President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik had reportedly given a three day ultimatum to the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to inform its decision on joining the cabinet as he pushed forward a plan to form a national unity government.
However during a press conference with foreign media at 4:30pm on Thursday afternoon, Dr Waheed adamantly denied giving such an ultimatum, instead saying he would always remain open to MDP’s involvement in his government. However the statement was still available on the President’s Office website as of midnight February 16.
“No we haven’t, I deny that. I am not aware of it. If somebody has, then somebody else is doing this,” he said.
According to the statement – released by the President’s Office on Thursday – Dr Waheed had forwarded a letter to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s President Dr Ibrahim Didi, requesting he inform the party’s decision on joining the national unity government before February 20.
“The President said that at a time when the country is deeply divided, the way forward in achieving national aspirations was through working together and by a fully inclusive government. He, therefore, urged MDP to join the national unity government that he was striving to form,” the statement read.
“The President also stressed the need to resolve the existing political rifts and to find a way forward. In this regard, he said, he hoped that his proposition would bring an end to the long standing divisions that had existed in the country.”
In the letter, President Waheed also stated that he believed that, despite the political differences, “the MDP President would also view the need to complete the reform process. He also stressed that the reform process would take time to complete.”
Therefore, he said, “he hoped that the MDP President would see that the time left till 2013 elections could be an opportunity for the country to address the political problems, identify issues and to work together to complete the reform process.”
Speaking to Minivan News Dr. Waheed’s spokesperson Masood Imad added that if the MDP did not respond to the letter in the given time, “there are ways to work around it” – although he did not specify those ways.
“By the end of the 20th if they dont give an answer they can do it on the 21st or may be later,” Imad observed. “We will not close our doors. As President Waheed had said before, we will welcome MDP with open arms always.”
Dr Waheed has put forward the ultimatum in the face of pressure from his predecessor former President Mohamed Nasheed from MDP, who has denounced Dr Waheed’s government as illegitimate, claiming that he was forced to resign in a bloodless coup d’etat on February 7 at the hands of rogue police and military officers.
Dr Waheed has earlier said that he wanted his cabinet – now compromising of mostly opposition members – to “represent all major political parties”, and said he hoped that MDP would be represented. Dr Waheed also said he would “keep posts vacant for them”. However the MDP has so far rejected any participation in Dr Waheed’s government and has called for early elections in the next two months.
India on Thursday evening amended its position on the Maldives and backed calls for early elections.