Commonwealth and UN visit Maldives to probe allegation of a coup


A supporter of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed holds a sign during a protest in Male on Feb. 12 2012.


Ishara S Kodikara

The United Nations has said that the events leading to last week's change of government in the Maldives should be investigated, but added that the process must be initiated by local authorities.

An UN mission led by the assistant secretary-general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco arrived in the Indian Ocean islands shortly after a spate of political unrest that saw the former president, Mohamed Nasheed,resign on Feb. 7 and be replaced by the vice president, Mohamed Waheed. Nasheed has since claimed he was forced out in a coup and his supporters refuse to recognise Waheed and the new government.

On Monday, Fernandez-Taranco wrapped up his visit with a press conference in the capital Male, and urged the islands' new leaders to follow through on promises to probe the protests leading to Nasheed's resignation, the Press Trust of India reports.

"We believe that it is important that events and circumstances leading to the event should be investigated, it should be an important part of a national reconciliation process.  It is extremely important that uncertainties that have surrounded these events shall be clarified," Fernandez-Taranco is quoted as saying.

Fernandez-Taranco also said that the UN would not undertake an investigation because the move would require mandate either from either the General Assembly, the Security Council or the Human Rights Council.

Nasheed has repeatedly denied the claims of a coup and says he has invited Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party to join his Cabinet.

Reuters reports that a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group sent by the Commonwealth is due to arrive in the Maldives shortly.  The mission will include three foreign ministers who will spend two days investigating the circumstances surrounding last week's change of power.

Waheed's new government said on Monday that it welcomed the Commonwealth mission, the news agency says.  A seperate Press Trust of India report says that the Maldivian Democratic Party was gathering evidence, including photos and video, to show the Commonwealth delegates that a coup took place.

Meanwhile, Associated Press says that Nasheed held another demonstration on Monday, during which he called for civil disobedience from his supporters if Waheed refuses to call an early election.

The Maldives’ next presidential election is scheduled for next year.