By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.
It was definitely a coup. Given the information that has come out, I don’t see how anyone can credibly argue otherwise. – Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, former foreign minister of Maldives
Increasing circumstantial evidence that is surfacing in Maldives indicates that it was no “voluntary resignation” by former President Nasheed, but something forced on him by outsiders who were the immediate beneficiaries of the new regime. This includes the present Defence Minister – Col. (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim.
One can blame Nasheed for his authoritative style of working or failing to understand the under currents of Islam pervading in the country, but he cannot be accused of telling a lie when he says that he has been forced to quit at “gun point.”
Video Recordings now show that the present Defence Minister who was just a civilian then and the present Commissioner of Police, Abdulla Riyaz who was dismissed by Nasheed’s regime entering the MNDF Headquarters and then addressing the mutinous security forces in the Republican Square telling them over a loudspeaker that he has conveyed their demands that included President’s “unconditional resignation.”
Later, he was also seen with new Commissioner carrying the resignation letter of the President. How was he allowed to enter the MNDF barracks? On what basis did he carry the resignation letter? These are the questions that are likely to be asked when a serious investigation is made.
It now transpires that besides the retired Col. Nazim and the dismissed Police Commissioner Riyal, former Chief Inspector ‘FA’ Fayaz was also present when the trio went upto Nasheed and demanded his immediate resignation along that of the resignation of then Commissioner of Police Faseeh and Asst. Commissioner Athees.
It is good that President Waheed has announced an “independent and impartial investigation” into developments in Maldives between January 14 and February 8. In his website he has said that the investigation would create ” factual and legal clarity” around events with a “direct bearing on the constitutional transfer of executive power that took pace on February 7.”
The issue is simple. Was Nasheed forced into resigning? If at all an investigation is to be done, it should only relate to the question whether the former President was forced to quit. By specifying the date of January 14, the hope of those in power is that the resignation and change of guard all began because of the unlawful arrest of the Chief criminal Judge.
If the idea is to examine the events that led to the forced/voluntary resignation of Nasheed, then the investigation should go back to the date of 23rd of December when the Islamists and the entire opposition joined hands in a mass rally against the government that eventually resulted in Nasheed being forced to quit.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) is sending an urgent ministerial mission to “ascertain the facts surrounding the transfer of power and to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles.” This action is in pursuance of a new mandate given to the commonwealth to consider “situations of concerns in member countries in a pro active, engaged and a positive manner.”
On the 12th the President expanded his cabinet with seven more members besides the other two involved in the “operation topple.”
Of these, five are said to be hardcore political supporters of former President Gayoom. The other non political ones are experts in political economy and public health.
In the disturbed situation that was seen, a few Islamic hardliners attacked the Maldives national Museum on 8th morning and destroyed several historical artifacts. The vandals targeted Buddhist relics and specimens retrieved from Buddhist monasteries that depicted the pre Islamic life in Maldives.
A coral stone of Lord Buddha of 11th century recovered from Thoddoo in Alifu Atoll was smashed to pieces. Other items destroyed included Bohomala sculptures, monkey statues, a broken statue of Hindu God “Makara.” Even the glass case housing the artifacts was not spared.
I am reminded of the open destruction of Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan, but what worries me is the shape of things that are likely come in the future. The religious extremists will have to be controlled but can it be done when the new regime owes it position to the very same perpetrators of wanton vandalism?