COLOMBO - A Commonwealth-backed investigation in the Maldives on Thursday dismissed claims that a coup forced Mohamed Nasheed from the presidency in February and declared it was a legitimate transfer of power. The panel’s report concluded that Nasheed, who alleged he was ousted by a military and police coup, had resigned voluntarily - a judgment that was promptly rejected by his party.

The Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), consisting of four nationals named by political parties and a Singaporean judge nominated by the Commonwealth, found the change of president was “legal and constitutional”. “The resignation of President Nasheed was voluntary and of his own free will,” it said in a 62-page report. “It was not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation.” Nasheed has previously told his supporters that it would be legitimate to challenge the current government through “street action” if the report rejected his claims that he was overthrown in a coup after weeks of public protests. Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said it rejected the CoNI’s findings as a “total outrage” and would keep up demonstrations in the capital Male where activists have often clashed with police.