4th June 2012, Male’; The Foreign Ministry has warmly welcomed today’s finalisation of the new composition of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) following tripartite agreement between the Government, former President Nasheed and the Commonwealth. This, together with changes to its mandate, marks the completion of a process to strengthen the independence, impartiality and credibility of the Commission in-line with calls by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). Speaking after the announcement, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ms. Dunya Maumoon, said that the agreement is an important moment both for the national truth and reconciliation process and for the Maldives’ relationship with the Commonwealth.
“It is no secret that the Government and the CMAG have had divergent views on the issue of the CoNI” said the State Minister. “However, what is important is that we have been able to work together in a spirit of compromise to bridge our differences, to understand each other’s position, and to strengthen the credibility of the national commission of inquiry. The Government has always underlined the importance of the Inquiry and the importance of its findings being accepted by all sides. Today’s agreement paves the way for a process and outcome that will bring the country closer together, to learn from what has happened and to secure a better future”.
The CoNI was established in February 2012 by Presidential Decree to conduct an inquiry into, and report on, the facts and circumstances leading to the transfer of power on 7 February 2012. Following the concerns expressed by CMAG in its 16 April statement about the composition and the terms of reference of the CoNI, the Government held discussions with the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and his Special Envoy, Rt. Hon Sir Donald McKinnon.
The outcome of the talks, which occurred in parallel with talks between Sir Donald and former President Nasheed, were signed Undertakings by the two sides aimed at strengthening the workings and composition of the CoNI to make it a ‘genuinely independent, credible and impartial body’ as required by CMAG. The Undertakings agreed to expand the composition of the Commission to include a senior judge from Singapore to serve as an additional Co-Chair, alongside the existing Chair, Mr Ismail Shafeeu, and to appoint an additional member to be nominated by former President Nasheed. A deadline of 1 June was set for the former President to nominate a suitably independent and impartial individual (based on a set of criteria agreed with the Commonwealth).
A few hours before the deadline, President Nasheed nominated Mr. Ahmed Saaed, the former Principal of Ahmadiyya School in the Maldives and former Deputy Principal of the British College of Sri Lanka. Although Mr. Saaed did not comply with all the independence/impartiality criteria set for members of the CoNI, the Government has nonetheless accepted the nomination as a show of good faith, and as a sign of its determination that the CoNI must resume its important work as soon as possible and deliver its report.
Following this agreement, the Government will now issue a new Presidential Decree covering the changes to the composition and mandate of the strengthened Commission. The CoNI shall submit its full and final Report to the President of Maldives, the Speaker of the Peoples Majlis, the Attorney-General, and the Prosecutor-General by 31 July 2012. The Report will also be made available to former President Nasheed on read-only basis. The CoNI shall then publish and widely distribute a public Report, taking into consideration the interests of national security and witness protection.