President Dr Mohamed Waheed has appointed a new member to the Committee of National Inquiry, replacing Ahmed Mujthaba.
The commission, created to investigate the events that unfolded in the Maldives during the period from 14 January to 8 February, now includes former minister of defence and national security during President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration, Ismail Shafeeu, Dr Ibrahim Yasir, and new member Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef.
Mujthaba stepped down as he was also the convener of the all-party consultative meetings, and, according to a statement from the President’s Office, “the President believes a conflict of interest could arise in fulfilling the two functions.”
Ahmed Mujthaba was Gayoom’s former minister of tourism and the first president of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).
Shafeeu will head the commission, the President’s Office stated.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has challenged the questioned the impartiality of the commission, particularly given the involvement of former ministers under Gayoom.
“How can [the government] carry out an impartial investigation, when they themselves were involved in the actions during that time period?” said MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor earlier this week.
“This is exactly the same type of commission that was formed during Gayoom’s regime to look into the events that unfolded in Maafushi Jail in 2003, including the custodial death of Evan Naseem,” Ghafoor said.
“Look what happened to the report they published then – people questioned it, and part of it was censored. We are calling for a third party consisting of international experts to come and into look into the matter. We absolutely do not believe that this commission will be impartial in investigating the matter.”
The Commonwealth concurred with the need for international involvement, stating that it “strongly felt that there should be international participation in any investigative mechanism, as may be mutually agreed by political parties in Maldives.”