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#Maldives Celebrates Liberation from Nasheed's Dictatorship: Feb 7th

#Maldives today celebrates one year after its Liberation Day, February 7th 2012. It was liberated on that day from the dictatorship of President Mohamed Nasheed who resigned amidst an Arab Spring of popular uprising against him. Nasheed's violations included overturning of the Constitution, violation of fundamental civic rights and usurping extraordinary powers over the Judiciary. Maldivians on social media and local media are today jubilant and expressing hope and dreams for a better future after one stable year of incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed's strong and unwavering leadership in which he has steadfastly defended national sovereignty and independence against foreign countries and foreign rich elite in support of resigned President Nasheed.

Nasheed's short presidency was marred by rampant corruption, nepotism, cronyism, sale of national assets to foreigners, graft, and wholesale violation of fundamental rights and liberties. Nasheed locked down the Supreme Court, engineered a mass resignation of his Cabinet to challenge the oversight role of the Parliament over the functioning of the Executive, ran his Executive for several months without a sworn in Cabinet, abrogated without recompense property and assets of local municipal bodies, and sold out key national assets to foreign multinationals in major graft and corrupt deals.

Nasheed further clamped down on media freedom by limiting press freedom, victimizing media station owners with threats of closure, court cases and loss of licenses. He politicized the police and military by dishing out promotions and incentives to officers who participated in his Presidential Witch hunt commission against former and current political leaders, sacked those military and police officers who would not violate their oaths in this manner, used the military against civilian protests, hunted arrested and victimized political opponents including opposition leaders and MPs.

His final downfall came after he denounced the supremacy of the Constitution, denounced the Judiciary as illegal and arbitrarily arrested the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court using military force. Judge Abdulla Mohamed was kept in solitary confinement at a military training camp for the 22 days of mass uprising that lead to Nasheed's resignation on February 7th, 2012.

Non-stop mass protests followed as civilians took to the streets to claim back their fundamental civic rights and fledgling new Constitution which upheld these rights. Nasheed retaliated with brute force using police and military might and thugs from his party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Wide use of tear gas, batons and police brutality was followed by mass arrests and hospitalizations. Key opposition leaders and MPs were arrested and hounded by the police, headed by Nasheed's appointee CP Ahmed Faseeh under the direction of the brutal Home Minister Hassan Afeef.

Key accounts of military and police in the past year document that, on that historic night February 7th 2012, Nasheed brought about his own demise by circumventing both military and police protocol in some deparate Master Plan to stay in power. Following what was reportedly a night of alcohol binging at a nearby resort, Nasheed insisted upon entering military headquarters and took over command by exerting his powers as Commander in Chief. In doing so, he circumvented both Defence Minister Tholhath Kaleyfaanu, Chief of Defence Forces Brig. Gen. Moosa Jaleel and other military commanders, to directly order Male' Area Commander Ibrahim Didi and juniors in direct operations against civilian protestors (pic).

Within the Police too, senior officers who protested against brutality against the public were arbitrarily ordered to resign by CP Faseeh who cited Nasheed's direct orders. Others were ordered to withdraw from their posts, leaving the coast clear for direct attacks on protestors by Nasheed's thugs. As Police SO protested against their illegal orders, CP Faseeh resigned leading the door wide open for Home Minister Afeef to directly transmit Nasheed's blind orders and counter orders to third tier police officers, throwing the police force too into disarray.

What resulted was a havoc created by President Nasheed himself as law and order fell apart following the example set by himself alone, amongst the citizenry and the security forces. Historic accounts from senior military and police officers involved and leading ministers of Nasheed Cabinet document that it was a combination of loss of control on Nasheed's part and resulting police disobedience in the face of unconstitutional orders were the final straws which broke Nasheed’s iron grip on the country after weeks on civic riots.
On Feb 7th, by mid-day, the capital Male' and islands were celebrating in jubilation as strongman Nasheed announced his voluntary resignation in front of mass media. Following Constitutional dictates to the letter, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was sworn in immediately as the 5th President of the Maldives (pic).

President Waheed’s first official statement as President was that the Constitution of the country is supreme, and that all powers of the state would be exercised in accordance with the Constitution. He then pledged the democratic separation of powers and the protection of the rights of the people. President Waheed noted the hardships suffered by the population in the past three years, and called for national unity to restore democracy and democratic processes.

By these very short key statements, President Waheed showed his people that he had grasped the root causes of the widespread civic opposition to Nasheed. He called for national unity. President Waheed later announced a national unity government with other political parties, which would work as a government for the people.

However, all was not to be rosy. Within 24 hours of his voluntary resignation, Nasheed was rampaging on the streets (pic), claiming a military coup against him, lead by President Dr. Waheed and former President Gayoom. Nasheed's argument is that his resignation letter was written in MNDF HeadQuarters while he was surrounded by 18 gun toting servicemen who had demanded his resignation. He contends that this letter has to be dismissed as illegal, as it was written at gunpoint under threat of personal harm and harm to his family.

However, history shows that the said resignationa letter was written by his own hand at the President's Office just prior to his public announcement of his resignation. Significantly Nasheed made no mention to his Cabinet, whom he met prior to his resignation and who stood at his side during his resignation speech to the country, of any coercion or threats although Cabinet colleagues questioned him specifically on this matter.

On February 8th, Nasheed and his ex-Ministers led street riots in Male' which vandalized private and public property. These were supported by arson, vandalism and attacks on police stations in island strongholds of Nasheed's party. In the countrywide terror campaign led by ex President Nasheed, up to now, 9 police stations, 3 Court Houses and 1 Council Office has been razed to the ground by MDP activists, accounting for over MRf 150 million in losses to public property (pic).

What followed was a true testament to President Dr. Waheed's integrity and nationalistic spirit. Days, nights and months of Nasheed's rampaging on the streets, strong arm tactics from neighbouring India and Commonwealth to force early elections, pressure from Nasheed's political buddies in UK and Canada, widespread anti-Maldives publicity in international media orchestrated by Nasheed's rich magnate friend Virgin Group head Richard Branson and CANVAS group head Popovich and other Western rich elite, did not deter President Waheed from following a straight path in investigating these claims.

Defendng Maldives' sovereignty and independence against what he termed at the UNGA "small justice for small states" (pic), President Dr. Waheed formed an international independent investigation under the guidance and participation of both the United Nations and the Commonwealth, the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI). After many delays due to Nasheed's wilful demands, changing his version of events and wild claims and obstructions, the CoNI was able to complete and report its investigation in August 2012.

The CoNI reported that Nasheed's resignation on February 7th this year was "voluntary and of his own free will". It determined that Nasheed's resignation was "not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation

The CoNI constituted of a 5 member panel which included a member of Nasheed's party and nominated by Nasheed himself, plus an international legal expert appointed in consultation with international partners. In addition, two Independent Advisers were sent from the Commonwealth and the United Nations to support the Commission. The function of the Advisers was to observe the conduct of the Commission and advise on the issues as may be required. The final report of the CoNI which was issued at end August was endorsed by the two international Advisors. The findings of the CoNI have been accepted and welcomed by all international partners, including India, the United States, the United Nations and the Commonwealth. This report very effectively defeated partisan stands by powerful individuals within CMAG and the UK Government, and the Canadian Foreign Secretary John Baird who tried their utmost to influence early elections in favor of their poster boy Nasheed.
Two other key findings of the CoNI were that the change of President in Maldives on February 7th 2012 was legal and constitutional; and that the events that occurred on Feruary 6th and 7th were, "in large measure, reactions to the actions of President Nasheed".
On Nasheed's claim that President Waheed's presidency is unconstitutional, the CoNI report states that, "With regard to the idea that there was a 'coup d'├ętat', nothing in the Maldives changed in constitutional terms – indeed, the Constitution was precisely followed as prescribed. Moreover, in terms of the democratic intent and legitimacy of the authority of the Presidency, as foreseen in the Constitution, President Waheed properly succeeded President Nasheed. This coheres with the electoral prescription insofar as President Nasheed and his then-Vice President were on the same ballot and so the electorate was fully informed of the persons and exact role of the candidates for whom they voted and who ultimately took the oaths of office to serve under the Constitution. Accordingly, there appears nothing contestable in constitutional terms under the generic notion of a 'coup d'├ętat' that is alleged to have occurred – quite to the contrary, in fact."

The CoNI report was corroborated by the independent investigation of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) commissioned by the independent Prosecutor General of the Maldives, to investigate Nasheed's arbitrary military arrest of Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. The HRCM report on the investigation of the Judge's arrest and subsequent solitary confinement at a military training camp for 22 days determined the said actions to be blatant violation of human rights committed under Nasheed's direct orders and supervision as Commander in Chief. It reported that Nasheed had bypassed military hierarchy and was physically present at military Headquarters in directing the military operations to arrest Judge Abdullah Mohamed and put him in solitary confinement. The reasons given by Nasheed at the time for the Judge's arrest were unspecified charges of interference with judicial process.

Sadly for the Maldivian public, the Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizzu's criminal case against Nasheed for these criminal acts has not proceeded beyond first stages as Nasheed and his international legal team use all their wiles to deter a court verdict prior to March 2013, the objective being to keep a foot in the door for Nasheed to contest in the upcoming Presidential elections this year.

These delays have spilled into the PG's case on the same incident against Nasheed's then Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, Chief of Defence Forces Brig Gen (Retd.) Moosa Jaleel and the two senior military personnel who were instrumental in implementing Nasheed's illegal order. Sadly for Maldives, one year on, it is still being denied justice.

Nasheed and his party MDP's riots and hate campaign did not stay in the streets alone. Maldivians witnessed yet another dark and shocking night as senior Islamic scholar and MP Dr. Afraasheem Ali was brutally slain in his home by MDP activists and associated thugs in early October 2012. Dr. Afraasheem's (pic) murder was orchstrated just as MDP faced divisive factions internally and Nasheed's party support declined dramatically.

Investigations traced money flow to the murderers originating from senior officials, the most senior of which were MDP Interim President and MP Reeko Moosa Maniku and Nasheed's former Transport Minister Adil Saleem. The exact cash transfer was handled by Nasheed's cousin by marriage and lead activist, Mariyam Naifa (pic).

Police have charged Reeko Moosa's body guard, a hired thug by the name of Humam for MP Afraasheem's murder. Police report investigations into the financing of the murder and its conception are still ongoing, and that they have multiple evidence on the key individuals involved.

Prior to Dr. Afraasheem's brutal murder an intense hate campaign had been run against him and other members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) led by Nasheed crony and appointee to JSC Aishath Velzinee (pic). This was another prong in Nasheed's attempt to intimidate and shackle the Judiciary which steadfastly refused to compromise its integrity and independence. A review of this hate campaign shows its links to Dr. Afraasheem's brutal slaying and raises grave danger for other political opponents of Nasheed.

These contemtiple and atrocios acts against all decency and justice are currently being supported by a Nasheed controlled parliamentary suncommittee on government accountability which has illegally taken upon itself to "investigate" the CoNI investigation and Nasheed's coup allegations. The committee is headed by Nasheed buyout MP Ali Waheed and has a majority of MDP members in it, including its Parliamentary Group leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. This Committee has publicly supported Nasheed's claims of a coup and publicly aired selected fragments of its hearings on testimony by Nasheed stooges in the military. However, these allegations have been proven untrue by the clear repeated testimony of Nasheed's Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu.

Although the Parliament's Legal Consul has given legal opinion that the Committee does not have any legal mandate for an investigation into Nasheed's allegations of a coup, Parliamentary Speaker Abdullah Shahid has refused to take action on the matter. He has also refused to take action on the illegal airing and release of audio's of Committee hearings at MDP public rallies, illegal release of reports, and even on large scale vandalism by MPs in the Parliament Assembly Hall.

These actions have fuelled speculation that Speaker Shahid and his party Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) are hand in hand with MDP, assisting it to drive Maldives towards an earlier election than constitutionally scheduled. Speaker Shahid last night alluded to media the possibility that the incumbent president's chair may soon be vacated, in which event he said that the Vice President would assume the Presidency. This is to possibly stave off informed talk around town that upon resumption of Parliament in March, DRP and MDP will join hands to remove President Waheed and his VP, leaving Shahid to rule for the next 60 days and oversee early elections.

The earlier the elections the better for Nasheed as he can maintain his eligibility to contest, and the same for the politically and financially embattled DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. DRP is currently rapidly losing ground heavily to former President Gayoom's Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), incumbent President Dr. Mohamed Waheed's Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP) and the religious party, Adhaalath Party (AP). PPM has overtaken DRP in membership within a short period, making PPM the second largest party in the country.

One year on from the liberation of Maldives from the dictatorship of Mohamed Nasheed, it is evident that incumbent President Waheed is in the strongest of positions to win the upcoming elections, albeit in a second round with coalition support.

Current unfolding political events and rhetoric by his political opponents bear testament to President Waheed's ascendancy. MDP and DRP are jockeying hand in hand to hasten the elections to within 60 days from opening of Parliament on March 1st, 2013, in order to maintain their eligibility and prevent President Waheed from gaining further ground. PPM has launched all out attacks on President Waheed's presidency and leadership, with its candidates for presidential primaries levelling heated public attacks on his integrity.

Even more crucial, all major parties represented in Parliament (where President Waheed's party GIP and Adhaalath are not represented) have teamed up to pass an atrocious Act on Political Parties which severely limits the constitutional right of freedom of political association. The act limits the registration of political parties to those parties which can garner 10,000 members raising the bar more than 3 fold from the current requirement of 3,000 members, thereby eliminating from the contest smaller parties like GIP, Adhaalath and several others. Fortunately for the general public, President Dr. Waheed has stood firm against even this attack on fundamental rights coming from within the Parliament itself. He has sent back the Bill without ratification, citing that it violates the constitutional freedom of right of political association by limiting it to arbitray bounds.

As Maldives today celebrates Liberation Day, an year after the historic day in which all Maldives rose to liberate itself, its Constitution and Judiciary from the shackles of a dictator, it is still beleagured by internal and international divisive forces that seek to force it towards an early elections and seek even more to influence these elections. President Waheed has fought a long and hard battle maintianing national unity and balancing the competing demands of political opponents who seek to replace him poste haste.

While Dr. Waheed has managed to put the economy back on track despite serious obstacles internally and from neighbouring countries such as India, recaptured national assets such the local international airport from Indian Multinational GMR's death grip, the independent legal arms of the Judiciary and the Prosecutor General are struggling to bring guilty rulers to justice, a fight that Nasheed's international legal team is winning presently.

Hence, though liberated from Nasheed's dictatorship and under the steady captaincy of a true national hero President Waheed, Maldives remains a country which is still being served "small justice" locally and internationally. However, the past year is testament that President Waheed has the backbone and integrity to uphold his commitment to his people, to uphold the Constitution and laws and to defend the national faith Islam, even in the upcoming trials as rival political opponents from all round collude and try to topple him like Julius Caesar on the Ides of March.

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