The India-sponsored all-party talks ground to a halt again yesterday, after parties affiliated with the ruling coalition challenged the legitimacy of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s representation.
The ousted party’s President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice President Alhan Fahmy were removed from their posts last week in a near unanimous vote by the party’s national council. The pair are contesting their dismissal.
“The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) delegate walked out questioning the legality of the MDP leadership,” explained Dr Mariyam Zulfa, who represented the MDP at the talks, together with party spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
“We are of the opinion that they had planned to derail the talks before they had begun. The PPM delegate said legitimacy of the [MDP’s] leadership was in question. I think it was not a matter for them to decide,” Dr Zulfa said.
“Our representatives went through the protocol and processes and were authorised to attend. This is a plan to stall the talks,” she added.
Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef, of the new ruling coalition which the MDP contests came to power in a coup d’état on February 7, said the DRP was now waiting for the Elections Commission (EC) to make a decision on the legality of the MDP’s current leadership, and its authority to appoint representatives to the all party talks.
“[The representatives] must be properly endorsed by the party. Somebody with the authority to nominate the representative of the party, such as President or Vice President,” he said, noting that the DRP was “unhappily” not present during yesterday’s talks.”
Dr Zulfa described the roadmap talks as “a bit of a farce”.
“[President] Dr Mohamed Waheed is purporting to the international community that he is bringing all the parties to the table, but on the weekend he went out in public and said the earliest he would hold elections was July 2013. He is saying one thing and doing quite the opposite. It is very revealing to us,” she said.
“The PPM is behind the coup-led government, and the longer they can stay in power the better it is for them. They have not taken into account the people’s vote – our agenda is to restore the legitimacy of government,” Dr Zulfa said.
The talks previously stalled in March after parties were unable to agree on a priority for the five item agenda, which includes early elections.
“The MDP at first chose to not take part in the talks, and there was such a big outcry from the opposition parties that we were not acting in good faith,” Dr Zulfa said. “Now we are participating, early elections are on the agenda, and they are saying the talks are designed so that MDP will benefit the most from them. It is quite amazing.”