The former Maldivian President, Mohamed Nasheed, was not ousted in a coup, a commission of enquiry has concluded.
The Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) was set up by the Maldivian government to probe if the events of February 7 constituted a coup. On that day, President Mohamed Nasheed had stepped down and Vice-President Mohamed Waheed assumed office as per the Constitution.
The commission, in a report released on Thursday, concluded that “there was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any coup d’etat. The Commission has received no evidence supporting or to substantiate these allegations”.
The commission, co-chaired by a Singapore judge and which included two international observers, said: “A coup d’etat required a positive action against President Nasheed. Non-action and inaction cannot constitute a coup d’etat. Moreover, the Constitution does not call for loyalty of anyone to the President. It calls for loyalty to the Constitution.”
“As there was no illegally coerced resignation of the President on February 7, 2012, and as the subsequent transfer of power followed precisely the prescriptions of the Constitution, the Commission has no recommendation on these matters.”
Having seen the draft of the report earlier, Mr. Nasheed’s representative on CoNI Ahmed Saeed resigned on Wednesday night as his Maldivian Democratic Party could not have settled for anything less than the commission saying the transfer of power constituted a coup. “He resigned reiterating his initial reservations of incomplete investigation and his responsibility to uphold his moral integrity to the people as a citizen. It appears the CoNI have not been able to reach an ‘agreement’ as expected by Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon,” the MDP said in a statement.
On Wednesday night, Mr. Nasheed and MDP supporters camped at a rally point in south-east Male. They called for the military and the police to remove “coup-installed” Defence Minister Colonel Nazim and Police Commissioner Riyaz. They dispersed at around 3 a.m.
Reports from Male indicate that the capital is calm. Protests usually begin later in the evening in the Maldives and end a little after midnight.
President Mr. Waheed said the report legitimised the regime. “It is time to stop questioning the legitimacy of the government. It is time to stop illegal activities and activities that go against generally acceptable social norms,” he said.
The United States, one of the countries that egged on Maldives to include independent observers, welcomed the report and called upon all parties to respect the findings. In Washington DC, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said: “Now is the time for all parties to work together through dialogue to chart a positive way forward that respects the Maldivian constitution, democratic institutions, human rights, and the will of the Maldivian people.”
A day ahead of the release of the report, the Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman said: “India hopes that all political parties in the Maldives would take up the issues arising out of the CNI report through a peaceful political dialogue, to make a way forward for resolving the political situation in the country.”
As international support for his reinstatement as President dwindles, and as his opponents gang up in Maldives, Mr. Nasheed finds himself at the crossroads yet again. A hero who came to power in the first democratic elections in 2008, he still is the most popular leader in Maldives. But the combined opposition has the numbers in Parliament, and has been winning almost all by-elections since he left office as President.