Government should initiate discussions or face consequences, warns opposition

The government should initiate dialogue with the opposition or face the consequences, leaders of the “Maldivians against brutality” opposition alliance have warned.

The alliance – which was formed after the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accepted an invitation from religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) to form a united front against the government – officially launched activities last night with a 1,000-strong protest march in the capital Malé.

“It is the government that has to come to the discussion table now. When we previously showed a good example, the government did not accept it,” said MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed.

President Abdulla Yameen had previously denied requests by the MDP and Jumhooree Party (JP) alliance to hold discussions over 13 demands issued at a mass rally on February 27.

Last night’s march began near the artificial beach and ended shortly before midnight with protesters gathered at the Chandhanee Magu-Majeedhee Magu junction.

“If [President Yameen] does not come to the [negotation] table, I would say he won’t have any other choice but to go home,” said JP Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim.

The JP has not officially joined the new alliance, but its senior leaders are represented at the alliance’s steering committee and took part in last night’s protest march.

Ameen contended that the Maldives’ reputation has been tarnished and credibility lost after President Yameen gathered all powers of the state to himself.

Moreover, the public has lost confidence in both the judiciary and the security services following the conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges and the ongoing trial of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim on charges of weapons possession.

AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla meanwhile insisted that Nazim was framed by “high ranking officials by the government.”

“Even though it could not be proven at court, we told Yameen that we have enough evidence to prove that Nazim was being framed and that the president knew about this. However, he denied any knowledge of the case,” Imran said.

He further claimed that the pen drive found at Nazim’s house contained the names of 26 political opponents of President Yameen, whom the government was planning to prosecute and jail.

Former State Trading Organisation (STO) Managing Director Adam Azim – brother of the former defence minister – and former ruling party MP Ahmed Mahloof also took part in the protest march, with the latter acting as the flag bearer at the front.


Photo from social media
Photo from social media

Imran also declared that the opposition would no longer tolerate President Yameen’s “brutality,” Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb’s alleged rampant corruption, unfair prosecution of political rivals, and “destruction of public property”.

The opposition would endure and overcome the government’s “brutality,” he said, adding that the opposition alliance would “not step back once inch” before reaching its goal.



MDP-JP seeks “national reconciliation” at meeting with Home Minister Umar Naseer

Leaders of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party-Jumhooree Party (MDP-JP) alliance met Home Minister Umar Naseer today to seek the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting this morning, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said the opposition leaders told the home minister that the present state of the country was such that “a national reconciliation” was necessary.

“And we said the opposition is ready to listen to what the government has to say,” he said, noting that the leaders discussed “the intensity of the current political turmoil”.

Both sides agreed not to reveal further details to the media in the interests of “constructive diplomacy,” Waheed said, adding that the opposition hoped to receive a response from the government.

The opposition would continue its protests calling for the release of Nasheed, Nazim and others arrested during anti-government demonstrations, Waheed continued, but “the discussion table should be always be open.”

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile said the opposition leaders stressed the importance of peacefully resolving the current political crisis to ensure economic and social stability.

“Home Minister Umar Naseer said he would take [the concerns] to the president,” Gasim said.

The opposition alliance revealed on Tuesday night that President Yameen rejected a request for a meeting to discuss 13 demands issued at a mass rally on February 27. JP Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim told the press that President Yameen responded to a formal request by stating that he was only willing to meet if the opposition wished to discuss matters that were beneficial to the public.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told local media yesterday that the president did not have the authority to release suspects in detention while on trial, noting that the judiciary was an independent branch under separation of powers.

The president was open to discussions if the opposition proposed matters that were both beneficial to the public and within the president’s powers and constitutional responsibilities, he said.

In a tweet yesterday, Home Minister Umar Naseer said the meeting should not be interpreted as “negotiation” between the government and the opposition.

Also present at the meeting were Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, MDP parliamentary group leader as well as JP MPs Ilham Ahmed, Abdulla Riyaz, and Hussain Mohamed.

In addition to the release of Nasheed and Nazim, the opposition’s demands included repealing amendments to the Auditor General’s Act that saw the removal of former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim, empowering local councils, and investigating serious corruption allegations against senior government officials.

Other demands issued at the protest march included continuing electricity subsidies, fulfilling campaign pledges to provide subsidies to fishermen and farmers, and reversing a decision to impose import duty on fuel.

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