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Maldives: Countdown To CoNI – OpEd

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By Daniel Bosley

Two hundred and four days will have passed by the time the Committee of National Inquiry – or CoNI – delivers its report on the events surrounding the resignation of the Maldives’ first democratically elected President, Mohamed Nasheed, on February 7.

The controversy of the transfer of power led Nasheed’s successor, and former Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, to assemble the committee within two weeks of his promotion.

On August 30th, with one timeline of events already released, one re-shuffle of its membership, testimony from over 300 witnesses, multiple delays and endless criticism; the commission will distribute its final report to the public.

Maldives
Maldives

Last week, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) suggestion that the government sit down with it to determine a post-CoNI gameplan was met with a flat refusal to discuss any issues related to the ongoing investigation.

“There’s no need to make the report a political carnival,” said President’s Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza.

Unfortunately, with anticipation growing each day, other members of the government appear more than happy to speculate on the report’s outcomes and its results. Like it or not, politicians of all stripes cannot resist discussing their potential victory parades.

The MDP appear to be placing their to hopes on the report’s finding of illegal activity on the part of the security forces, an outcome Nasheed has said he is “certain of beyond doubt”, resulting in irresistible pressure on President Waheed to schedule early elections.

Meanwhile, government-aligned politicians seem content to console themselves with the fact that the CoNI’s investigation is not a criminal one and so its findings will not come with any specific legal obligations.

The report will be distributed to the relevant governmental departments the day before its release to the public, giving the independent institutions still learning to find their feet after thirty years of autocracy, a twenty-four hour grace period before the nation’s expectant gaze falls upon them

Perhaps inevitably, this has led some to lay the ground for dismissing the report’s findings entirely. Former President/dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom emerged from giving his testimony to the commission to announce his refusal to accept any conclusion describing Nasheed’s departure from office as a coup.

Following the rebuttal of its advances, the MDP has resolved to call a meeting of its National Council to thrash out its own post-CoNI strategy. With the potential of 48,000 registered party members gathering from across the atolls, the council meeting will be as much a show of strength as an exercise in inter-party democracy.

Sporadic clashes between protesters and security forces over the past six months, most notably on the day after Nasheed’s resignation, have brought fears of further violence in the wake of CoNI’s long-anticipated outcome.

The MDP’s decision this month to cease all anti-government demonstrations in order to encourage meaningful dialogue between parties feels like the calm before the storm rather than an easing of tensions.

“There is no more anxiety among the ranks of MNDF pending the CONI report than there is among the general public,” said Minister of Defence, Mohamed Nazim.

“We are only concerned about the safety of the public. We do not want to see any violence against anyone, we certainly do not wish to see any arson or other damages to public property,” he continued.

Talks intended to resolve the political impasse have ebbed more than flowed over the past six months. Roadmap talks, initiated with Indian encouragement and UN mediation, have struggled to gain traction.

A discernible lack of political motivation can be felt as both sides appear to be placing all of their eggs in the CoNI basket, with the inevitable result that one will end up with some on their face at the end of this month.

Similarly, the international community, after playing an active role in burnishing the impartiality and independence of CoNI, will be using the report’s findings as a cue for its next move.

Regardless of the decisions of Maldivian institutions, should CoNI find evidence of illegal activities prior to Nasheed’s resignation, calls from the international community for early elections would become deafening.

This is something the MDP, packed with veterans of non-violent pro-democracy campaigns, are acutely aware of.

Whatever the outcome of the report, its release undoubtedly marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Maldives’ current political drama. Traditional rules of theatre suggest that things will always get worse in the second act, before eventual resolution in the third.

After six months of polarisation and internecine dispute, many will be hoping that the Maldives can skip forward a few pages after CoNI concludes its work on August 29th.

Daniel Bosley is a journalist currently writing for Minivan News in the Maldives. He can be contacted at [email protected] or via Twitter @dbosley80.

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6 thoughts on “Maldives: Countdown To CoNI – OpEd

  • August 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm
    Permalink

    “This is something the MDP, packed with veterans of non-violent pro-democracy campaigns, are acutely aware of.”

    What an amazing comment! MDP is actually very violent in all their current demonstrations. Daniel Bosley is not an unbiased writer but a publicity agent for MDP.

    The problem in Maldives is that we have two cult figures in Nasheed and Gayoom and both of them are hell bent on destroying Maldives for their own personal gain. Until both of them are removed from politics or their influence from politics, we, the Maldivians would suffer.

    It is time the International community took Maldives seriously and with an unbiased look and force the retirement of both Gayoom and Nasheed from politics completely if they want democracy to sustain in Maldives.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm
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    Very well written article, Daniel Bosley. Sharp, lucid and up to the point.

    And please ignore Manik. These selfish types who jumps at any job these coup govt offers have no clue about what non-violent pro-democracy is about.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2012 at 6:08 am
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    The writer works at minivan news which is a group run and funded by MDP. They have a radio station along with a local daily newspaper which broadcast nothing but MDP propagenda. Their english language website is run by a foreigner with foreign ‘journalists’ like Mr. Bosley. Similar to other arms of the minivan group, the website is very much biased for MDP. All the news reports they publish is in favour of their paymaster-MDP. They have a history of not covering any story which may present MDP in a bad light.
    So, we have to read this report by someone working for a political party paper with a pinch of salt. I’m not suprised that Mr. Bosley has claimed that MDP is packed with non violent pro democracy campaigners. Nothing is far from the truth. MDP is filled with violent, mob style activists who regularly attack policemen, public properties, journalists and even small children. They spread hatred and encourage violence against police force. Many security personels have been attacked and even one police officer was stabbed to death as a result of their hate mongering.
    These people are not friendly to journalists either. They harrass anyone who doesnt work in one of their sponsered outlets. They have attacked the studios of a private channel and brought it off air.
    These people are the culprits of the worst case of arson maldives have ever witnessed. They have burnt down many police stations, courts, accomodation flats, etc.
    These people keep on harassing their opponents on the street, not even sparing the young children.
    Ofcoure, you wont know these facts by reading MDP propagenda machines like minivan news and we dont expect anything much from people working their either.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2012 at 7:23 am
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    The article only show a glimpse of the situation of Maldives at the moment. The coup regime is the coalition formed by all the opposition parties against the MDP government of Nasheed, so it is MDP vs the rest situation, where MDP activist face daily confrontation and beating by the brutal police protecting the regime until ten days ago, Nasheed calls to postpone demonstration to pave way for dialogue.
    Demonstrator are bare handed, even the frame-less posters are snatched by the police.
    Now as the CONi report publishing date is near, there is a general fear that police or regime backed street mobs may disturb peace by attacking MDP senor figures to provoke violence as a means to create chaos and curfew to imprison the key figures of the MDP. This fear is real and only way to avoid is a strong international observers presence in Male’ before and after the publication of the CONI report.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2012 at 9:20 am
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    There is fear that no action would be taken after CoNI report. Recent audio leak shows defense minister saying only administrative measures willbe taken but it wont affect anyone. This means that pro democracy fighters will have much to be done.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2012 at 11:21 am
    Permalink

    Excellent piece, well written. Exactly my thoughts on the matter as well. Our journalists fail miserably when writing articles of this nature which are actually fact-based and doesn’t lean towards any party involved in the article. Once again a job well done.

    Reply

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