The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is open to compromise in its position on the opening of parliament, the party has said, in its pursuit of an early election date.
“[The MDP] have to compromise as well. It should not be expected that during negotiations that only one side will make all the efforts to compromise,” said the MDP’s Parliamentary Group Leader Ibu Solih yesterday.
In a conciliatory statement, Solih said: “Just look at what happened last week. [The government] said that a date for an early election will not be settled until the parliament is opened, while we maintained that the parliament cannot be opened until a date is set. Both sides wanted their way.”
He continued to posit national welfare as the paramount concern during the current political upheavals: “Finding a way to co-exist should be of fundamental importance right now.”
President’s Office Spokesman Abbas Adil Riza said that the all-party talks would continue when the convener Ahmed Mujuthaba returns next week. Riza himself represented the Jumhoree Party (JP) of resort owner Gasim Ibrahim at the recent round of talks, and spoke of the need to find common legislative ground before fresh elections.
“Let parliament function and politicians be politicians,” said Riza. “We cannot allow extreme elements to take control.” Riza stated that the JP wanted assurances that the democratic processes that many people had worked hard to cultivate “would be allowed to function properly before it could support fresh elections.”
“We must not return to square one,” he continued, as he emphasised the need for clearer methods, situated on common ground, to resolve procedural deadlocks. He cited the PPM’s displeasure with the Electoral Commission and the MDPs unhappiness with the Judicial Services Commission as examples of this systemic conflict.
“Having nearly brought the democratic process to a standstill… let us legitimise the process,” he said.
Committee of National Inquiry (CNI)
Transparency Maldives Project Director Aiman Rasheed reported that a meeting between NGOs and the CNI today was candid and contained much “positive energy”.
Today’s meeting was attended by a number of local groups including the Maldivian Democracy Network, the Maldives NGO Federation and Democracy House.
“The inquiry is an opportunity for unity… It is a collaborative civil society effort,” Rasheed said. He emphasised the popular theme of better dialogue between parties.
Several parties on the side of the new government, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) last week walked away from the India-mediated roadmap talks after MDP MPs blocked the entry of Parliamentary Speaker, Abullah Shahid, to the People’s Majlis. The CNI has been presented by India as an important of path to political reconciliation in the Maldives.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan earlier in the week wrote to all parties urging a renewal of their commitment to the all party talks “in the best interest of the nation.”
During the meeting between the CNI and the representatives of Maldivian civil society, the issue of time constraints on the newly formed investigative body were also highlighted. Whilst time is needed to adequately staff and establish working procedures, Rasheed said he believed time was “a luxury” that could be ill-afforded.
The CNI has asked the Foreign Ministry to expedite its normal procedures in contacting the United Nations. International participation has been strongly advocated both domestically and internationally to safeguard the transparency of the inquiry process.
Following the MDPs recent claims of witness intimidation – including of police officers willing to speak to the inquiry – CNI members were candid about the challenges faced, acknowledging that witness protection would be an important issue.
The President spoke to local television station DhiTV this week, stating his intention to work tirelessly to unite the divided country.
In a subsequent statement on the President’s Office website, Dr Waheed said “satisfactory results could not be achieved if I attempted to work alone.”
“What we have witnessed over the past three years was the decisions of a single individual being imposed on all,” Dr Waheed claimed.