Crisis in Maldives: Can talks succeed?

After months of daily protests and hundreds of arrests, the Maldivian government has called for separate talks with the allied opposition parties. But Maldivians are skeptical of a solution with the government unwilling to discuss the triggers for political unrest – the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) insists Nasheed must represent it at the talks, but President Abdulla Yameen has rejected the former-president’s nomination on the grounds he is serving a 13-year jail-term on a terrorism conviction.

The president’s agenda consist of political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary, and political party participation in economic and social development.

Ahmed Faraz, a 21-year-old law student at the Maldives National University, said he has no hope: “The president is unwilling to compromise at all. He has already decided the agenda and rejected the MDP’s main demand, which is to release Nasheed. So I don’t see a solution unless one party decides to give in.”

The belief the government wants to keep Nasheed in jail at all cost is widespread.

Aishath Sana, a mother of two, said: “One thing is clear to me. Yameen wants Nasheed to remain in jail and the MDP doesn’t want that. If the government sincerely wants a fruitful end to the discussions they would have at least agreed to discuss Nasheed’s release.”

The government insists Nasheed and Nazim must exhaust all domestic appeal processes, while President Yameen says he has no constitutional authority to release the pair.

A ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) activist from Fuvahmulah said he, too, does not expect a meaningful outcome from the talks.

“The government has not released Nasheed and Nazim despite repeated calls from the international community to release the pair. So why would they listen to demands from domestic political parties?” Basil Thuthu, 22-years, questioned.

Why does the government want to keep Nasheed in jail?

“If the government decides to release Nasheed, which I don’t think will happen, he would again fight for the presidency and the government would want to shut him up again. So hope for a politically stable country is a much too ambitious goal,” Basim Abdulla, a young professional designer said.

“With Ramadan just a few weeks away, I think political activity will slow down. But I do not see lasting stability,” he said.

Some see MDP’s call for Nasheed’s release as stubborn. A lawyer who wished to remain anonymous said the government, for the first time, is willing to discuss judicial reform. The MDP must use the opportunity to reform the judiciary, a step that will lead to Nasheed’s release, he said.

“We all know the justice system is corrupt and weak. This is the reason why Nasheed is behind bars right now. So why not stop all the work and work on reforming the justice system? The government with all its might is saying they won’t release Nasheed. I think it’s time for MDP to compromise,” he said.

But others say if the MDP compromises and gives in, it will lose public support.

“The government is not backing up even a bit. So if MDP gives in now, and stay quiet, they will face a big defeat in the next election,” Mohamed Ismail Umar, 46, from northern Kulhuduhfushi Island said.

One PPM activist, however, said he expected a solution soon.

“The president wants to involve everyone in the discussions. I think it is impossible for Nasheed to participate in the talks and it doesn’t make any sense as he serving a sentence right now. So eventually, if the political parties want a solution, which I think is what everyone wants right now a positive outcome will come,” Ahmed Abu Bakuru, a coordinator at the youth ministry, said.

The invitation for talks was extended on May 14, but there has not been any substantial progress yet.

The opposition is now planning a third mass protest for June 12. Many opposition supporters say they have no choice but to keep on protesting.

The MDP youth wing’s president Mohamed Azmeel said he is encouraged by the increasing support for the opposition. The numbers at protests are growing, he said.

Over 10,000 attended a mass protest on February 27, while over 20,000 attended the May 1 protests, he said.

“The call for talks is just a game. The government only wants to appear reconciliatory when, in fact, they are not. I do not see any hope at this moment. But this will eventually end in the citizens’ favour. The longer this stalemate continues, more and more people will get fed-up, and the government will be eventually forced to back down,” he said.

For others, the government’s intransigence in the talks signals a slide into authoritarianism.

“I think the future is quite clear. The country will be stable but we won’t be practicing democracy. We might get a glimpse of development here and there but people won’t be free. We are heading towards a long dictatorial regime,” Ibrahim Lirar, a 27-year-old resort worker said.

Photo by Dhahau Naseem


7 thoughts on “Crisis in Maldives: Can talks succeed?”

  1. "government unwilling to discuss the triggers for political unrest – the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim"

    This is BS, since Nasheed and MDP were protesting on the streets for weeks before his arrest. That time he was saying that he will protest till the government is toppled.

  2. "President Yameen says he has no constitutional authority to release the pair."

    But he sure loves to release convicted drug dealers, while keeping the poor addicts in jails and either shipping them off to Syria, or using them as death squads.

  3. You are walking across the street when a thug on a motorbike rushes into you, snatches your wallet and drives off laughing. In a moment of clarity, you write down the board number of the motorbike with some chalk. You then report the theft to the police.

    A few weeks later, you are summoned to the police station, where the sergeant nervously tells you to enter a side room. There, you see the thug who stole your wallet, smelly feet on the table, grinning at you. "If you say I'm the thief, I will kill you and hang you by your guts" he spits out as he pulls out a machete. The police officer bows and licks off the dirt from his feet.

    Unable to protest, you tell the sergeant that he is not the thief, and he walks away free, but not before spitting in your general direction. As you make your way out of the police station, you feel yourself kicked to the curb. Incredulously, you look up to see the police sergeant scowling at you.

    "You stupid ****ing *****!!!" he yells. "That was for trying to make me lose my job!"


    This is what talking with the regime today is like. Talking will solve nothing. War will.

  4. Talks can resolve when there are conflicts in opinion; here you have one side who either want to hold on power by containing dissent or thinks social harmony by using force is more important than prosperity achieved with freedom by addressing the real issues on political instability. Also there are segments who are trying their best to liquidate Anni as he is seen as a cancer on their peaceful idle lazy primitive life style which they see as their glory. This thought system with revengeful mindset may not coexist in any near future , the time may bridge the gap between these two once general public understand what is important for them. But it is important all those political victims are released, and all resources should be used for their release, tyranny and injustice should not come back even for the sake of quietness on the roads. Anni was forced down so the natural responses will be to do everything to bring down those who relentlessly did it. Anni is not alone who think the freedom and democracy is the key for the development any society, there are many and it will be increasing with every passing day.

  5. How can there ever be sensible, intelligent, intellectual discussion and arrive at a conclusive meeting of mind on issues with a streetwise rowdy like Nasheed-ANNI sitting across the table. If he is present it will end up in failure. He is never a team player. He has proven that during his brief time in office. He forced his own cabinet to resign without consultation. He resigned His Presidency without consultation. He thinks no end of himself and will be desastrous to discuss and find any find of conclude talks with him around. President Yameen is right.

    1. My son, if you would stop lapping up the lies fed to you by your masters, you'd know that Nasheed was held incommunicado by the police and army on 7th february 2012, and unless he resigned, the traitors threatened to murder many innocent Maldivians.

      Unlike your masters, Nasheed is a man that cares for us.

      And we, the people, are not interested in reconciliation. My only advice for you is to get plastic surgery, become a naturalized citizen abroad and pray to Allah that the people of Maldives do not find you.

  6. We are not interested in talks.

    We wish for the total, unconditional extinction of PPM and their kaminee gang.


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