"More harm has been done by the premature removal of President Mohamed Nasheed from office, than any harm he could have done during the remaining term of office."
Mohamed Visham, Haveeru Online
Jun 21, 2012 - 08:06 13 comments
In an exclusive interview with Haveeru, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed who resigned shortly after the now controversial resignation of Nasheed on February 7, Ghafoor reveals the reasons and questions he had with the regime change which prompted him to tender his resignation.
“Its (transfer of power) certainly superficial. President Waheed was sworn in after Nasheed announced his resignation in accordance with the constitution. But a government should never be ousted by taking to the streets. It’s clearly not how this should have happened. ,” the seasoned diplomat who had also served in the Foreign Service during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration said.
President Nasheed had resigned amid weeks of opposition led protests over the arrest and subsequent detention of Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed capped off by a police mutiny. Since stepping down however, Nasheed has claimed that he had resigned under duress which he labels as a “coup d’état” backed by his successor and then the Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
Detailing his views on the role of the mutinous police officers and later the military in the circumstances that led to Nasheed’s resignation, Ghafoor said there had been an “unacceptable level of involvement of the security forces.”
“Yes there certainly were constitutionally questionable acts by Nasheed during his tenure as the President. But whether he was fit to remain as President or not was up to the people. It’s not the mandate of the security forces but the mandate of the people. It is their right. But due to what transpired, that right and mandate of the people have now been denied,” Ghafoor stressed.
“Nasheed was always unorthodox. Some of his actions had been outside the box of constitutional governance. But there were institutions even if not the strongest, the opposition and the Parliament to keep him in check. There were entities in place to rein him in whenever Nasheed strayed out of that box. It’s not a question of how Nasheed governed, but how he was removed.”
Ghafoor also raised questions over the appointments of Abdulla Riyaz as the Police Commissioner and Mohamed Nazim as the Defence Minister when they both had been leading the negotiations with Nasheed and the mutinying police officers at the Republic of Square on the morning of February 7.
Video recordings of the day have revealed Nazim relaying the only condition of resignation presented to Nasheed to the police and military officers gathered at the Square. Subsequent jubilant scenes of celebrations have also been recorded after seemingly, news of Nasheed’s acceptance of the condition filtered out of the army barracks to the Republic Square even before Nasheed had officially announced that he was stepping down.
“Nazim and Riyaz negotiated Nasheed’s resignation and their subsequent appointment as the heads of the security forces certainly raises questions,” Ghafoor said.
Touching on the subject of President Waheed’s alleged role in the transition of government, Ghafoor highlighted what he believed was dubious actions of the then VP. On that note, he highlighted the mysterious meeting Waheed had with the then leaders of the opposition parties in the wee hours of morning just days before Nasheed’s resignation.
“The VP has a constitutional obligation to perform the duties assigned by the President. Especially during such a critical juncture, a meeting of this nature should have been official. An on record meeting where one, he should have had the consent of the president, two, minutes of the meeting should have been taken and three, he should have briefed the cabinet of events and discussions of the meeting. But the fact that such basic formalities had been ignored leaves room for doubt over the transparency and what actually transpired during that meeting,” Ghafoor detailed.
“We now know that the nation was on full alert that night. At such a critical stage the government should have been speaking in one voice. But the VP chose to make a statement on private television station VTV, owned by one of the opposition leaders when he had access and option to do the same on State television MNBC One.”
“I’m not a legal expert and hence I’m not in a position to comment on any legal aspects. But these events are indeed ethically and morally questionable.”
Pointing out the address to the nation made by Waheed after taking the oath of office, Ghafoor said he felt as though it was a “victory speech.”
“Waheed in his address implied that the people had won. But for me the people had lost. Police mutinying and protesting in a place (Republic Square) where such demonstrations are banned that led to Nasheed’s resignation was really shameful,” Ghafoor said.
“It was a sad, disappointing and shameful day in the history of the Maldives.”