"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expressions in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam" - Article 27 - Constitution of the Republic of Maldives … [THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN] … 'Kratos Demos' ...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Coup d'état in the Maldives ??

President Nasheed writes his resignation letter

Maldives observed a change of government on 7th February 2012. Continuous protests brought  Nasheed's Presidency to a brink, and the 7th February Mutiny became the end for the first democratically elected President of the country. With Mohamed Nasheed's resignation, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Maniku, took oath of office as the President. Of course as per the Constitution

The following day Maldives woke up to hear allegations and conspiracy of a Coup d'état. "By all definitions it was a Coup" Nasheed spoke out. 

By definition, a Coup d'état is a strike against the State. It is a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force. Question is: 'was this the indubitable setting in Maldives on that February Tuesday'? 

The Events - End of a Presidency

Events that led to his resignation was bloody to some extent. After the continuous series of protests against the 'enforced disappearance' of Criminal court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, by Anti-Government protesters, factions of the Maldives Police Service mutinied over what they called 'being given unlawful orders' and demanded Commissioner of Police Ahemd Faseeh to meet them and assure them that they will not be given unlawful orders anymore. 

Article 64 of the Constitution: Non-compliance with unlawful orders state that "No employee of the State shall impose any orders on a person except under authority of a law. Everyone has the right not to obey an unlawful order". The mutinying Police were requesting that this Article be honored.

At this point Police did not call for the President's resignation, very clearly their only demand was an assurance by their Commissioner. This never happened. Instead what we witnessed in the Maldives were confrontations with Pro-Government supporters and mutinying police, followed by clashes with the Maldivian National Defense Force (MNDF) who were trying to take control of the situation.

As morning broke, President Nasheed came to the scene, must say a brave attempt, faced the mutinying Police and tried to address them, he was responded by "Sir, No Sir". With that failed attempt he was moved into the Maldivian National Defense Headquarters (adjacent to the Republic square)

Frankly, it is unsure when and how the demands to meet the Commissioner of Police changed to the call for Nasheed's resignation.
Mutinying Police and Anti-Government Protesters
On either side of the Republic square, MDP Pro-Government Protesters and Anti-Government Protesters were very much present, the mutinying Police were somewhat in between the two protesting parties. The Anti-Government protest that was stationed just behind the mutinying Police constantly called for the resignation of the President. While the Pro-Government Protesters were supporting Nasheed and against the mutiny. 

The Defense force who were handling the situation were called into their Headquarters, they had to leave at the nick of this crucial, critical and rather flammable setup on orders; An order the ground commander First Lt. Ali Ihusaan later stated as 'unreasonable on ethical and moral standards'. As soon as they left the scene, situation turned extremely violent and bloody. Pro-Government and mutinying forces clashed. 

Defense force did come out into the scene again and tried to control the situation which caused serious confrontations between them and the Police. By now some of the Soldiers defected into the mutiny. Anti-Government protesters, mutinying Police and defected Soldiers were all together calling for the resignation of the President and all havoc broke down on Republic Square. 
Mutinying Police and Defense Forces clash
Rumors spread fast that Nasheed had ordered use of live ammunition against the protesters (which Nasheed denies till date and states that he resigned because he did not wish to take that last resort). Meanwhile a group of defector Security Forces (Police and Defense Force) marched and destroyed the main MDP Haruge' (Maldivian Democratic Party, Headquarters) and also forced their way into the State Broadcast Media Station, MNBC and took control of the Station. 

Later on a DhiTV program 7th February, MNDF First Lt. Ali Ihusaan confirmed that at first, the Defense Force did not want to get involved in what was presenting itself as an internal Police matter. And that they were trying to opt and encourage a more peaceful solution. He also confirmed that there was no order or indication from Nasheed to use live ammunition (MNDF has maintained this on various statements).

Leaked video footage inside the National Defense Headquarters show Nasheed commanding his Security force to "Go out there and handle the situation. Country is being destroyed". 

On another leaked audio clip that came out exclusively on an SBS documentary "Mutiny in the Maldives" by famous Australian Journalist Mark Davis. Nasheed can be heard addressing Security forces in the Defense Headquarters:

"I want to request that you protect my family ... You should do this under the circumstances ... I will settle this with you first, right here, Okay? Then I will go to the President's Office and Publicly announce that in my view, the best thing for this country right now is my resignation. Is that alright? So that's what I ll say"

He was repeatedly answered back "Yes Sir" and that "We will protect you, Sir". Showed that he did have a guaranteed safe passage from the Defense Headquarters to the President's Office and safety to him and his family. 

On the documentary Nasheed says "That was an attempt for me to get out from where I was, the Army Headquarters". He goes on to tell Davis "Yes, I could have hold on, but that would have been on a huge cost to the people ... there would have been a lot of blood".

It is important to note that within the Defense Headquarters, before Nasheed made his mind to resign, he asked the Force whether he should submit resignation. After repeating this question more than once, there were calls for him to resign within the force. 

(Of course these are not all the events that unfolded on that day, but the important events worth noting. I hope to write a separate detailed post of the events that took place on 07/02/12 later.)

The Resignation - A legal hand over. 

President Nasheed formally resigns with his cabinet on the side
I witnessed a man of honor, dignity and pride address a Nation. Those admirable words will remain echoed in my heart, as President Nasheed, with a sincere cabinet by his side affirmed his people;

"I resign because I am not a person who wished to rule with the use of power ... I believe that if the government were to remain in power it would require the use of force which would harm many citizens ... I wish the Maldive would have a consolidated democracy. I wish for justice to be established. My wish is for the progress and prosperity of the people". 

His letter of resignation was handed over to the Speaker of the People Majlis as constituted in Article 121(a) of the constitution; 'The President may resign from office by writing under his hand submitted to the Speaker of the People's Majlis, and the office shall be vacant when the resignation is received by the Speaker'

Nasheed did have a cabinet meeting before addressing the Nation on TV, he did have his cabinet by his side. Yet Nasheed openly stated that he was pretty much forced into resignation and metaphorically was held at gunpoint. Can this be justified?

Dr. Ibrahim Didi, elected leader and President of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who also was the Fisheries Minister at the time was reported stating that during the last Cabinet meeting held in the Presidents office prior to resignation, Nasheed did not mention that he was being 'forced' into it. While President Dr. Waheed stated on 101 East - Al Jazeera Program 'Coup on Coral Islands?' that Nasheed did not indicate to him that he was at all 'forced' to submit a resignation.

Well, fact is what better podium and what better time would it have been but on that Tuesday for Nasheed to let the world know that he had been forced out of office. He had the media on him. He had a nation watching. If only he had said "It was a coup, and by all definitions it is a coup" right then and there !!

Maybe he was considering the situation the nation would fall into, with his party leaders already hospitalized after confrontations earlier. Was he giving way to a peaceful transition? If he had said this was indeed a coup then and there, what would have been the situation of the country?

The Allegation - The 'situational' leaders.

Abdulla Riyaz (Fmr. Asst. Commissioner of Police), Mohamed Nazim (Rtd. Colonel) and Mohamed Fayaz - FA (Fmr. Deputy Commissioner of Police), are three figures have repeatedly been accused as coup leaders, all three coming from decorated national service backgrounds, were mere civilians on that February Tuesday. Images and videos show their presence at the scene, in front of the Maldives National Defense Force building where Nasheed was based at (after his attempts earlier to resolve the issue with the mutinying police force outside, which probably would have worked if he had choose a different set of words).

On occasion Abdulla Riyaz and Mohamed Nazim are seen entering to the building, which they later justify as to it was on request of then Defense Minister, Tholhath Ibrahim Kalyfan. All three maintained that they came to the scene as concerned ex-service men and that they played a mediator role between the angry mob of mixed Mutinying Police and protesters.

Nazim was seen addressing the crowds on one instance where he said;

"I just came out after meeting the Defense Minister and Senior officials of the Military. We made our proposal, that was - The President should resign unconditionally."

Nazim is also seen to state later that "The President Resigned on his own will and without any pressure"

Riyaz stated on 101 East - Al Jazeera Program that he believed that they were "situational leaders" that happen to be there on that day.

With the change of government Abdulla Riyaz, was reinstated as an Assistant Commissioner of Police and then promoted as the Commissioner of Police. While Mohamed Nazim was appointed as the new Defense Minister and Mohamed Fayaz (who was serving as a State Minister in Nasheed's government) was transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs as its State Minister.

Nasheed and MDP have made allegations that Riyaz, Nazim and fayaz have indeed been handsomely rewarded in acknowledgement for their role in orchestrating the Coup d'état.

Well, are the three respected ex-service men really coup leaders?? or were they out there to solve a critical National Security situation?? What would have happened if they did not intervene??

The Conspiracy - "Bagee" Waheed

President Dr. Waheed
Nasheed on several occasions have associated Dr. Waheed with the Coup. Nasheed say's that Dr. Waheed was aware of a planned coup and that he was part of it.

During the continuous series of protests over the 'enforced disappearance' of  Judge Abdulla Mohamed, Opposition leaders, and the 23 December Ithihaad (made up by different Civil Societies and all major opposition parties at the time) met with Dr. Waheed at his residence. 

And publicly the Anti-Nasheed coalition called the Police and Security Forces to swear allegiance to the Vice President Dr. Waheed. Repeatedly they denied Nasheed as the lawful President of the country.

On the night of chaos, when all hell was loose in the country, Dr. Waheed issued a press release where he goes on to say:

"During this dangerous situation facing the nation it is my duty to say a few words. I support the peaceful efforts of a large number of Maldivians trying to protect the Maldives Constitution and Religion. At this time I call upon all the institutions especially law enforcement agencies (the military) to uphold the constitution and the laws of the country. Refrain from obeying unconstitutional and illegal instructions. During this difficult times no chance should be given to anyone trying to hurt the people of our country or damage their property, especially no room should be afforded to those who would damage news agencies and media. I am saddened that VTV and other places in Male' have been attacked. I call on those who are involved in this to immediately cease all such activities. As your Vice President I am preapared to do everything possible to overcome this situation."

On Al Jazeera 101 East interview Journalist Fauziah Ibrahim asks Dr. Waheed:

"We have seen footage of security forces out on the streets; we have seen people demanding for the resignation of the then President Nasheed. Mainly these people have been the security officers. That's what we are seeing from the video. Also, we have video footage of your current defense minister entering the barracks and then coming out of the barracks demanding the President's resignation. We see him also in the President's office just before and after the resignation. Now, at that point he was just a civilian. Why was a civilian given so much privilege access?"

To which Dr. Waheed gives on very simple answer:

"I have no idea because I was not part of what happened that day." 

Practically denying any knowledge of events that were happening in the country.

He also goes on to tell Fauziah: 

"I think he (Nasheed) just lost it. He lost it and realised what a blunder he had made. Maybe this was a trick he was playing on the people; I don’t know. But he resigned voluntarily and in front of the camera. He could have said under the circumstances, I am being forced to resign, but he didn’t. He didn’t give any indication, any clue. He could have called me and said Waheed, I am being forced to resign."

While, MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, MDP Spokesperson told the media later, that on February 7th Nasheed did  in fact try to contact Dr. Waheed, as he was then Nasheed's Vice President, but his calls went unanswered. 

MDP and Nasheed is linking the unexpected events that changed the Government claiming Dr. Waheed's involvement that he was aware of the unfolding coup in the country. Thus calling him "Baagee" (Rebel) Waheed and an illegitimate President.

Did Dr. Waheed have any role whatsoever in the events that led to Nasheed's resignation? Was he aware of the alleged Coup d'état in the Maldives ?? 

Coup ?? No Coup ??

As for now events that unfolded on that Tuesday, 7th February, can not be concluded by saying it was a Coup or it was not a Coup. There are signs that this may in fact be a Coup and there are those that show a swift change of Government after a legal resignation and legal take over. 

Maldives Police Service

People in the Maldives have a right to know what happened on 7th February 2012. They need to know how and why their elected President resigned. People of the Maldives have a right to know the truth behind the allegations and conspiracy. 

From what I see there is one solution: We need an independent inquiry and investigation into the matter. A commission or team that is not appointed by the President but by the Peoples Majlis, with international observers: an investigation transparent to the fullest with presence of media and other independent watchdogs. 

Only then can we answer the question: Coup d'état in the Maldive ??

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