Spokesperson of the President’s Office, Abbas Adil Riza has said that the government welcomes Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s decision to come to the negotiation table to discuss on the proposed roadmap and holding of an early election, in a press conference on Sunday.
“MDP has said that they are ready to join the talks and we welcome that. We are ready to negotiate on terms that would bring peace and stability in the country,” said Riza said in his opening statement.
However, Riza said that MDP should “stop acts of terrorism” and “vandalism of public property”. Riza said that the government would not tolerate such acts and will not negotiate over the release of suspected criminals behind the attacks on public property during MDP protests.
“The government will not negotiate in releasing those arrested and charged for terrorism, will not let them be considered political prisoners,” Riza said.
Highlighting the All Party Peace Talks, which were initiated by the government to implement a roadmap to bring necessary institutional reforms and pave way for an early election, Riza claimed that the MDP has two main conditions.
“One is to announce a date to hold the early elections and second is to withdraw charges against those who have been arrested in the protests,” he said.
Abbas claimed the government was open to negotiation of the first proposition but would not negotiate on releasing those arrested and withdrawing the charges.
”MDP is asking us to release those arrested for damaging public property and vandalism, but we cannot, and will not do it as our criminal justice system does not allow it,” Riza stated. “The government won’t agree on illegal and unlawful terms such as releasing criminals.”
Asked by a journalist on what basis Riza had accused the MDP of the recent acts of vandalism, Riza said that the MDP had openly called for such actions in their political gatherings.
“We are saying that the MDP is calling for terrorism because they have openly called at the podium to incite violence and has encouraged the acts of terrorism,” he alleged.
“They called to damage public property, arson attacks, they discuss the methods of how to attack the police, they teach techniques of confronting the police, and these things are clearly forbidden by the terrorism prohibition act. These acts clearly satisfy the conditions to be considered as acts of terrorism,” Riza said.
Speaking to Minivan, MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy denied the allegations of terrorism against the party.
“That is a very unfair remark Abbas has made. If they are calling us terrorists, they are basically saying that the citizens of this country are terrorists. We are the largest political party in terms of membership and support base. We have the most number of MPs representing in the parliament as a single party.
“Those in the protests are people voicing their concerns, so if they are calling us terrorists, then they are labeling the people of the country as terrorists,” Fahmy said.
“If anyone looks rationally into what is happening in this country, it will be clear that they are the real terrorists,” he continued.
“They brought this coup, they raided the state broadcaster like terrorists, they set fire to the MDP haruge (headquarters) and they even raided the Raalhugandu Area where we had peaceful protests. So who are the real terrorists?” questioned Fahmy.
Regarding Riza’s statement on MDP negotiating the release of suspects, Fahmy said, “The MDP is not asking to release criminals. We were asking for the release of those who have been arrested unfairly. There are people who are under police custody who have not indulged in any form of violence. They are not criminals.”
Fahmy also reiterated that MDP is a peaceful democratic party and that they will always be open to negotiate on issues. He also said that because MDP had decided to negotiate with the government did not mean that their stand has changed.
Instead he said that the stand of the party is very clear: “to make sure that any government ruling over the country is in power legitimately.”
The current government is not legitimate and the public wants an early election, he stated.
The MDP earlier condemned the recent attacks on police.