The former three-member panel of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) has released a ‘timeline’ of events it claims took place from the period of January 16 to February 7, for the stated purpose of “finding public opinion”.
The composition of the panel has since been revised to include a representative of former President Mohamed Nasheed and a retired Singaporean judge, as well as international monitors from both the Commonwealth and UN.
The 282-point Dhivehi document does not feature any input from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who contested the panel’s impartiality prior to the re-composition. The report begins its findings on the day police attempted to summon Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, to the day the controversial transfer of power took place. The panel conducted interviews with assorted non-MDP participants, however the report does not source its findings.
The night of February 6
The timeline suggests the initial ‘turning point’ of the unrest began on the night of February 6, after the supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) arrived at the artificial beach in Male’ where supporters of the coalition of then-opposition parties had already been protesting, calling for the release of Judge Abdulla and for the constitution to be upheld.
The timeline states that the Specialist Operation (SO) officers of the police had stationed themselves in Heniveru Stadium, in preparation to prevent any violence that may have taken place if supporters from both sides clashed.
The report stated that police intervened after they received information that the situation was deteriorating from two police officers who were there to assess the situation.
It states that police intervention calmed the situation and cordoned a security line between the two protesting parties, after forcing them further behind the sides of the area they had been protesting.
The three member panel alleged that Minister of Home Affairs Hassan Afeef ordered Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh to withdraw police officers who had been stationed on the site. The Commissioner sent two officers to assess the situation, who reported back stating that the situation had deteriorated, which the Commissioner relayed to the Minister.
The Minister repeated the order but the Commissioner of Police refused to comply, stating that the situation could get worse if the police withdrew their forces.
According to the report, after the commissioner refused, President Nasheed himself called the commissioner and ordered him to withdraw police from the scene.
Faseeh then reportedly sent the Deputy Commissioner of Police to assess the situation, and he too relayed the situation was worsening.
The report claimed that the president called the commissioner a second time and ordered him to withdraw police from the area, stating that he “could not trust the police”.
After this order, the report said that the commissioner personally took the decision to contact the Male’ Area Commander of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), asking that the MNDF intervene as the police were withdrawing.
The statement read that the tactical officer of the SO opposed the idea of withdrawing police from the area, stating that both the protesting parties had weapons that could be used for violence, including wooden sticks and metal rods.
The SO police present in the area refused to withdraw without the MNDF arriving to take over their position, the timeline claimed.
The panel also claimed that a resignation letter was drafted by the police commissioner and was left on his table, as “the commissioner did not believe that the withdrawal of the police was the right decision.”
After the MNDF took over the area, the panel claimed that President Nasheed called the Male’ area commander and ordered him to withdraw MNDF officers from the area, giving him assurances that the MDP supporters would not resort to any kind of violence.
However, the statement read that when MNDF withdrew their officers from the area, violent confrontations began and there “bottles and objects” thrown by both protesting parties, which led the MNDF to intervene again.
The statement claimed that some of the SO police officers who had been in the Artifical Beach area then went to the MDP protest camp and vandalised the premises, and attacked some of the MDP supporters inside.
An MNDF SWAT team arrived after the SO police officers left premises, “to guard the area”, the panel stated.
The statement read that, as the usual routine of the police is to fall in at the Republican Square after protests ended; the police officers retreated and convened to the area.
The panel said that initially the MNDF attempted to arrest the police officers who by then had begun to gather in Republic Square, adjacent to police and military headquarters. However the MNDF reportedly decided to negotiate with the police officers as the military was outnumbered and police had similar equipment to the MNDF officers.
According to the report, police told the MNDF officers who were sent to negotiate with them that would begin following orders again after they were given assurances that they would not be ordered to carry out any unlawful orders, and that no action be taken against any of the officers regarding their involvement.
“The MNDF officers assured them that the MNDF would not confront police officers in the area,” the panel claimed.
During the negotiations, the panel claimed that police requested to meet the commissioner of police. The MNDF officials proposed officers go into the MNDF headquarters to to meet the commissioner, but police said they wanted to meet the commissioner inside police headquarters.
It was decided that the commissioner would meet meet in Iskandhar Koshi, an MNDF barracks on the other side of Male’, to the police officers initially agreed. However, police rejected the idea after the MNDF insisted the police go without their weapons and riot gear.
President’s arrival to Republic Square and his resignation
The panel claimed that in the early morning of February 7, between 5:00am to 6:00am, President Nasheed informed the commissioner that he wanted to meet the police officers who were at Republican Square.
It further claimed that the President also ordered the commissioner to meet the police officers in Republic Square, however the commissioner left military headquarters and entered police headquarters without meeting police gathered outside the building.
Before meeting the police, Nasheed asked one of the MNDF commanders whether he had any reservations over arresting the protesting police officers, to which the commander reportedly replied that he did.
The President then reportedly told the commander that it would be better if he stayed at home for the time being, however two other commanders also told the President that they had reservations and left.
The panel claimed that Nasheed then told the police officers that they had “done something wrong” and requested they hand themselves over to the MNDF. Police refused the order.
According the panel, Nasheed then returned to military headquarters and ordered the MNDF officers inside the barracks to go outside and arrest the officers who had disobeyed him.
At this point, some of the MNDF officers left the barracks and joined the police officers protesting.
While Nasheed was inside the MNDF base, the panel claimed that the President’s secretariat informed cabinet members that there would be a cabinet meeting, but failed to inform Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan as two key staff of the VP’s secretariat had not reported to work.
The panel also claimed that the then-President of the MDP, Dr Ibrahim Didi, called Nasheed and discussed how to resolve the ongoing unrest. Nasheed reportedly asked for Didi’s help in releasing a joint statement by the president and leaders of the opposition parties.
It said that Didi had then contacted opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader, Abdulla Yameen, however both of them declined to help unless Nasheed personally requested they do so.
Dr Didi then informed Nasheed of this response, who told him to make a decision after discussing the matter with MDP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former Chairperson of the Party, MP Mariya Ahmed Didi.
The panel alleged that Dr Didi tried contacting MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, who did not respond, and then contacted MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who said he would get back to Dr Didi after consulting on the issue with Nasheed.
After the reply from MP Solih was delayed, Didi reportedly called Nasheed back, and was told that the High Commissioner of India, Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, would contact him.
According to the panel, Mulay contacted Dr Didi and asked him to come to the High Commission. When Dr Didi arrived to the High Commission, the opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group leader Yameen was already there.
According to the panel, as Dr Didi, Mulay and Yameen were discussing how to resolve the crisis, MP Solih called Yameen and informed him that Nasheed was going to resign.
Didi then reportedly contacted Nasheed and asked to him to give the phone to Yameen.
According to the panel, Nasheed informed Yameen that he was going to resign and asked him to ensure the safety of his family, to which Yameen replied that he would do everything to ensure the safety of Nasheed’s family.
The meeting adjourned after the president informed them that he would resign.
New MNDF commander
Meanwhile, according to the panel, two civilians: resigned police officer Abdulla Riyaz (the new Police Commissioner) and dismissed MNDF officer Ahmed Nazim (now the Defence Minister), entered the MNDF headquarters reportedly on the invitation of the Minister of Defence and National Security, Tholath Ibrahim.
After discussions with Nasheed in the MNDF barracks, Nazim came out to the crowd and revealed that he had asked Nasheed to resign unconditionally before 1:30pm that afternoon, along with the commissioner of police and his deputies.
According to the panel, Nazim told the crowd that his demands were “non-negotiable”.
The protesters were then informed that Nasheed would resign, and would announce this in the President’s Office.
According to the panel, Nasheed wrote the resignation letter inside the President’s Office, and then announced it on state television – which by this stage had been stormed by a second group of police and protesters.
CNI statement “lacks legitimacy
The MDP – now in opposition – said it would not formally comment on the statement prior to the release of an official statement.
However, an MDP official told Minivan News that the party did not consider the timeline “substantial”, and said it “lacked legitimacy”.
The party was “not even interested” in the timeline because the investigation would start from scratch under the new composition.
”The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has asked the government to change the composition of the commission and the government has agreed to it. I think the current co-chair of the commission thinks that his work is over,” the party official said.
The premature release of the timeline “for public comment” was “not a good thing”, he added.
The CNI claimed that if anyone wished to propose amendments to the timeline, they should submit amendments before June 21.