Scheduled peace talks between the government and opposition joint coalition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), People’s Alliance (PA), Jumhoory Party (JP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) supposed to be held yesterday afternoon were reportedly cancelled due to confusion over the time..
MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor said the meeting was scheduled for 4:30pm yesterday – a time agreed during the last meeting held – but the opposition attended the meeting at 4:00pm.
‘’It was just a minor time issue, an inadequate reason to cancel the meeting,’’ said Gafoor. ‘’We understood that the meeting was scheduled for 4:30pm and we went there for 4:30pm.’’
Gafoor said that when MDP delegates attended some of the opposition delegates had already left the venue and others were being interviewed by the press.
‘’They were telling the press that the meeting was canceled because we did not come on time,’’ Gafoor said.
Deputy Leader and Spokesperson for the DRP, Ibrahim Shareef, insisted the time agreed by both sides was 4:00pm.
“It was scheduled for 4:00pm. In the joint statement issued the time was set for 4:00pm, and [the MDP] came late,’’ said Shareef. ‘’Our team waited but there was no sign of the ruling party delegates.’’
He said that the MDP delegates “did not even advise whether they would be coming or not”, and that therefore the opposition coalition decided to cancel the meeting because they had not arrived at the scheduled time.
‘’If they gave us a signal that they were coming we would have waited, but since there was no sign that they were coming, we did not know when they would arrive,’’ Shareef said.
MDP Chairperson Mariya Didi described the incident as “a very silly mistake on both our sides. I think it has been played up in the media. We were waiting outside [the venue] – it is unfortunate they did not call to find out.”
Speaker of the Parliament and DRP MP Abdulla Shahid cancelled the parliamentary session today to make way for the ongoing peace talks, in a bid to allow the resolution of issues behind closed doors.
Mariya acknowledged the decision, suggesting that a sitting of parliament would potentially lead “to fighting and further bad faith.”
The President’s Member on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Aishath Velezinee, last week accused the Speaker of taking “undue advantage” of the political crisis and the cancellation of parliament, by seeking to expedite the reappointment of existing judges before the Constitutional deadline of August 7 despite plummeting public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.
“The Speaker is now coming and sitting in the JSC [office] day and night, during Friday, holidays and Independence Day. The Speaker is sitting in the JSC trying to expedite this process of reappointing judges before the Majlis starts,” Velezinee claimed.
Abdulla Shahid was not responding to calls at time of press.
President Mohamed Nasheed has nominated Supreme Court Judge Uz Ahmed Faiz Hussain as the new Chief Justice, however this – along with the reappointment of his cabinet members, following their voluntary resignation a week earlier – requires parliamentary approval.
Mariya noted that the judiciary was one of the subjects of discussion among the parties, but reiterated that both sides had agreed not to reveal details of the talks to the media.
As for the status of the talks following yesterday’s apparent confusion over times, “we’re still working on it.”