by Azra Naseem
Relations between Presidents and their Vice Presidents can be difficult.
Judging from what Waheed has said about Nasheed since taking over the latter’s job, and from what Waheed’s Political Advisor Dr Hassan Saeed said about Waheed’s time as VP, I imagine exchanges between the duo going something like this:
We may never know the ins and outs of the Waheed-Nasheed relationship. What we can infer, from the evidence before us, is that Waheed’s feelings about Nasheed were deep enough for him to collude with a group of power-hungry men and women conspiring to bring about the downfall of a democratically elected government, of which he was a part.
Waheed’s role is clear from the evidence available in the CoNI Timeline, itself an attempt to whitewash the coup and depict it as a natural occurrence, a toppling of an unlawful and un-Islamic leader by the people and brave members of the security forces who had lost confidence in him.
If the CoNI Timeline does not make it clear enough, then MP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s Indictment against Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’ certainly does. Mariya’s indictment was released in response to the CoNI Timeline as a ‘Solicitation Petitioned to the Prosecutor General’. Mariya wants Waheed to be charged, under Section 33 (with reference to Section 30) of the Penal Code, with the offence of carrying out a rebellion and with conspiring to unlawfully use weapons to remove the president from office and the overthrow of government.
Here is the full-text of the Indictment. For those who want less legalese, here’s my gist of it:
- The President is elected. The Vice President is not. He is declared by the President to serve ‘along with him’. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the Vice President is an elected position.
- It has been repeatedly said by Waheed and the 23 December Coalition that when Waheed met with the Coalition on the night of 30 January 2012, he promised them he was willing to carry out his ‘constitutional responsibilities’. By this the Coalition and Waheed mean Article 117 (b) and 112(d) dealing with the Vice President succeeding to the office of the President were the President unable to perform his responsibilities.
- But, according to the Constitution, for as long as Waheed was Vice President, his ‘constitutional responsibility’ was to ‘exercise such responsibilities and powers of the President as are delegated to him by the President’. So, what was the point of him assuring the motley crew that is the 23 December Coalition that he was ‘ready to carry out his constitutional responsibilities’?
- When members of the cabinet asked him the next day to disclose details of his meeting with the Coalition, he refused. ‘It was a personal matter’, he said. Personal? A midnight meeting with representatives of eight political parties that had announced their intention of having President Nasheed removed from office? Hardly. It was a failure to exercise his Constitutional responsibilities—to exercise responsibilities and powers of the President as are delegated to him by the President.
- Waheed was aware of the chaos that was unfolding in Male’ on the night of 6 February. The violence against MDP members and the destruction to its property at the party’s main Meeting Hall in Male’ by police officers was widely covered live on private [Coalition owned] television channels.
- Police officers were also openly calling for the President’s resignation at the Republic Square, in violation of the Police Act. But, instead of calling upon the police to act within their legal authority, or contacting Nasheed and fellow cabinet members who were being openly attacked, Waheed went live on TV to encourage the mutinying police: ‘I support the peaceful activities of the many to protect the country’s constitution and faith.’
- How come Waheed had the time to go on television to appeal for calm and not the time to contact his boss or his colleagues to discuss the unfolding unrest? How come he never contacted the President throughout the night, although he was fully aware of, and engaging with, unfolding events?
- So Waheed neglected his constitutional responsibility to carry out duties delegated to him by the President so that he could fulfil his other constitutional responsibility to takeover the President’s job if the President couldn’t do it for any reason?
- So eager was he to fulfil responsibility No.2 [at the expense of Responsibility No.1] that when a civilian commandeered the armed forces and announced live on television that he had got the president to agree to ‘resign without condition’, Waheed still didn’t think it was necessary to ring his boss and ask him what the hell was going on.
- Mutinying police and army officers fired a riot gun to force open the gates of MNBC One. Shortly afterwards, Waheed’s brother took control of the station, changed its name to TVM (name of the station in Gayoom’s time) and it’s broadcast was changed to a live feed from VTV (Coalition owned station). Why?
- If Waheed didn’t have anything to do with it, what was his brother doing, taking over the reigns of the state broadcaster? Upon entering MNBC 1, Brother Waheed said he was acting on orders of Vice President Waheed. What business did VP Waheed have handing over MNBC One to anyone? Since assuming office, no action has been taken against the violent takeover of the station. What does that say about Waheed?
- Mohamed Nazim, Abdulla Riyaz and Mohamed Fayaz, the three civilians who commandeered the armed forces and made the President write his resignation letter are now respectively Waheed’s Defence Minister, his Commissioner of Police, and his Minister of State for Home Affairs. If Waheed did not collude with the conspirators, would not the first thing that he would have done as President be the investigation—and not the promotion—of these three men’s role in the events of 7 February?
- Once in office, Waheed changed the sitting government and established what is called a ‘unity government’. Essentially a new name for the 23 December Coalition that conspired and colluded to engineer and encourage the events of 7 February. If he were fulfilling his Constitutional duties, he would have continued with the MDP government. Waheed has lied about this to the international community, telling India that what he is doing is essentially a ‘continuation of Nasheed’s government’.
To me Mariya’s points seem valid, and there’s plenty of evidence to make a watertight case against Waheed in a court of law. But is anyone willing to do anything? The PG will not. Nor would ‘the judges’ that she appealed to.
It’s telling that with all the well-heeled [or high-heeled, in Maldivian parlance] lawyers about, it fell to an MDP lawyer to make such a solicitation. As if it is only MDP’s problem that there has been an illegal overthrow of government, and sitting on the chair of the President could well be the lynchpin without which the coup d’état would not have been possible.
It is action to defend the right and uphold the law, and not exchanges like the following staged on open forums [between Police Commissioner and the most high-heeled of high-heeled lawyers, Mohamed Nasheed], that convince the public that rule of law is being protected.
@riyazabdulla only to the extent you are mindful that each of us ought to be tried in a court of law, and not in a court of public opinion.— Mohamed Nasheed (@mnasheed) June 22, 2012