President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan will not participate in the All-Party talks while the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) continues to back on going street protests in the capital, the President’s Office has said.
The talks were conceived as one of two internationally-backed mechanisms – alongside the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) – to resolve the political deadlock in the Maldives following the controversial transfer of power on February 7. The Convenor of the All-Party talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, on July 12 announced that a series of “high-level” discussions will be held between President Waheed and the leaders of the largest political parties after sixteen previous attempts had resulted in “no breakthrough.”
However, President Waheed’s Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza condemned MDP’s ongoing street protests as an “act of terrorism” today, and said “political leaders do not wish to hold talks with the MDP holding a gun to their heads.”
In response, MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said “Dr Waheed’s participation in the All-Party talks is not important to the MDP.”
“Waheed’s political party does not have the required number of members to qualify as a political party. Further, his party does not have a single seat in the parliament or in the local councils. Therefore he is not significant to the All-party talks,” Fahmy said.
The opposition party has vowed that the protests, which started on July 8, will continue until an early election date is announced, Fahmy said. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and other international groups have also backed calls to have electons before the end of 2012. However, President Waheed has insisted that July 2013 is the earliest date elections can be held under the constitution.
Meanwhile, Nasheed yesterday offered to apologise to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for accusing him of masterminding the change of government, were the leader of 30 years to agree to participate in the the All Party Talks.
Gayoom had accused Nasheed of continuously making baseless comments about him in both the local and the international community, particularly that the former President had masterminded a coup d’état on February 7. “I do not wish to sit down and negotiate with such a person,” Gayoom said.
Nasheed has also pledged to engage in the All-Party talks despite the Prosecutor General filing criminal charges against him for his alleged role in detaining Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January.
“Even if they imprison me, I am willing to take part in the talks even while in prison,” he said in a speech on Sunday night.
The last round of the UN-mediated talks, held at Vice President Waheed Deen’s Bandos Island Resort and Spa in early June, collapsed after parties aligned with the government presented the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with a list of 30 demands.
The list included calls that the MDP “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.
Also demanded during the talks were that the MDP “not keep crows and other animals in public areas”, “not participate in protests in an intoxicated condition“, and “not defame the country both domestically and internationally”.
In a statement on July 12, Mujuthaba acknowledged that the 16 hours of talks at Bandos had resulted in “no breakthrough” and required a “fresh approach.”
Mujuthaba subsequently met separately with President Waheed and leaders of the country’s largest political parties to discuss the prospect of continuing the talks. Political leaders had agreed in principle to the need for high-level talks, Mujuthaba said.
“They have expressed a strong and shared belief in dialogue as the best way to address the challenges facing our nation. They agree that there are deep-rooted divisions and problems that must be resolved jointly if the Maldives is to continue on its democratic path,” Mujuthaba stated.
“In the end, the most senior political leaders will need to create an atmosphere conducive to discussions, and come together prepared to work in good faith,” he concluded.
No date has yet been set for the next round of talks. However the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), set up to investigate the transfer of power, is due to release its findings at the end of August, following a one-month delay.
In an official statement on Sunday, Nasheed offered an apology to Gayoom and invited the former president to participate in the All-Party talks. Nasheed argued his allegations that Gayoom had masterminded the coup were based on public statements made by Gayoom and those closely affiliated with him politically, including his family members – many of whom now hold senior positions in government.
A few days before Nasheed was deposed, “President Gayoom stated that it was time to bring an end to the government entrusted upon me in my capacity as President of Maldives, and that the instigation of the enterprise was already overdue,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer had on many occasions stated that he had personally staged and directed the coup from “the command centre”.
“Naseer also met with my Vice President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik (now President) prior to the coup, along with all parties affiliated with the 23rd December coalition, and implored Dr Waheed to take over the post of the President of the Republic on the sole condition that having usurped the presidency, he would refuse to resign from his post,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed also highlighted that statements from MPs now aligned with the government, including PPM MP Ilham Ahmed and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed, had expressed gratitude to Gayoom and his family following the toppling of Nasheed’s government. Further, Gayoom’s daughter and family members, being “part and parcel to the current coup government”, had “attained high offices within it,” the statement noted.
Gayoom had never denied that he had committed these actions on behalf of the political party to which he belonged, nor had he condemned any of the “aforementioned actions”.
“Nevertheless, in a predicament such as we are, and whilst the people of Maldives are overtly distressed by what has transpired after the coup, I have come to know that President Gayoom has said that he would sit with me for dialogue in the event I apologise for stating that it was he who instigated this coup,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed said he “firmly believed” that the powers of the Maldivian state were vested with the Maldivian people and should remain as such.
“Given that not for a single moment would I wish for someone unelected by the people of Maldives to entertain himself as leader to them, I believe now is the time for all parties to come forth in support of the best interest of the nation and its citizens, and as such, if President Gayoom indeed was not party to the coup, I have decided to apologise to President Gayyoom for the fact that I said he was behind this coup,” Nasheed concluded.
Nasheed also thanked facilitator of All Party Talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, for “all the efforts” exerted by him to ensure that the negotiations succeeded.