November 9 elections timeline announced

The Elections Commission (EC) has publicized its work plan for the first round of the presidential election scheduled for November 9.

A window to submit complaints on voter registry information was opened up yesterday (Tuesday, Oct 22). The EC will address complaints today and open up the re-registration process tomorrow and Friday (October 24, 25) for newly eligible voters and voters who will be voting in a location other than their home island.

Voters who re-registered for the cancelled October 19 polls and do not wish to change registration status will not have to submit forms.

Forms are available at the Elections Commission Secretariat, Island Council offices and online.

The EC has said it will continue to follow all elections laws and the guidelines delineated by the Supreme Court for the cancelled vote on October 19.

After re-registration is completed, the EC will receive rejected re-registration forms on Saturday (October 26). On the same day, the names of elections day officials will be sent to candidates for vetting as outlined in the SC guidelines.

The EC will be seeking Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) help in addition to police support in dispatching ballot boxes and papers to polling stations. An MOU will be signed between the two organizations on October 27.

Elections observers and monitors will be issued permits on October 29.

On November 1 and 2, a draft of the final voter list will be publicized and the EC will continue to receive any complaints regarding the voter lists.

On November 3, re-registration forms will be sent to the Department of National Registration (DNR) for verification of fingerprints – a key demand by two of the three presidential candidates.

The voter registry will be finalized, printed and sent to presidential candidates on November 4. Candidates will be asked to sign the voter lists on November 5 and 6.

Ballot boxes are to be dispatched on November 8, the election will be held on November 9 and the preliminary results will be announced on the same day.

The official results will be announced on November 12, one day after the current presidential term ends.

This is the EC’s fourth attempt to hold presidential polls. A first round of presidential elections was held on September 7 – no candidate gained 50 percent of the vote, and a second round was scheduled for September 28.

However, third placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim of the Jumhooree Party sought to annul the September 7 results, alleging widespread fraud, despite unanimous praise – international and domestic – of a free and fair election process.

With a verdict pending on the eve of scheduled second round, the EC decided to proceed with polls on September 28, but the Supreme Court in a midnight ruling ordered the EC to delay polls and security forces to halt elections preparations.

On October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the first round and ordered a re-vote by October 20.

The apex court also delineated 16 controversial guidelines on conducting polls which the EC have criticized as restrictions and an infringement on the EC’s independence as the guidelines involve state institutions and presidential candidates in electoral process.

Guidelines include compilation of a new voter registry based on the DNR database, re-registration with new fingerprinted forms. The security forces are required to oversee transport of ballot boxes and papers to polling stations, and candidates are required to vet elections officials at polling stations as well as to sign the voter registry.

Two of the three presidential candidates – the JP and the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) – refused to sign the voter registry on the eve of October 19 elections, after which the police refused to dispatch ballot boxes and papers.

Finally, just one hour before polls were to open, the police forcibly stopped elections officials from leaving EC HQ with any election related document.

After several discussions with the executive and presidential candidates, the EC announced new polls for November 9, and a second round on November 16 if necessary.


MNDF to take action against officers found to have “violated laws” on Feb 7: Defence Minister

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers who are found to have violated the laws and regulation during the events leading to the controversial transfer of powers on February 7, will face disciplinary action, Defence Minister Ahmed Nazim has said.

Hours before former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, uniformed police and 60-70 officers from the MNDF were seen by reporters and recorded siding with opposition protesters, and attacking the MNDF headquarters.

Video footage also shows rogue police, military officers and civilians, armed with stones and wooden sticks storming the state broadcaster’s compound prior to Nasheed’s resignation, using a firearm or some kind of explosive to break down the gates – later claimed to be a riot gun, in the former Commission of National Inquiry (CNI’s) preemptive report.

Nasheed’s party accuses police and MNDF officers of taking bribes from the then- opposition to oust Nasheed from power in a premeditated coup d’état, and have continued to vociferously challenge the legitimacy of the new coalition government of Dr Mohamed Waheed.

Both police and MNDF have meanwhile dismissed the allegations and refrained from commenting on their role in the alleged coup until the CNI completes its investigation into the February 7 events.

Disciplinary action

However, at a press conference on Sunday morning, Defense Minister confirmed an “internal inquiry” was conducted within MNDF to find information on February 7 events.

“I believed it is of great importance to find information about why the sequence of events which occurred inside MNDF took place – Because then only we can correct anything that has to be corrected based on the findings.” Nazim observed.

He noted final report complied following the internal inquiry is with him and it will not be made public as it is an internal matter and it may “influence” the CNI’s ongoing investigation.

When Minivan News asked whether any actions are to be taken against MNDF officers who were found to have violated the law on February 7 during the inquiry, Nazim responded: “Necessary disciplinary measures will be taken by us for any action committed by MNDF personnel, found to have violated the laws and regulations of the  MNDF.”

However, so far, no such measures have been taken.

“We have an internal disciplinary committee. The committee will discuss and provide me with the steps that can be taken. Further action will proceed based on the recommendations,” said Nazim, who himself is facing accusations of being at the centre of organising the alleged coup.

Defense Minister Nazim’s involvement

Nazim today acknowledged that he is a “target” of allegations and repeated that he did not wish to further comment on the subject until the CNI concludes investigation.

However he continued to lambast the MDP’s report, calling it “an imaginary story”.

Recalling his victory in the civil suit filed against MDP government after he was sacked from the military, Nazim further encouraged officers – whose names and pictures have been published in the report – to file defamation suits against the MDP.

In a recently published MDP report on the February 7 events, ex-colonel Mohamed Nazim and ex-deputy commissioner Abdulla Riyaz (now Commissioner of police) have been accused of recruiting police and army officers to join the opposition’s protest.

Meanwhile, the  timeline released by the government’s three-member Inquiry Commission also states that between 8:00am to 9:00am “some of the military who had come out of the building [MNDF head quarters] joined with the police, who were calling for the president’s resignation outside the headquarters at the time.”

The report further says that it was Nazim and Riyaz who entered MNDF headquarters as the violence escalated outside, and proposed Nasheed “should resign without any condition”.

“We told them these are non-negotiable conditions. These are not things up for further discussion. We assure the beloved Maldivians, military and police who are with us that, God willing, these things will happen this way by the deadline we have set for 1:30 today.” Nazim publicly announced on the morning of February 7, after coming out of the headquaters.

Asked on what grounds and on whose command he made a non-negotiable condition for Nasheed’s resignation, he commented: “The message I gave represented the sentiments of people outside. I gave their message on what they wanted.”

As some military officers were also seen outside with police and opposition protestors, Minivan News asked whether the message to unconditionally resign represented what that military officers wanted.

Nazim however replied, “We will know that after the investigation. We cannot blame any specific person.”


Former Inquiry Commission’s release of timeline “blatant attempt to conceal truth by pre-empting impartial inquiry”: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned the former three-member Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) after it yesterday released a ‘timeline of events’, calling it a “blatant attempt to conceal the truth by pre-empting an impartial inquiry.”

The initial three-member panel was appointed by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the controversial circumstances that brought him to power. It was boycotted by the ousted MDP, who contended that its members had been appointed by those it was accusing, and it was not credible or impartial.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and civil society groups concurred, and pressured the government to reconstitute the commission to include a nominee representing former President Mohamed Nasheed, a retired foreign judge, and UN and Commonwealth monitors. Earlier this week the government announced it had accepted the 13th nominee proposed by Nasheed, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.

However yesterday the three-member panel released a 282-point ‘timeline of events’, for the stated purpose of “asking for public opinion”.

“It is unacceptable that a committee that has been discredited by the civil society, members of the public and the international community should proceed to make public its findings, ahead of the commencement of the work of a restructured commission,” said MDP’s Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, in a statement on Thursday.

“It is incomplete, biased and reveals the malicious intent of the Commission,” he said, adding that neither former President Nasheed nor any MDP member had given testimony to the commission before it released its findings.

The agreement for a restructured commission was brokered by the Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald Mackinnon, “just two days ago”, Ghafoor noted, a move praised in public statements by the UN, Commonwealth and the UK Foreign Office at the time.

“The publication of the findings of the commission is a blatant attempt by the government to pervert the course of justice. This is in flagrant disregard for the appeals of the international community, including the CMAG, which had demanded that the composition of the Committee be changed to make it impartial, independent, credible and more broadly acceptable,” Ghafoor said.

“This conduct by the current Commission is further confirmation that the real mandate of this Commission is to conceal the truth and absolve the perpetrators of the coup from guilt.”

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the CNI was entitled to ask for public support, “and the government has no views about it, as the commission is independent.”

“We see no wrong-doing in [the commission] requesting public support,” Riza told Minivan News. “The government’s view is that the inquiry is fully independent and that it can ask for help where it wishes.”

Asked whether canvassing public opinion was in the commission’s mandate when it was set up, Riza stated that the commission had a mandate to “find the facts from January 14 to February 7”.

At to whether the timeline was relevant, given that the reconstituted commission would presumably be starting from scratch, Riza said “it is up to the commission to determine that.”

Attorney General Azima Shukoor meanwhile today told local media that administrative work had begun to formulate the new CNI.
Shukoor told local newspaper Haveeru that the new commission needed to be established by a new presidential decree, which was currently being drafted in time for President Mohamed Waheed’s return from the UK.
She also said that work is being carried out drafting the procedures and principles of the commission, as well as the code of conduct for the commission members with advice of senior members of the commission. Shukoor also said that the three-member panel had taken not wage or allowances for the work they had done  up until now.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from the Commonwealth at time of press.


Former Commission of National Inquiry panel releases timeline “for public opinion”

The former three-member panel of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) has released a ‘timeline’ of events it claims took place from the period of January 16 to February 7, for the stated purpose of “finding public opinion”.

The composition of the panel has since been revised to include a representative of former President Mohamed Nasheed and a retired Singaporean judge, as well as international monitors from both the Commonwealth and UN.

The 282-point Dhivehi document does not feature any input from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who contested the panel’s impartiality prior to the re-composition. The report begins its findings on the day police attempted to summon Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, to the day the controversial transfer of power took place. The panel conducted interviews with assorted non-MDP participants, however the report does not source its findings.

The night of February 6

The timeline suggests the initial ‘turning point’ of the unrest began on the night of February 6, after the supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) arrived at the artificial beach in Male’ where supporters of the coalition of then-opposition parties had already been protesting, calling for the release of Judge Abdulla and for the constitution to be upheld.

The timeline states that the Specialist Operation (SO) officers of the police had stationed themselves in Heniveru Stadium, in preparation to prevent any violence that may have taken place if supporters from both sides clashed.

The report stated that police intervened after they received information that the situation was deteriorating from two police officers who were there to assess the situation.

It states that police intervention calmed the situation and cordoned a security line between the two protesting parties, after forcing them further behind the sides of the area they had been protesting.

The three member panel alleged that Minister of Home Affairs Hassan Afeef ordered Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh to withdraw police officers who had been stationed on the site. The Commissioner sent two officers to assess the situation, who reported back stating that the situation had deteriorated, which the Commissioner relayed to the Minister.

The Minister repeated the order but the Commissioner of Police refused to comply, stating that the situation could get worse if the police withdrew their forces.

According to the report, after the commissioner refused, President Nasheed himself called the commissioner and ordered him to withdraw police from the scene.

Faseeh then reportedly sent the Deputy Commissioner of Police to assess the situation, and he too relayed the situation was worsening.

The report claimed that the president called the commissioner a second time and ordered him to withdraw police from the area, stating that he “could not trust the police”.

After this order, the report said that the commissioner personally took the decision to contact the Male’ Area Commander of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), asking that the MNDF intervene as the police were withdrawing.

The statement read that the tactical officer of the SO opposed the idea of withdrawing police from the area, stating that both the protesting parties had weapons that could be used for violence, including wooden sticks and metal rods.

The SO police present in the area refused to withdraw without the MNDF arriving to take over their position, the timeline claimed.

The panel also claimed that a resignation letter was drafted by the police commissioner and was left on his table, as “the commissioner did not believe that the withdrawal of the police was the right decision.”

After the MNDF took over the area, the panel claimed that President Nasheed called the Male’ area commander and ordered him to withdraw MNDF officers from the area, giving him assurances that the MDP supporters would not resort to any kind of violence.

However, the statement read that when MNDF withdrew their officers from the area, violent confrontations began and there “bottles and objects” thrown by both protesting parties, which led the MNDF to intervene again.

February 7

The statement claimed that some of the SO police officers who had been in the Artifical Beach area then went to the MDP protest camp and vandalised the premises, and attacked some of the MDP supporters inside.

An MNDF SWAT team arrived after the SO police officers left premises, “to guard the area”, the panel stated.

The statement read that, as the usual routine of the police is to fall in at the Republican Square after protests ended; the police officers retreated and convened to the area.

The panel said that initially the MNDF attempted to arrest the police officers who by then had begun to gather in Republic Square, adjacent to police and military headquarters. However the MNDF reportedly decided to negotiate with the police officers as the military was outnumbered and police had similar equipment to the MNDF officers.

According to the report, police told the MNDF officers who were sent to negotiate with them that would begin following orders again after they were given assurances that they would not be ordered to carry out any unlawful orders, and that no action be taken against any of the officers regarding their involvement.

“The MNDF officers assured them that the MNDF would not confront police officers in the area,” the panel claimed.

During the negotiations, the panel claimed that police requested to meet the commissioner of police. The MNDF officials proposed officers go into the MNDF headquarters to to meet the commissioner, but police said they wanted to meet the commissioner inside police headquarters.

It was decided that the commissioner would meet meet in Iskandhar Koshi, an MNDF barracks on the other side of Male’, to the police officers initially agreed. However, police rejected the idea after the MNDF insisted the police go without their weapons and riot gear.

President’s arrival to Republic Square and his resignation

The panel claimed that in the early morning of February 7, between 5:00am to 6:00am, President Nasheed informed the commissioner that he wanted to meet the police officers who were at Republican Square.

It further claimed that the President also ordered the commissioner to meet the police officers in Republic Square, however the commissioner left military headquarters and entered police headquarters without meeting police gathered outside the building.

Before meeting the police, Nasheed asked one of the MNDF commanders whether he had any reservations over arresting the protesting police officers, to which the commander reportedly replied that he did.

The President then reportedly told the commander that it would be better if he stayed at home for the time being, however two other commanders also told the President that they had reservations and left.

The panel claimed that Nasheed then told the police officers that they had “done something wrong” and requested they hand themselves over to the MNDF. Police refused the order.

According the panel, Nasheed then returned to military headquarters and ordered the MNDF officers inside the barracks to go outside and arrest the officers who had disobeyed him.

At this point, some of the MNDF officers left the barracks and joined the police officers protesting.

While Nasheed was inside the MNDF base, the panel claimed that the President’s secretariat informed cabinet members that there would be a cabinet meeting, but failed to inform Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan as two key staff of the VP’s secretariat had not reported to work.

The panel also claimed that the then-President of the MDP, Dr Ibrahim Didi, called Nasheed and discussed how to resolve the ongoing unrest. Nasheed reportedly asked for Didi’s help in releasing a joint statement by the president and leaders of the opposition parties.

It said that Didi had then contacted opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader, Abdulla Yameen, however both of them declined to help unless Nasheed personally requested they do so.

Dr Didi then informed Nasheed of this response, who told him to make a decision after discussing the matter with MDP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former Chairperson of the Party, MP Mariya Ahmed Didi.

The panel alleged that Dr Didi tried contacting MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, who did not respond, and then contacted MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who said he would get back to Dr Didi after consulting on the issue with Nasheed.

After the reply from MP Solih was delayed, Didi reportedly called Nasheed back, and was told that the High Commissioner of India, Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, would contact him.

According to the panel, Mulay contacted Dr Didi and asked him to come to the High Commission. When Dr Didi arrived to the High Commission, the opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group leader Yameen was already there.

According to the panel, as Dr Didi, Mulay and Yameen were discussing how to resolve the crisis, MP Solih called Yameen and informed him that Nasheed was going to resign.

Didi then reportedly contacted Nasheed and asked to him to give the phone to Yameen.

According to the panel, Nasheed informed Yameen that he was going to resign and asked him to ensure the safety of his family, to which Yameen replied that he would do everything to ensure the safety of Nasheed’s family.

The meeting adjourned after the president informed them that he would resign.

New MNDF commander

Meanwhile, according to the panel, two civilians: resigned police officer Abdulla Riyaz (the new Police Commissioner) and dismissed MNDF officer Ahmed Nazim (now the Defence Minister), entered the MNDF headquarters reportedly on the invitation of the Minister of Defence and National Security, Tholath Ibrahim.

After discussions with Nasheed in the MNDF barracks, Nazim came out to the crowd and revealed that he had asked Nasheed to resign unconditionally before 1:30pm that afternoon, along with the commissioner of police and his deputies.

According to the panel, Nazim told the crowd that his demands were “non-negotiable”.

The protesters were then informed that Nasheed would resign, and would announce this in the President’s Office.

According to the panel, Nasheed wrote the resignation letter inside the President’s Office, and then announced it on state television – which by this stage had been stormed by a second group of police and protesters.

CNI statement “lacks legitimacy

The MDP – now in opposition – said it would not formally comment on the statement prior to the release of an official statement.

However, an MDP official told Minivan News that the party did not consider the timeline “substantial”, and said it “lacked legitimacy”.

The party was “not even interested” in the timeline because the investigation would start from scratch under the new composition.

”The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has asked the government to change the composition of the commission and the government has agreed to it. I think the current co-chair of the commission thinks that his work is over,” the party official said.

The premature release of the timeline “for public comment” was “not a good thing”, he added.

The CNI claimed that if anyone wished to propose amendments to the timeline, they should submit amendments before June 21.