CNI committed to August deadline as co-chair temporarily departs for Singapore

The revised Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) charged with investigating February’s controversial transfer of power has said it remains committed to releasing its findings later this month, despite its Singaporean co-chair returning to Singapore until August 25.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s member on the commission, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed, said today that the CNI’s investigations were continuing, despite co-chair G P Selvam – a retired Singaporian Judge – having to return to his home country to work on an arbitration case.

Saeed maintained that the commission’s report was expected to be sent to authorities on August 29, before being publicly released the next day, with Selvam believed to be working on the findings during his trip. Local media, citing a source in the CNI, reported yesterday that Selvam had been out of the country on business since August 3.

Without wanting to discuss the commission’s findings so far, Saeed told Minivan News that in previous cases where Selvam had been called to Singapore, any interviews with “important”, high profile witnesses had been rescheduled to allow him to hear such testimonies.

“When working with international partners, in some cases they will have existing commitments,” he said. “However, the commission’s work is continuing. Right now, [Selvam] is also preparing the report.”

A person familiar with the CNI’s workings meanwhile told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that there was some concern that the absence of the judge’ “may constrain” the panel’s ability to investigate at full capacity.

President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the government had been aware of Selvam’s plans to return to Singapore, and believed that the CNI’s work would be completed “on schedule”.

“The CNI has not requested any additional time from the government to complete its findings,” he said.

CNI deadline

Earlier this month, Selvam stated at a press conference that the CNI’s findings would not state against whom the state should press possible charges.  He contended that this was for the Prosecutor General (PG) to decide.

Days earlier, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said he would not accept that the toppling of former President Nasheed’s government on February 7 was a coup d’état, even if the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI)’s report came to such a conclusion.

Initially, the commission was mandated to release its findings on July 31, but CNI members stated that their final report will be delayed, after hundreds of people have come forward offering new information.

Selvam at the time said that the new date for the report’s completion would be the end of August, which was later approved by the government.

Saeed said at the time that 244 people had registered to provide information to the commission following the reforming of the CNI.

“There has been a lot of interest. We will speak to each and every single one,” he said.

The new names joined the 87 spoken to by the government’s original three member panel, taking the total number of contributors to 331.

“That’s one contributor for every 1000 of population,” Saeed remarked.

Following the remarks by the commission, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan extended the deadline by which the CNI must conclude its report into February’s transfer of power by August 30, 2012.

The first three-member CNI was appointed by President Mohamed Waheed, following a police and military mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation, in what he and his party have described as a coup d’état.

Facing pressure from the Commonwealth and civil society NGOs, the government eventually agreed to reform the commission to include a retired Singaporean judge and a representative for Nasheed.

The former CNI subsequently released a ‘timeline’ into events that took place from January 16 to February 7.

The MDP accused the commission of trying to prejudice the work of new commission, and then released its own version of events in response – the ‘Ameen- Aslam’ report based on interviews with the security services. The government described the publication of this report as a “terrorist act”.