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#Maldives: Decisive win at #CMAG by President Waheed, death knoll for Nasheed?

#Maldives' decisive win at the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) may be the death knoll for ex-President Nasheed's political ambitions. The unconditional removal of Maldives from the CMAG Agenda and the invitation for Maldives to resume its seat in the group came without any restrictions on legal actions towards Nasheed. The rumor of such restrictions had been widely circulated by Nasheed and his party Maldivian Democratic Party in the days leading to the CMAg Report.

The CMAG decision is the most recent in the line of a long list of victories by President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik,in the sustained attacks on the Presidency by Mohamed Nasheed who resigned on February 7th this year. Nasheed resigned after months of public anger and dissatisfaction with his corrupt and incompetent Administration, and amidst days of popular unrest at his violation of constitutional rights and human rights abuse.

In addition to the CoNI Report, the landmark reports by two key independent institutions, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and the Police Intergrity Commission (PIC), issued in August and September 2012, found that Nasheed had violated constitutional rights, human rights, laws, regulations and procedures. The HRCM Report was issued after an investigation at the request of the independent Prosecutor General into Nasheed's arbitrary arrest of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed and the hudge's subsequent detention in solitary confinement on Nasheed's orders. The Prsoecutor General has lodged criminal charges against Nasheed and 4 other officials for human rights violations in the case of Judge Abdulla Mohamed's arrest.

In the light of these findings of these independent institutions and subsequent legal actions by the Prosecutor General, since August 2012, Nasheed's political future has been finely balanced solely on a perceived support of the international community. The UK, where Nasheed has a strong lobby with private investors such as millionnaire Richard Branson, has provided the most support to Nasheed after his resignation. The entry of CMAG into the fray is also seen to be due to UK's strong influence in the group. However, this too, as with many of Nasheed's claims, have been shown to be unsubstantial in the light of his crimes.

With CMAG's decision last night, the transfer of power on February 7th to his Vice President, current President Waheed, has been accepted by all international organizations and countries as legal and constitutional. The first to do so was India, rapidly followed by the US. Then by China, Russia, the UN and all other major players in the international arena except the UK and Commonwealth. Last night's CMAG decision completes the list, although the UK's endorsement has been more reserved than all others as is to be expected given the political influence of his rich British supporters and the close links between Nasheed's party Maldivian Democratic Party and the Conservative Party.

CMAG's decision issued last night accept without reservation the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that there was no coup, as alleged by Nasheed 48 hours after he resigned. The CoNI was convened by President Waheed to investigate and report on allegations by Nasheed that he was forced to resign due to a military coup led by 18 military officers bearing guns. CoNI found that, contrary to Nasheed's allegations, the military had no role in his resignation and no threats were issued.

The CoNI's manadate and composition was strengthened early in the year to address international concerns about its impartiality and independence. In its final report, issued in end August 2012, CoNI made major recommendations including those to strengthen independent institutions, to address human rights abuse allegations against security forces in the aftermath of the transfer of power, and to strengthen the Judiciary. These have been endorsed by all major international partners of the Maldives, with pledges of support in this work. President Waheed had reiterated his commitment to implement these recommendations.

In the light of this, CMAG last night requested the Maldives to keep it informed on the process of implementing these recommendations, scheduling these updates in its agenda under "Other Matters". This latter decisions has been latched onto by Nasheed like drowning man grabbing on to a lifeline, with his party officials desperately trying to mislead the general public that Maldives is still under threat from expulsion from the Commonwealth unless Nasheed is handed back the Presidency. However, as has been pointed by top legal expert and MP for Kulhudhuffushi South Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives would not have been invited to resume its seat on CMAG if it itself was under consideration by the group. The Maldives had been suspended from the group when its issue was under deliberation, and invited back when the allegations against it had been rejected.

With elections looming in 2013, Nasheed is floundering in very deep waters as the Prosecutor General moves inexorably towards a human rights abuse conviction against Nasheed. For a country such as Maldives, international good will is important and Nasheed has lost it. His popular support waned dramatically when CoNI proved that Nasheed had lied about his resignation, with his family and close friends remaining in the MDP front ranks. Nasheed's anti-Islamic comments and his wild accusations on Islamic terrorists being harbored by Maldivians given to international media and his campaign to stop European tourists from visting the country have also lost him support amongst the general public. Hence, while Nasheed may be able to hold his post as MDP presidential candidate by using his family votes, it is unlikely that he will get enough votes in the first round of Presidential Elections 2013 to be a contender in the second round. Nasheed's sole hope now lies in a partnership with another flagging party, Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP), which has separated itself from the coalition led by President Waheed.

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