MDP cries foul over government refusal to honour deal

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called on President Abdulla Yameen to honour commitments made to release former president Mohamed Nasheed and other jailed politicians.

Instead of releasing Nasheed on Thursday as rumoured, the state decided to appeal his terrorism conviction. His 13-year jail term, however, has been commuted to house arrest.

Revealing details of the government’s demands for the first time, the MDP said President Yameen had requested opposition backing to amend the constitution to set new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency, and the impeachment of Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

The government also asked for legislative support for specific projects, later revealed to be a second constitutional amendment to allow foreigners to buy land in the Maldives.

The MDP said it had delivered on all counts by issuing a three-line whip on the first two demands, and a free whip on the controversial foreign freeholds amendment. The party said it had also complied with a moratorium on street protests.

The free whip on foreign freeholds has divided MDP supporters. The party said it had issued a free whip line because it believes in free ownership of land and property, but had reservations that the amendment could lead to foreign, non-commercial logistical installations or military bases being built in the Maldives.

In return, it had asked for freedom for political prisoners, including Nasheed, the dropping of charges against more than 1,000 political activists and reforms to the judiciary and independent institutions.

The government agreed and home minister Umar Naseer made a number of promises during the talks that began on July 1, the party said.

“The MDP believes the government of Maldives must follow through on its commitments before the Independence Day celebrations on July 26,” the party said.

Stressing that it had entered talks with the government in good faith, the MDP said it had hoped to see meaningful reform to the “hopelessly politicised and corrupt” judiciary and independent institutions. Further, the party also wished to usher in a parliamentary system of government for the Maldives.

Nasheed’s legal team on Friday called the Prosecutor General’s decision to appeal the terrorism conviction “a charade,” and said they will make a decision to participate after discussion with the opposition leader’s international legal team.

The lawyers said the appeal could affect ongoing talks between the opposition and the government over the release of jailed politicians.

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said in a tweet yesterday that he did not believe the actions of independent body of the state could “obstruct talks between the government and MDP.”

In a brief statement on Thursday, the PG office said the decision to appeal the conviction was made based on concerns raised over due process in the trial and Nasheed’s request for the PG to appeal the conviction as well as his contentions over procedural violations, insufficient time to mount a defence, and inability to appeal due to the criminal court’s failure to provide a full report and transcripts of the trial within a 10-day period for filing appeals.

Diplomatic pressure had been mounting on President Yameen to release Nasheed, but the international community has been silent since the MDP started negotiating with the government.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) opted to keep the Maldives off its agenda soon after talks began. President Yameen has now asked the parliament for its counsel on leaving the Commonwealth.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention is meanwhile expected to rule on Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October. In a response to the UN, the government insisted Nasheed must appeal the sentence.

There appears to be no progress on the release of the Adhaalath Party president or two former defence ministers.

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Majlis approves foreign freeholds in second amendment to constitution

The parliament has amended the constitution to authorise foreign ownership of land or freeholds in the Maldives with overwhelming support of 70 votes in favour, a day after the amendments were introduced to the People’s Majlis.

Ten MPs of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and nine MPs of the Jumhooree Party (JP) also voted in favour of the unprecedented changes. Some 14 MPs voted No.

MPs opposed to the move expressed concern over possible Chinese military expansion in the Maldives, and the lack of time to review the amendments. The bill was submitted on Monday, debated and sent to committee for review at an extraordinary sitting last night, and put to a vote today.

The opposition MPs’ backing was necessary as a three-quarters majority or 64 votes was required to amend the constitution. The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) controls 48 seats in the 85-member house.

Shortly before the vote was called, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, leader of the PPM and half-brother of President Abdulla Yameen, urged the president to seek public opinion before ratifying the amendments. This is the first time Gayoom has publicly opposed president Yameen’s actions.

The amendments will allow foreigners who invest more than US$1 billion to purchase land within the project site. At least 70 percent of the area when the project is completed must also be reclaimed land. The constitution previously prohibited foreign ownership of any part of Maldivian territory, but allowed leasing of land for up to 99 years.

New Cold War

Speaking during the final debate on the amendments today, MDP MP Eva Abdulla said that a Chinese Yuan class 335 submarine passed through Maldivian waters and docked at the Karachi port on May 22, adding that Indian media called it “China’s deadliest attack submarine.”

Maldivian foreign and domestic policies should be based on ensuring Indian Ocean regional security as “Maldives is not in the South China Sea,” she said.

The Maldives is “a front line state” in the new Cold War and should not be a catalyst for conflict, the MP for Galolhu North added.

The MDP as a “centre-right party” supports free market policies and the principle of private land ownership, but could not support “selling land for China to build military bases” in the Maldives.

Eva said the MDP could support foreign ownership of land in the Maldives under a more transparent government and independent judiciary.

PPM MP Ali Arif conceded that the Maldives as a small nation is always vulnerable to influence from powerful nations. He said the committee addressed the concerns over sovereignty during its review process and added a clause to the bill stating that the Maldivian state will exercise complete authority over the territory designated for projects.

He added that 80 or 90 percent of the Maldives’ 112 luxury resorts are operated by foreign businesses and multinational hotel chains have invested millions of dollars in the lucrative tourism industry.

Majority leader Ahmed Nihan, who had submitted the bill, meanwhile assured the public that the ruling party would not compromise Islam or Maldivian traditions and sovereignty. He stressed that the amendments only apply to newly reclaimed land and that the government was not planning to sell existing natural islands or reclaimed land.

No public debate

Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem said she had proposed amending the bill to allow lease of Maldivian territory for up to 150 years, but the parliament secretariat did not accept her amendment as it was submitted after 12pm.

Anara said a single day was too short a period to approve such changes to the constitution without consulting stakeholders or experts.

Gayoom raised the same issue in a letter sent to President Yameen and shared with the media by the former president’s office. He urged his brother to hold a public referendum on the issue, noting the amendments were proposed without public debate.

Gayoom also stated that previous governments did not sell any part of Maldivian territory to prevent foreign influence over the country’s independence, sovereignty, and resources.

MDP MP Ahmed ‘ADK’ Nashid also expressed concern with passing the amendments without a debate among the public or an assessment of the pros and cons of the proposed changes.

Despite the economic benefits of attracting foreign investors, Nashid warned that the amendments could pose dangers to Maldivian sovereignty with foreign powers encouraging secessionist movements in a situation similar to Crimea breaking away from the Ukraine.

MPs Eva, Nashid, and Anara were among those who cast dissenting votes along with MDP MPs Rozaina Adam, Mohamed Rasheed Hussain, Mohamed Falah, Mohamed Aslam, Mariya Ahmed Didi, Imthiyaz Fahmy, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, and Fayyaz Ismail.

JP MPs Ali Hussain, Abdulla Riyaz, and Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof also voted against the proposed changes.

MDP MPs Abdul Bari Abdulla, Abdul Ghafoor Moosa, Abdulla Shahid, Ahmed Marzooq, Ali Azim, Ali Nizar, Ibrahim Shareef, Ibrahim Naseer, Mohamed Nazim, and Mohamed Abdul Kareem voted in favour of the bill along with nine JP MPs and Independent MP Hussain Areef.

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Parliament impeaches Vice President Dr Jameel in absentia

The parliament has impeached Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel with overwhelming multi-party support today, less than two years after the current administration took office in November 2013.

Jameel was removed from office with 78 votes in favour and two against.

The impeachment process was initiated by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives-Maldives Development Alliance (PPM-MDA) coalition, which controls 48 seats in the 85-member house. A two-thirds majority or 57 votes of the 85-member house was required to remove the vice president.

MPs of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) also voted in favour of the motion. Independent MPs Ahmed Mahloof and Hussain Areef cast dissenting votes while Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem did not participate in the vote.

Jameel is currently in London and did not return to answer charges at the parliament. In a 40-minute verbal statement released online this morning, Jameel said he was sidelined four months after the presidential election and dismissed the charges in the impeachment motion.

The motion accused Jameel of incompetence, dereliction of duty, links with the opposition, failure to defend the government, and excessive expenditure from the state budget.

The main opposition MDP parliamentary group had issued a three-line whip last night to vote in favour of the impeachment motion.

Opposition MPs’ backing for a constitutional amendment passed last month to set an age limit of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice presidency was widely perceived as part of a deal in exchange for transferring imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed to house arrest.

During the debate on the impeachment motion, ruling PPM parliamentary group leader MP Ahmed Nihan said the vice president was in charge of the cabinet’s social council tasked with overseeing the health and education sectors, but had failed to show progress.

Pro-government MPs accused Jameel of disloyalty and plotting to depose the president while opposition MPs stressed that the ruling party was seeking to remove their own vice president.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla said the only reason for the opposition party to vote to save Jameel was the “dim hope” that he might create divisions within the government.

Jameel had obstructed the MDP’s efforts since its inception, she said, and had vowed not to hand over the presidency even if the party’s candidate won the 2013 presidential polls.

“I don’t see that an MDP member could vote to save Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed,” she said.

Several MPs meanwhile questioned the necessity of the vice president’s post and suggested amending the constitution to dissolve the post.

MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi observed that successive presidents have lost confidence in their deputies.

Former vice president Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik had perpetrated a “coup d’etat” with the opposition in February 2012 to assume the presidency, she said, while the current ruling party has also lost confidence in the incumbent vice president as well.

Due process

Jameel had appointed former attorney general Husnu Suood as his lawyer, but Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed informed the vice president yesterday that the lawyer could not respond to the charges on his behalf.

Maseeh said today that he had received a letter from Suood’s law firm shortly before the sitting began, but could not accept the written statement it contained as it did not bear Jameel’s signature.

Article 100(d) of the Constitution states that the vice president shall have the right to defend himself in the sittings of the People’s Majlis, both orally and in writing, and has the right to legal counsel.

JP MPs Ali Hussain and Faisal Naseem as well as some MDP MPs expressed concern with the parliament not granting Jameel the right to defend himself.

The pro-government majority in the parliament had amended the parliament’s standing orders so that an investigation by a select committee was not required before impeaching the vice president.

Ali Hussain said fast-tracking the impeachment process was against the letter and spirit of the constitution, adding that the historic impeachment vote would be remembered as a “dark day” in Maldivian history.

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PPM MPs slam Commonwealth ‘bullying’ as opposition MPs warn against isolation

Pro-government MPs have accused influential countries in the Commonwealth of “bullying” the Maldives and interfering in domestic affairs in a parliamentary debate on quitting the inter-governmental body. Opposition MPs warned that the current administration’s foreign policy would isolate the country.

President Abdulla Yameen had sought parliament’s counsel on the country’s membership of the Commonwealth following lobbying efforts for an assessment of Maldives’ alleged violations of the organisation’s principles with the imprisonment of opposition politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

In a letter to the speaker – read out at today’s sitting – the president noted that the cabinet had suggested a review of the Maldives’ role in the Commonwealth and requested the parliament’s advice on the issue.

In the ensuing debate, ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan said some Commonwealth members are trying to place restrictions on the Maldives and harm the country’s economy and tourism industry through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG).

The Maldives’ treatment in the Commonwealth was akin to “the weakest or quietest kid in the class being bullied by the biggest group or kid,” he said.

If the government decides to leave the Commonwealth, the PPM parliamentary group leader said he would fully back the decision.

PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed meanwhile called on MPs to propose immediately leaving the Commonwealth to the government.

The Commonwealth was demanding opposition leader Nasheed’s release from prison, Riyaz claimed, which was contrary to separation of powers and the constitution adopted in 2008 with the organisation’s assistance.

“[The Commonwealth] does not want Islam in the Maldives. They want to spread false religions here, they want to build temples here, they want to elect a leader here who can carry out their agenda,” he said.

The Maldives should not be “afraid” of the Commonwealth as unlike India and China the organisation has not provided significant aid to the country, he continued.

Earlier this month, foreign minister Dunya Maumoon said the Maldives “will seriously consider its membership at the Commonwealth” if it is placed on the agenda of the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm for a second time in four years.

The Maldives was placed on the CMAG’s agenda in 2012 “on an unfair basis, based on false allegations, and the country’s economy and democratic governance suffered significantly as a result,” Dunya said.

In mid-June, Canada had called on CMAG to “urgently put the deteriorating situation in the Maldives on its formal agenda,” prompting Dunya to accuse the Canadian government of hypocrisy. “Canada should address the cultural genocide it is alleged to have committed against native Canadians before trying to teach other nations about values of democratic principles and human rights,” she said.

Echoing Dunya’s criticism during today’s debate, ruling party MPs said the countries pushing for action against Maldives has committed serious crimes, such as “electoral fraud” and “cultural genocide.”

Others also called on the Commonwealth to apologise to the Maldives for taking action against in the wake of former President Nasheed’s controversial resignation in February 2012.

The Maldives was placed on the CMAG agenda from March 2012 to March 2013 after Nasheed resigned amidst a police and military mutiny. He later alleged he had been ousted in a coup d’état, but a Commonwealth-backed inquiry found the transfer of power to be constitutional.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mariya Ahmed Didi advised the government to accept criticism from international partners “instead of saying we’re an independent country and becoming isolated from the world.”

The Maldives is dependent on imports and tourists and could not survive with an isolationist stance in an inter-connected world, she said.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla said Maldivian teachers, students, doctors, and athletes have received numerous opportunities through the Commonwealth in addition to assistance from member states.

The Commonwealth offers a platform for the Maldives to have its voice heard in the international arena, she said.

The Maldives could not achieve development and progress in isolation from the rest of the world, she continued, and foreign policy should be shaped accordingly.

“Temporary benefits or quarrels” should not dictate foreign policy or bilateral relations, Eva said.

The debate will continue tomorrow.

The CMAG in a recent meeting in London decided not to review the Maldives.

The president is authorized to determine. conduct and oversee the Maldives’ foreign policy according to the constitution.

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Council ‘defied’ court order to change un-Islamic Eid banner

The island council of Gaaf Alif Villigili has been accused of refusing to comply with an order by a magistrate court to change the wording on an Eid celebration banners.

The banners put up on behalf of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Saud Hussain read, “MP Saud’s Eid Happiness.” The Maldives marked the religious holiday on Friday, July 17.

The president of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Villigili branch, Ameez Hassan, filed a case against the island at the island’s magistrate court on Thursday, which ordered the pro-government majority council to change the wordings on the banner.

Ameez told Minivan News today that he objected to the phrase “Saud’s Eid,” contending that the banner was un-Islamic.

“Children see these banners, read them and tell their parent’s that this Saud’s Eid. So I realized these banners are confusing children and contradicts our religion,” he said.

Ameez said he sued the council as the municipal authority’s permission was required to put up banners on the island.

MP Saud meanwhile told Minivan News that he has complied with the court’s ruling.

“The wordings have been changed according to the court’s ruling. This issue did not disrupt any of our festive Eid celebration activities,” he said.

However, PPM councillor Fathuhy Moosa that the banners now read, “MP Saud Eid happiness 2015, Gaaf Alif Vilingili.” The Villigili island council consists of one MDP councillor and six PPM councillors.

Ameez meanwhile said more banners have been put up since the court’s ruling, including one in front of the court. The wordings on the same banner near the island’s performance stage have also been enlarged, he said.

Ameez accused the council of disrespecting the judiciary by “clearly disobeying” an order from the court.

“I plan to take this matter to court as soon as offices open,” he said.

Photo from MP Saud.

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Maldives celebrates historic penal code

A new penal code came into effect today, repealing a law written in 1968. Government offices, the opposition and influential figures have welcomed the law as a momentous change that will usher in major reforms to the Maldives’ criminal justice system.

The landmark law is hailed as one that is compatible with both the Islamic Shari’ah and international human rights standards. The penal code comes into effect nearly ten years after it was first drafted and despite recent efforts by the judiciary to overhaul it.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil today said the new law would bring the Maldives criminal justice system on to equal footing with that of other developed nations. Thanking all stakeholders involved in its enactment, Anil said the penal code is the most well-researched law to come into effect in the Maldives.

Law enforcement officers and public prosecutors have now been trained in its application with the help of a legal resource center set up by the UNDP, he said.

“The Attorney General asks all government institutions and the Prosecutor General to complete all the tasks in order to fully comply with the new penal code,” he said in a statement today.

Anil also called on Majlis to expedite the criminal procedures bill and stressed the need for laws on evidence and legal aid to complete reforms to the criminal justice system.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said: “We believe the enforcement of the new penal code is a progressive step for a better criminal justice system. It brings to an end to the injustice wrought by the old law.”

Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon said: “I am extremely proud that with this significant move, the Maldives becomes the first Islamic country to bring into place a penal system that is in line with the principles enshrined in both Islamic Shariah and the common law.”

Ahmed Faiz, the former chief said: “Never will a more significant change happen to the Maldivian criminal justice system. “

The PG office and the police have said that they are fully prepared to implement the new penal code.

“The PG office was actively involved in training of lawyers, the police and other institutions for the penal code. We are well prepared,” a spokesperson said.

According to the police, some 3100 officers have been informed on the provisions in the law.

Amidst all the celebration, former Attorney General Husnu Suood was more cautious. “The people will benefit from the penal code provided that judges are god fearing, selfless, loyal and uphold the most sincere ethics,” he said.

The first draft of the penal code was prepared in 2006 at the request of then-Attorney General Hassan Saeed by Professor Paul H. Robinson, a legal expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

However, the legislation was stalled at the 16th People’s Majlis. It was resubmitted to the 17th Majlis in late 2009 where it remained with a committee until December 2013. In the first vote, the bill was rejected 36-34 and sent back to a committee.

It was finally passed in April last year, but its enforcement was delayed by a year to provide state institutions time to prepare. Ruling party MPs this year delayed the penal code’s enforcement by a further three months, claiming more time was needed to raise public awareness.

The decision was made against the wishes of the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General.

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On social media, an outpouring of support for ex university vice chancellor

The resignation of Dr Hassan Hameed, the vice chancellor of the Maldives National University, has elicited an outpouring of support on social media and a campaign requesting President Abdulla Yameen to re-appoint him to the university board.

Hameed resigned on Thursday in the wake of amendments to the national university law that authorizes the president to appoint nine members to the 13-member governing council, including the chancellor and the vice chancellor.

The president could previously only appoint the chancellor who also heads the governing council.

Hameed had served at the university and the former Maldives College of Higher Education since 1998. He was elected for the position of vice chancellor in 2011.

In a letter to all the staff at the MNU on Saturday, Hameed said he had submitted his resignation on Thursday and asked them to support new appointments to the board. “17 years is a long time in one’s life. If I’ve offended any of you, I wish for your generous forgiveness,” he said.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has warned that the changes will compromise the MNU’s independence and politicize the institution.

Officials will be hired and dismissed for political reasons if the institution is politicized, the MDP said, and pave the way for the “misuse of the university’s students, employees, and resources to achieve political purposes.”

On Saturday, a supporter started a Facebook Page calling on President Yameen to reinstate Dr Hameed. The “Dr. Hassan for MNU” has gained 1,641 supporters in one day.

“When the university bills were passed by the parliament, I was concerned that Dr. Hassan may not be the choice of the president of at least, that is the rumor I’ve heard. I thought it might not be in the best interest of the nation to be deprived of his service. He is one of the few individuals who have a vision for the advancement of this country in the field of science and engineering in particular, not to mention his passion for the university’s development,” said Ahmed Hussein, who had started the page.

“I would like to respectfully request the president and anyone who is involved in making this decision to seriously consider Dr. Hassan’s invaluable service to the nation and to let him continue to serve the people. There is no replacement for him,” he added.

Hameed was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

He did not state the reasons for his resignation, but many supporters on social media suggested Hameed was forced to resign. Some pro-government supporters, meanwhile, accused him of treating the university “like his home.”

One supporter said: “Another sad day for democracy since the vice chancellor of the nations only university who was democratically elected to the post had to leave because of government sponsored changes to remove autonomy.”

Students and teachers at the university described Hameed as visionary and humble.

Aishath Ali, the registrar at MNU, said Hameed was the first to come into the office and the last to leave. “The people who are closest to him are the security guards, the laborers, those who cannot do anything for him. Despite his great knowledge and high position, he is very humble and down to earth.”

Many supporters said Hameed had turned down ministerial jobs to stay at the MNU. One commenter said he had introduced undergraduate degrees and later postgraduate when “so many people told him this was not possible in a small country like the Maldives.”

Another former employee said: “He supported everyone and had a smile on his face. I like his way of critically thinking on every aspect of what may happen. Learnt a lot from Dr. Hassan Hameed.”

The former minister of Islamic affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari and the minister of youth and sports, Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, said Hameed’s resignation was a loss to the nation.

A former student, Jaleel Ahmed said: “He brought changes to teaching style in Majeedhiyya [a high school in Malé], during the 80s and 90s when he was teaching physics. As a result, many students were able to think on their own, which has resulted in great academic achievements.”

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Police disrupt MDP feast

The police stopped and cleared out a gathering by supporters of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) outside its main office in Malé last night.

The MDP had set up tables with food for a communal tharavees feast, a traditional gathering during Ramadan.

A police media official told Minivan News that the police moved to clear the area around 10:30pm because the party did not seek permission from the housing ministry to close the road.

But the MDP said in a statement today that the police were notified ahead of the gathering and that traffic was not blocked as tables were set up near the pavement on Sosun Magu.

“But a disproportionately high number of police officers suddenly went into the tharavees function, threw away the food and drinks on the table to the street, took away the tables, and pepper sprayed the people there,” the party said.

The police media official said the use of force was prompted by “disobedience to order.”

The MDP meanwhile condemned the police’s “unlawful actions” and called on oversight bodies to investigate the incident.

The police had not stopped a gathering held at the same area by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) during Ramdan, the party said, “which shows the extent of the police’s illegal discrimination.”

The ruling party had set up chairs and tables in the middle of the road, the MDP noted.

The party believes “police are discriminating and carrying out unlawful actions so openly because of the weakness and toothlessness of the Maldives’ independent institutions or because of the extent of the institutions’ participation in the illegal activities,” the statement added.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News that the police’s justification for disrupting the festive feast is “complete nonsense”.

He noted that the road was closed for the PPM gathering in the same area earlier this month.

“As usual we had informed the police about the gathering. We keep seeing that rules only apply to us,” he said.

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Third meeting of talks rescheduled for Sunday

The president’s office has rescheduled a third meeting in ongoing talks with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for Sunday, July 12.

A meeting was set for Wednesday night, but cancelled at the last minute as some government representatives are out of the country.

The government is due to propose mechanisms to release jailed opposition politicians and withdraw charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters. The long-awaited talks has raised hope of an end to a six-month long crisis triggered by the arrest and imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

The opposition leader was transferred to house arrest in late June.

President Abdulla Yameen had proposed three teams of ministers to sit separately with the three allied opposition parties. The Jumhooree Party and the government held two meetings in June, but there had been no progress with the MDP or the Adhaalath Party as the government vetoed some of the proposed representatives.

The MDP had proposed Nasheed and Adhaalath had proposed Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who is in police custody awaiting trial on a terrorism charge.

With Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest, the MDP agreed to begin talks without the opposition leader. Talks are yet to begin with the Adhaalath.

At a second meeting on Sunday, the government conceded to an MDP demand to commence all-party talks at a later stage when constitutional and legal reform are on the table.

The MDP and the government are currently discussing the opposition’s six demands for political reconciliation. In addition to freeing jailed politicians and withdrawing charges against supporters, the party has also called for an independent inquiry into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan and the brutal murder of MP Afrasheem Ali.

The MDP has also proposed that talks conclude within a two-week period.

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