President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s nine-party “Roadmap” talks – an attempt to diplomatically resolve the current political crisis – have resulted in a series of agenda items, mediator Ahmed Mujuthaba told media today.
“We held the first meeting on February 20, but unfortunately because one of the relevant parties (the Maldivian Democratic Party) was not present we could not continue with the meeting. So we just had some informal consultations on that day,” he said.
The MDP initially boycotted the first round of talks – initiated by Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai – “when it became clear that the talks were to include political parties with no democratic mandate, and that they would focus on procedural issues such as the timing and venue for future talks – a clear effort to delay substantive discussions,” the party said at the time.
MDP’s Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has since represented the MDP at the talks.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mujuthaba said agenda items had now been agreed, although the order of preference remained under discussion. The items, he said, were:
- Which laws have to be amended, and what new laws are needed.
- Discuss and determine the changes that need to be brought to independent institutions and independent positions in the Constitution
- To discuss amendments that need to be brought to the Constitution
- To determine a date for the next Presidential elections
- Find out the present condition of the budget
- How to have the March 1 Majlis opening proceed in a peaceful manner
- How can to tackle and solve the present discord in Maldivian society
Speaking to the press, Mujuthaba acknowledged frustration at the speed of the talks.
“I am not happy at the speed of this. I would wish today or tomorrow that there would be some kind of agreement,” he said.
Asked his opinion as to whether early elections – the MDP’s primary demand – were a likely outcome of the talks, he replied that “until a time when I can say really there is a deadlock I don’t want to give up hope on any option in this agenda.”
He acknowledged concerns from the MDP over the composition of the talks and whether the other parties in attendance had a democratic mandate, but said this had only been raised with him minutes before commencement of the first meeting on February 20.
“I said look, you can come to the meeting and say these reasons. It would have been better if you had told me [earlier]. What you say is probably right, but I wish I knew about it before the first meeting,” Mujuthaba said.
Mujuthaba was a former Tourism Minister and was the first chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), appointed by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Dr Waheed appointed him to chair both the roadmap talks and to the government’s independent inquiry into the circumstances of the change of power. Mujuthaba subsequently excused himself from the latter.
“From the way these discussions were going I thought there would be a terrible conflict of interest if I was involved in both at the same time,” he noted. “Better to concentrate on one.”
Solih said Tuesday evening after another round of talks that no agreements had been reached.
The MDP has meanwhile maintained that it will escalate protests until an early election date is declared. Despite the present calm, both the resultant political stalemate and the prospect of chaos when parliament resumes remain a key source of tension in the capital Male’.
Minivan News understands that Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai briefly visited the Maldives today for the second time since the political crisis erupted on February 7.