Opposition party rejects Maldives government’s offer for “exclusive meeting”

The principal Opposition party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), on Monday evening announced that it would not participate in the Tuesday’s “exclusive meeting” proposed by the government.

Mohamed Nasheed.

Earlier in the day, the government invited the MDP for “separate discussions” on Tuesday afternoon to explore “possible avenues” for “leniency” in the judgment of the Criminal Court on former President Mohamed Nasheed, the founder of the MDP. This was to “facilitate the participation” of the Opposition party in the all-party talks.

[In March last year, the Criminal Court found Mr. Nasheed "guilty of terrorism” and sentenced him to 13 years’ imprisonment. In January this year, Mr. Nasheed was allowed to go to the United Kingdom for medical treatment on a "temporary leave.”]

“The government has to create conducive climate for negotiations on political reforms. This means that the government should release political leaders, who have been arrested on ‘politically motivated charges,’” Ali Niyaz, deputy chairperson of the MDP, told THE HINDU over the phone from Male.

Besides, the MDP was now in an alliance with the Adhaalath Party, whose leader Imran Abdulla, had been sentenced to 12 year-long imprisonment. “Under such circumstances, there is no point in taking part in the talks,” he said.

On March 2 and 3, the talks took place in which representatives of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM); Maldives Development Alliance (MDA); Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) were present, according to Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, international spokesperson at the office of President.

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, another MDP leader, recalled that in June 2015, his party’s participation in the talks with the government was not fruitful. Now, international community should be there in the talks as a “referee.” Mr. Ghafoor called upon the international community to impress upon the Maldives government the need for implementing recommendations of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).