Waheed says Nasheed planned a public massacre on 6/2

by Azra Naseem

“Nasheed was planning a massacre on the night of 6 February so that he can resort to emergency powers”, the President’s Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza has said.
I know I’ve already talked about Abbas Adil Riza and his habit of denigrating Nasheed and routinely describing him as ‘a terrorist’ on social media platforms. But, what he’s telling people now, as the President’s Spokesperson, makes Abbas Riza’s words worth pondering over again.

First of all, as the President’s Spokesperson, he’s speaking for the President. We are all agreed on that, aren’t we? He explains to the general public, through the media, ‘the official position of the administration on current events or political issues.’ In the absence of Abbas’s Job Description, have a look at what the White House spokesperson does. [Why not? We know the Maniks are tremendously enamoured with the Obamas, don’t we?]

Anyway, given the role that a President’s Spokesperson is expected to play, when Abbas Riza opens his mouth in public it can rightly be assumed that he’s talking for Waheed. When Abbas Riza tells a public gathering that Nasheed was planning a massacre, we can–and we should–understand it as the official view of the President.

This raises a very important question about Waheed and what he thinks of CoNI, the institution that he himself set up to find out what really happened on 6-7 February. Does he believe in it at all, or does he think so little of it that he is willing to put forward his own views–laying the blame solely at Nasheed’s door–to the public when CoNI is just beginning its work in earnest?

Looks to me like Waheed set up CoNI because Commonwealth left him no option, but that’s all it is to him. A way to save face with the international community. Now that he has set the facade up, he feels free to tell the public that ‘it was him, Nasheed. He did it.’

We know from private emails exchanged between Waheed and Nasheed’s Energy Advisor Mike Mason that emerged in the local media this week that Waheed personally thinks Nasheed was ‘on something’ when he resigned.

Now we know he has also concluded that Nasheed intended to murder a large number of people that day. At least that is what he wants people to think. Abbas Adil Riza, Waheed’s spokesperson is quite openly describing the actions of the police and MNDF officers who directly disobeyed their Commander in Chief that night as patriots.

Nasheed was unable to successfully carry out his plan for a public massacre only

because a large number of people in the police and military who love the country objected to it and stopped the armed MDP supporters of MDP.

Here is how he explained the rationale behind the so-called ‘Massacre Plan.’

They had a very cunning plan behind the massacre. That plan was to declare emergence in the Maldives, abolish the courts, abolish the People’s Majlis, and make the Constitution obsolete. What bigger coup is there than this?

Abbas was speaking at a campaign event Friday night on the island of K. Dhiffushi for Jumhooree Party Gasim Ibrahim’s presidential candidacy. According to local newspaper Haveeru [in Dhivehi], it was a crowded event where people from islands in the vicinity of Male’ had been brought over in boatloads for the occasion.

Quite apart from the disrespect shown to CoNI by peddling premature conclusions, what is being deliberately conveyed to the public is disinformation. The person disseminating it knows full well that it contradicts facts contained in both investigations into the coup published so far. The Timeline by CoNI itself states twice that Nasheed refused to use guns throughout the crisis, stating categorically that ‘no guns should be used under any circumstances.’ Why feed the public such lies?

If Waheed doesn’t share his spokesperson’s view, he should either muzzle him or fire him. If Abbas Riza continues to make statements that construct all protesters as thugs with Nasheed as the lead ‘terrorist’, and if he continues to provide disinformation to the public regarding the events of 6-7 February while the CoNI investigation is still going on, I think what Abbas Riza says should be taken down and considered as evidence in the ongoing CoNI investigations.

If Waheed’s role in the coup is to be investigated properly, it matters what his official mouthpiece is saying. And Abbas Riza is saying a lot that explains a lot.

    6 comments

    1. badr

      Nice piece of writing. However it is misinformation that you are spreading too. Just because Abbas Adil Riza says something as a member of a political party at a gathering of that political party does not make it an official statement of the President’s Spokesperson. If on the other hand he had conveyed this at a press briefing held by the President’s Office and in his official capacity as the President’s Spokesperson, the matter would have been entirely different. He has every right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly just as any other Maldivian. Therefore we should not attribute his statements to President Waheed. It is also important to tell you that I do not support the coup, but I also do not see any point in twisting something just to make it fit my narrative. At the end of the day what is believable is something that is credible and impartial.

      • DhivehiSitee

        Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, but when a person enters into a contract of employment with another, they voluntarily sign some of those rights away. When Abbas Riza accepted the job as the President’s Spokesperson, he would/should have agreed not to express views in public that conflicts with the official stance the President/government has taken on an issue. This applies to everything he says in public. Do you really not see a conflict of interest in the President’s spokesperson offering conclusions to an ongoing national investigation instigated by the President?

        • badr

          With all due respect @ DhivehiSitee, I can see a conflict of interest here..and you are also right to highlight the point that Abbas Riza made remarks about an ongoing national investigation. But it is personal remarks at best, it cannot be conclusions made in his official capacity as the President’s Spokesperson. If we are going to hold a person accountable then it must be up to the minimum standards, if not all this rhetoric about accountability ends up being mere aspirations but not a practical reality. Demanding anything more than that minimum standard is utopian. When he signed on to the job he did not waive his rights to express his personal opinion as a citizen of the Maldives. Hence I do not think he has acted in contravention of his official duties in this matter.
          As to the issue of conflict of interest, I think we would see that anywhere we look around in Maldives. Because our society is small and everything is controlled by a handful of people conflict of interest is rather the norm than the exception – the best example – MPs representing clients in court!
          Nonetheless I respect your personal opinion on the issue. Respect 🙂

          • DhivehiSitee

            The whole point is that a handful of people controlling everything shouldn’t be the norm. And frankly, the whole ‘we are a small island nation, so excuse us our inability to put our democracy in order’ argument doesn’t cut it anymore. With a government so top-heavy with technocrats, it should know better. Abbas Adil Riza is the President’s Spokesperson, he should not be saying anything in public that compromises the president’s official position on an issue of national importance. Are you saying that it will be all right for the White House Spokesperson, for example, to express his personal view at a public function that he believes the United States should endorse the Palestinian bid for statehood? Do you think it would be all right if he said it in private, but the statement was later made public? I wouldn’t think so. This is the equivalent of Abbas Adil Riza, the president’s spokesperson telling the public ‘Nasheed wanted a public massacre on 6 February’ while an investigation into the events are ongoing. This is a matter of national importance like no other, and the president’s spokesperson should keep his personal opinions on the matter to himself until investigations are concluded. Why are you trying to justify such behaviour? I think the issue is also one of ethics, and what political side we are on shouldn’t matter when faced with a problem like Abbas Adil Riza.

            • badr

              I am not trying to justify his behavior or anyone else’s for that matter. You are right to point out that when faced with issues of ethics it should not matter which side of the political spectrum we come from. And this should be the standard for everyone, all political parties! But the fact is that most people just tend to forget that when they come to power. Without dragging this on any further, my point is that Abbas made comments in a private function which was at their political party gathering and in his individual capacity. It is clear to everyone whether we accept it or not just how baseless his comments have been. So we should leave it at that without exacerbating it to attribute the statements to Waheed, I think we should all have that much of maturity, regardless of the opportunities to politicize the incident any further. If you are talking about ethics…..there were a lot of ethical issues involved with the MDP government too, some of which are legitimate concerns that were just ignored for political expediency. I am not going to talk about the Gayoom era or the present one because the list is too long and this is not the appropriate place or time for that.
              Great example from the United States…but I do not think I should worry about that because they are already demonstrating just how democratic and respectful of human rights they are! Surely if a White House Spokesperson expressed support for the Palestinian statehood bid privately, I would imagine that they would get into some trouble, but if it was the other way around their private opinion would be respected. So why not avoid the double standard?!

    2. Nihan

      The point to writing an article; is to express an opinion, if not, there is no point to it. As much as I believe Mr.Abbas Adil Riza is not a mindless idiot; I am quite frankly disappointed to hear these statements made by him.
      Any spokesperson, politician or public speaker for that matter, must be held accountable for whatever he/she is telling the general public. It is a position of authority; representing an opinion of a specific group/people/party/government etc. There is no on/off switch there (although that seems to be a cool idea)
      I truly hope that there will come a day in Maldivian politics, where people will NOT be able to easily criticize how illogical/humorous/blatantly biased so-called speeches by various political factions can be made out to be with a simple analysis of what makes sense & what quite obviously does not!

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