The opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) has proposed conducting all-party talks to resolve the ongoing political crisis at the first meeting between the opposition party and President Abdulla Yameen’s representatives today.
JP MP Abdulla Riyaz told Minivan News that the party proposed three other issues for discussion: freeing opposition politicians in jail or facing criminal prosecution within legal bounds, ensuring the independence of the judiciary, and protecting investors.
A second meeting has been scheduled for 3:00pm on Sunday to discuss the proposals.
President Abdulla Yameen had called for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties last month, but Riyaz said the JP today proposed setting up a “platform” for discussions among all political parties, including the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
The JP’s representatives for the talks are MPs Riyaz, Ilham Ahmed, Faisal Naseem, and Hussain Mohamed.
The government’s representatives include tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, president’s office minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘Mundhu,’ and environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim.
Mundhu told the press that the discussions took place in “a friendly atmosphere” and both sides agreed on how to carry the talks forward. The ministers will present the JP’s proposals to the president, he added.
The president’s official invitation for talks came after months of continuous protests over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as a US$90.4 million claim on JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group.
The JP immediately agreed to sit down with the government without conditions.
Gasim has meanwhile been in Bangkok since late April. According to local media, the criminal court has issued an arrest warrant for Gasim on charges of financing a historic anti-government mass protest on May 1.
The JP’s deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and council member Sobah Rasheed are accused of inciting violence at the May Day protest, and have been charged with terrorism. If convicted, they face between 10 and 15 years in jail.
Both Ameen and Sobah are out of the country. In a video message this week, Sobah said he is seeking political asylum.
President Yameen has meanwhile ruled out negotiations over Nasheed and Nazim’s release. His agenda focuses on political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary and political party participation in socio-economic development.
The MDP has proposed Nasheed, chairperson Ali Waheed and MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as representatives. The Adhaalath Party proposed its president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who is currently in police custody. He is also charged with terrorism over the May Day protest.
The government has rejected Nasheed and Imran as representatives.
Speaking to Minivan News today after Riyaz declared that the JP was not involved with the ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance and the upcoming mass protest on June 12.
MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz said that JP members were working with the alliance in their individual capacity. He noted that the JP had not formally joined the alliance or supported the May Day protest.
MDP MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih meanwhile told the press this afternoon that all political parties should sit down together for the talks in order to ensure a positive outcome.
“We think that a good result can be achieved when parties of all ideologies sit at the same table for discussions as all parties were given the same agenda and they have the same concerns,” he said.
The newly-appointed British High Commissioner to the Maldives has also supported all-party talks.
“We think it’s important that talks involving all parties should take place. It seems to me to be logical that talks should take place involving all the parties together, both the party in government and parties in opposition,” James Dauris said in an interview with Minivan News during a two-day visit to the Maldives in May.