The opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) has officially accepted the president’s invitation for dialogue without conditions and assigned a four-member team to represent the party.
The JP said in a statement today that it hopes “political, social, and economic problems facing the Maldives” can be resolved through discussions.
President Abdulla Yameen had sent official invitation letters to the three allied parties today and appointed two ministerial teams to represent the government.
The JP promptly informed the president’s office that its representatives are deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim, MPs Ilham Ahmed, Abdulla Riyaz, and Hussain Mohamed.
However, at a press conference of the opposition ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance this afternoon, Ameen questioned the sincerity of the president’s offer and called on the government to release detained opposition leaders and supporters.
Ameen said the continuing detention of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Ali Waheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla and JP senior member Sobah Rasheed is “unjust”.
“If the calls for dialogue is sincere, the government’s unjust brutality should stop. Unless it is stopped, what is there to talk about?” he said.
The opposition parties on Thursday had welcomed President Yameen’s call for talks, but had demanded the release of leaders arrested from the May Day anti-government demonstration.
Adhaalath Party spokesperson Ali Zahir told Minivan News today that the party will make a decision after internal discussions.
Ameen meanwhile noted that the opposition has repeatedly urged the government to hold talks to resolve the political crisis triggered by the arrest and imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.
While the government insists that the demands to release Nasheed and Nazim are unlawful and beyond the president’s constitutional powers, Ameen said calls for releasing detainees within legal bounds were not unconstitutional.
Asked if the alliance expected a positive outcome from the talks, Ameen said the opposition has not lost hope, but would learn whether the government is sincere when the talks commence.
Meanwhile, the criminal court yesterday extended the remand detention of Imran and Ali Waheed by 10 days and seven days, respectively. The pair were arrested with court warrants in the wake of the May Day protest and accused of inciting violence.
Ameen was also arrested along with Imran and Ali Waheed, but the High Court last week overturned the criminal court’s order to hold him in remand detention for 15 days. All three were members of the alliance’s steering committee and had been on the front line of the May Day protest march.
Ameen said the prolonged detention of the opposition leaders and protesters arrested from the demonstration is “unacceptable” as police have interrogated the detainees and concluded investigations.
Imran, Waheed, and Sobah are kept in small cells apart from the rest of the prison population on Dhoonidhoo, Ameen said, adding that their punishment was similar to criminals serving 25-year jail sentences.
The opposition leaders have met the police upon request, shared information, and do not have criminal records, he added, questioning how they were found to pose a danger to society.
Malé mayor Mohamed Shihab said the MDP believes the detained leaders are “political prisoners”.