illegitimate government and I cannot be party to it”.

Maldives Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, resigned live on air on Al Jazeera, citing “moral and ethical concerns” surrounding the transfer of power. Dr Farahanaz Faizal, the Maldivian High Commissioner to the UK, also tendered her resignation, saying: “They robbed the people of the vote and when I saw the brutality of the police… that was the final straw”.

Over 100 days later, tens of thousands continue to march in protest and express contempt for the man who undid the country’s first democracy.


It is hardly a matter of debate that what  transpired on February 7-8, 2012 was a coup d’état.

Indeed, the then Vice President Mohamed Waheed himself claims to have been watching the events unfold on national television as the country descended into chaos.

TV stations were played harrowing videos of police senselessly beating MDP leaders and supporters unconscious on the streets. We saw dramatic footage of police and military personnel, led by Dr Waheed’s brother, storming into and taking over the headquarters of the state broadcaster, as well as ransacking and destroying the MDP party campus.

Online videos show a former military colonel Mohamed Nazim (later appointed Defence Minister), demanding an ‘unconditional resignation’ from the first democratically elected President in the nation’s history.

An amateur video clip showed the alleged coup leaders holed up in the police headquarters along with a former policeman Abdulla Riyaz (who has since been appointed Commissioner of Police) and current Deputy Commissioner Hussain Waheed (who had earlier denied his presence at the scene), showed them hugging and celebrating. Gasim Ibrahim, the businessman leader of Jumhooree Party, was seen remarking that he was relieved it was over “without involving a military takeover”.

PPM Vice President Umar Naseer – a man renowned for speaking exactly more words than necessary – has publicly revealed the existence of a ‘command centre’ and openly boasted at a party gathering that the President’s life was on the line had he not resigned.

Indeed, Australian television SBS Dateline has aired devastating audio clips of an agitated President Nasheed pleading for the safety of his family in return for his resignation. In yet another leaked audio clip, Waheed’s own advisor, DQP leader Dr Hassan Saeed – has termed it a “unique coup”.

The brazen violence against MDP leaders by the regime forces, the arrest warrants issued against Nasheed less than a day of his ouster, and the subsequently leaked audio and video clips leaves no room for doubt that the first democratically elected President of the Maldives was made to resign under duress – in other words, an unambiguous, clear-cut case of a coup d’état.

There is simply no intellectually honest argument that can be made against this.

What remains to be seen is whether the perpetrators of the coup will face justice for their treason, and whether Maldivians will ever get to learn the finer details of the plot that overthrew their first democratically elected government – of how it was conceived, financed and executed.

Uncovering the facts

Whereas governments like India have spectacularly miscalculated their response to the coup d’état, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and EU have been more forthright about their demands from the newly installed regime – early elections, and an independent inquiry.

In what is essentially Napolean hiring a council of pigs to investigate the affairs at the Farm, Waheed put together a three-member ‘independent’ inquiry commission, two of whom served as Cabinet ministers in Gayoom’s former regime, to “investigate” the coup d’etat.

The Commission for National Inquiry (CNI) came under heavy fire from CMAG, which gave the government four weeks to reconstitute the panel to include international experts and a representative acceptable to the MDP, or face the consequences.

A lot of tantrums were thrown in retaliation, with prominent figures allied with the regime ridiculing the Commonwealth body, going so far as to accuse them of accepting bribes. One MP even introduced a bill in Parliament to withdraw from the Commonwealth.

Another MP, Riyaz Rasheed, offered his enlightened opinion that the UK was not, in fact, a democracy, and proceeded to mock the British Queen as “physically challenged” in a bizarre diatribe that would have earned most people a long vacation in a padded room.

Despite the alternating complaints and swagger, the regime finally relented with just a day left on the deadline and agreed to have a Commonwealth approved co-chair on the Inquiry Commission, and also gave an assurance to CMAG that a member nominated by President Nasheed would be appointed.

However, no sooner did the Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon board his flight than the regime’s obstructive tactics were back in full force.

The regime rejected all nine names proposed by President Nasheed. Instead, Waheed’s Attorney General Azima Shukoor laid out the “conditions” that needed to be met by the nominees, including the demand that they should not have served in a political position in the past two years, and must not have taken a public position on a matter that has been at the centre and forefront of the national debate for over a 100 days.

And if Nasheed doesn’t find such a candidate in less than two weeks, the regime vows to unilaterally appoint a lawyer to fill the spot.

Rewinding the clock

With the delaying tactics in place, the regime has embarked on a series of steps to try and legitimise the power grab.

The government has already hired London-based PR firm Ruder Finn – for an assignment allegedly worth about US$300,000 – to rebuild their image in major Western countries.

Former Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed, once employed by Gayoom as the ‘reformist’ mask on the his brutal dictatorship, seems destined to forever keep applying lipstick to hideous pigs.

As Waheed’s ‘advisor’, he has been penning a series of articles in the local media, talking about ideals of democracy and state building – a rather weak and laboured point, coming from someone who continues to play lackey to an unrepentant, brutal dictator who has never faced justice for his three decade-long crimes.

The State TV channel, forcibly renamed ‘TVM’ by the vandals on February 7, continues to be known by its Gayoom-era moniker. Gayoom’s children and close associates have all found high ranking positions in the newly formed regime, which Waheed insists is a “continuation” of the former government.

Every major MDP policy – from decentralisation to regional development – has been either reversed or suspended. Boards have been reconstituted, organizations have been abolished, and even the ministries have been reshuffled to closely resemble their Gayoom-era counterparts.

Meanwhile, in another throwback to the despotic Gayoom era, the Waheed regime has engaged in systematically dismantling all avenues of dissent against his government using a heavy handed campaign of intimidation.

Following President Nasheed’s first public appearance following on the coup d’état on February 8, a massive spontaneous protest was crushed with unprecedented police brutality that drew condemnation from international Human Rights organizations like Amnesty International, as well as the local Police Integrity Commission. The regime-appointed Police Commissioner has announced that he will not investigate the mindless violence perpetrated by the police of those days.

After weeks of demonstrations calling for early elections showed no signs of abating, the regime sent in a cavalcade of military and police vehicles to forcibly evacuate and dismantle the protest site, while also rather conveniently recovering boxes of illegal alcohol once the media was out of sight.

In recent days, the regime has indicated its intention to yet again take over the protesters’ new camp, and also usurp the land from the MDP controlled Male’ City Council.

While he has stalled and delayed elections in any way he could, Waheed has been agile and and moved fast to reward the police service with a record number of promotions and has generously increased their headcount by a further 200 staff. He has also paid out generous lump sum awards for years of “pending” allowances to the military forces, in a move that couldn’t hurt his popularity among the uniformed forces.

Waheed has also appeared to be shoring up his Islamist support, sharing a podium with far right Islamist politicians and businessmen, rallying the ‘mujahideen’ behind him in a fiery jihadi speech delivered on February 24.

Waheed’s strategy of using tried and tested Gayoom formula of employing twin pillars of religious paranoia and military force to prop up the regime is increasingly evident.

It is starkly clear that the present regime threatens to rewind the clock back by a decade, undo every progress the country has made since the democratic struggle began long years ago, and return the country back to the hands of the same tyrant whose clutches we had barely escaped.

Every day that an election is delayed is yet another day that the old monster of despotism spreads its tentacles wider.

If the international community fails to make a firm stand to resuscitate the Maldives’ rapidly failing democracy, and ensure justice for the victims, then it will turn out to be an even bigger body blow to Maldivian democrats’ diminishing hopes than Waheed’s betrayal ever was.

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]