The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) insists that there is no obstacle for former President Mohamed Nasheed to represent the main opposition party in official talks with the government.
The government had rejected Nasheed as the party’s representative on the grounds that the opposition leader is serving a 13-year jail sentence.
In a letter to President Abdulla Yameen, the MDP said that Nasheed was not sentenced to be “locked up in jail in isolation, unable to meet anyone.”
The government had facilitated meetings with meetings with Nasheed for representatives from the UN and the Commonwealth after his conviction in March, the party noted.
The MDP said that it is essential for all political parties, including the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), to sit down together for the talks.
President Yameen had called for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties – the MDP, the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) – to resolve the ongoing political crisis triggered by the arrest and imprisonment of Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.
The JP promptly accepted the invitation for talks, but the religious conservative AP proposed its detained president, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, among the party’s representatives.
Imran was released from police custody yesterday and faces charges of encouraging violence during the May Day mass anti-government demonstration.
The May Day demonstration was the second mass protest staged by the opposition calling for Nasheed and Nazim’s immediate release.
The government has ruled out negotiations over the release of Nasheed and Nazim, insisting the president does not have the constitutional authority to release convicts before the appeal process is exhausted.
President Yameen sent official invitations for the talks two weeks after the May Day protest. The proposed agenda for talks focuses on three aspects: political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary and legal system and political party participation in economic and social development.
“If there is no legal, medical, physical or administrative obstructions regarding the representatives proposed by the three parties, we will proceed with the talks,” president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali tweeted earlier this week.