The Convenor of the All-Party talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, has announced that a series of “high level” discussions will be held between President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and the leaders of the largest political parties, to try and relieve growing political tension in the Maldives.
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 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”.
One MDP representative at the talks, former Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa, said other parties involved in the talks “were adamant from the beginning that under no circumstances would there be early elections. There was a lot of rhetoric and mockery against the MDP,” she said.
“The spirit of working together was not there. It manifested in their tone – mocking and sarcastic. They gave no seriousness to the discussion of any point,” she said.
In a statement today, Mujuthaba acknowledged that the 16 hours of talks at Bandos had resulted in “no breakthrough”.
“Having considered the whole process in depth, it became apparent that a fresh approach had to be made,” he said.
“With that in mind, I held a series of constructive meetings, separately, over the past month with the President and leaders of the largest political parties to discuss the prospects of continuing the political party talks.
“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 these meetings I have had detailed discussions on the possibility of facilitating a meeting of the President and leaders of these large political parties. All agree in principle to the need for high-level talks. I hope to secure the commitment of these parties to convene such a meeting at the highest level in the very near future.
“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 is due to release its findings at the end of August, following a one-month delay.
The MDP have been calling for early elections in 2012, a call backed by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and other international groups. However, President Waheed has insisted that July 2013 is the earliest date elections can be held.
Parties allied with the government, including the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) affiliated with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, have meanwhile promised that former President Nasheed will be arrested before the 2013 elections.
“We will make sure that the Maldivian state does this,” promised PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, late last month.
“We will not let him go; the leader who unlawfully ordered the police and military to kidnap a judge and detain him for 22 days will be brought to justice,” Naseer told local media.