Nasheed to attend final session of all-party talks at Bandos

Former President Mohamed Nasheed will represent the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at the final session of the all-party roadmap talks being held at Bandos Island Resort this weekend, says Haveeru.

The three day talks, scheduled to start today, represent a break-through in the dialogue between the MDP and the government coalition parties. The group will discuss a newly defined agenda comprising six issues which will include, in order of precedence, how to resolve public disturbances, the budget situation, reform of independent institutions, new laws, constitutional amendments and, finally, early presidential elections.

The talks began in February but have faltered, with disagreements over the talk’s aims, methods, and make-up, all hampering genuine progress over the past months.

Convener of the roadmap talks Ahmed Mujuthaba, initiated with the assistance of Indian diplomats, has been assisted by United Nations mediation expert Pierre Yves Monett.

Former Minister for Tourism Mariyam Zulfa, who served under Nasheed’s presidency and who has represented the party at recent all-party talks, told Minivan News this week that the MDP hoped all leaders could assemble on the final day of the talks to sign a draft agreement.


Dr Didi turns to courts over MDP presidency dispute, after EC drops complaint

Former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) President Dr Ibrahim Didi has said he will take concerns over the legitimacy of a no confidence motion taken against him last month to the country’s courts, after the Elections Commission (EC) dropped his complaint.

Dr Didi, along with former party Vice President Alhan Fahmy, were both voted out of their respective positions by the MDP’s National Council in a vote held on April 30. Both were dismissed through a no-confidence motion approved by 69 out of 73 votes – though Didi and Fahmy have been critical of the legality of the vote.

The MDP has contended that the dismissal case is “over” following the passing of the no-confidence motion against the president and vice president.

However, Dr Didi told Minivan News today that his lawyers were currently sending a case to the courts regarding his dismissal from the party’s presidency. He contends the no confidence motion was not taken in line with the MDP’s approved regulations registered with the EC at the time.

The comments were made as the EC this week said there was no action it could take relating to concerns raised by the former party president over the legality of the no-confidence motion against him.

EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz claimed that the commission had not ruled on whether the MDP National Council had acted according to its regulations in dismissing the party president and vice president.  Nonetheless, Fayaz added there was also no evidence to suggest the dismissal was unconstitutional under basic regulations.

“Dr Didi has sent us a letter stating that his dismissal was against the party’s constitution; as a regulator we looked into the matter,” he said. “We can’t say anything about whether the party acted according to its regulations, but we have not found any grounds that it was unconstitutional under these rules.”

Fayaz said Dr Didi’s dismissal from the presidency did not also appear to be in breach of regulations that were put in place when multi-party democracy was established under the tenure of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2005.

Fayaz added that legislation that would oversee and outline correct procedures for operating political parties – such as no confidence motions against senior figures – did not currently exist.  He added that the lack of such a law limited the action that could be taken in such a case.

Though a law to oversee governance among the country’s parties is demanded under the present constitution, the bill had still yet to be passed by the Majlis, Fayaz said.

Court motion

Dr Ibrahim Didi said that, as the EC do not have legal grounds to rule on the no confidence motion, he would now work to submit a court case raising his concerns about the nature of his dismissal.

Dr Didi said he believed the MDP did not have proof to support claims that he has been dismissed legitimately in line with party regulations, which were amended on May 17, 2012.

“They [the party’s national council] do not have a legal right to take a no confidence motion under the registered regulations,” he added.

Dr Didi also raised concerns about the legitimacy of former President Nasheed’s exact position within the MDP following the controversial transfer of power in February that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan succeed him into office.

Didi raised issue that Nasheed retained leadership of the MDP despite no longer holding the position of Maldivian President.

Responding to Dr Didi’s criticisms, MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said his dismissal case was “over” as far as the party was concerned.

Ghafoor pointed to several factors such as the findings of the EC, as well as the 95 percent council voting majority that approved the no confidence motion.

“When you have a 95 percent vote of no confidence against you by the party’s national council, I would say the case is over,” he said. “However, Dr Didi does not want to accept this.”

Ghafoor claimed additionally that the issue of former President Nasheed’s leadership role in the party was “not controversial” and had been agreed by the MDP council on February 8.

“During a MDP National Council resolution passed on February 8, we have always maintained that this government – [President Waheed’s administration] illegally came to power,” he said. “We believe that Nasheed remains our legitimate president and leader and will continue to do so for the full five year-term he was elected.”

The issue of legitimacy over the no confidence moiton against Dr Didi has been divisive during the last month.  The India-sponsored all-party talks were stalled yet again as government-aligned parties raised the issue of legitimacy of the MDP’s present leadership.

However, Ghafoor alleged that Dr Didi’s main support as president of the MDP comes from government-aligned political figures such as former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM). He went on to question the long-term success in relying on rival political organisations to support one’s candidacy.

“I think Dr Didi should not count on Gayoom’s supporters to back him [for the MDP presidency],” Ghafoor claimed.


All-party talks will not resume until EC decision reached

All Party Roadmap Talks will not continue until the Elections Commission (EC) has completed its investigations into a dispute over leadership of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), local media has  reported.

The secretariat of Ahmed Mujuthaba, who is mediating the all-party discussions, has said that talks were expected to reconvene after the EC makes a decision over the legitimacy of a vote to remove the MDP President and Vice-President, Haveeru reported.

The latest round of all party talks, scheduled for last Saturday, were aborted after parties aligned with the government refused to recognise the legitimacy of the MDP representatives in attendance.

Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef said last week that the DRP was waiting for the EC to make a decision on the legality of the MDP’s current leadership, as well as 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 the president or vice president,” he said at the time.  Shareef also noted that the DRP was “unhappily” not present during Saturday’s talks.

Dr Ibrahim Didi was removed from his position as President of the MDP, as was the Vice President Alhan Fahmy, after the party’s national council voted unanimously in support of motions of no-confidence brought against them on April 30.

Two days later, Dr Didi presented an official complaint to the EC, arguing that the procedure used to remove him from power was against the rules of the version of the MDP constitution that is legally registered at the EC.

The EC announced on Sunday that it would take a further ten days to reach a decision on the MDP case, Haveeru reports.


Stalemated all-party talks “ridiculous, a farce”, says Afeef

Progress continued to elude the participants in the All-Party Roadmap talks yesterday as the latest meeting ended in stalemate.

After repeated false starts since the first meeting on February 20, the talks stuttered after Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) representatives continued to question the make-up of the group engaged in the discussions, as well as the sincerity of the government’s statements over early elections.

One of the MDP’s representatives at yesterday’s meeting, former Home Minister Hassan Afeef, expressed doubts about the potential success of the roadmap talks.

“They are not interested in talking about political settlements, they are talking nonsense,” said Afeef.

“I don’t believe Mujuthaba [mediator of the talks] chose the parties [who were involved]… the old dictatorship chose it. I asked him how he had chosen the parties and he said he had chosen those who had been protesting against the MDP. It’s ridiculous, a farce,” continued Afeef.

The similarity of these statements with those following the first round of talks belies the lack of forward movement in the discussions.

An MDP statement after the first meeting explained the decision to boycott “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 Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, which has been involved in the talks, does not have official representation in the parliament or on an elected council.

Under parliamentary regulations, MPs who joined Gayoom’s PPM from the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) technically count as independent MPs until elected on a PPM ticket in the next parliamentary election.

Also representing the MDP at the meeting was the party’s interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik, who told Minivan News that “no concrete talking” took place at yesterday evening’s event. He also questioned the assembly and the motivations of the group.

Changing tack slightly, the MDP have now suggested that the talks should include all registered parties in the country, given the involvement of parties with no democratic mandate already participating.

“I have told Mujuthaba, ‘if all-party talks means all-party talks, then okay… if not, what are we doing?’” said Moosa.

PPM representative at the talks, Ilham Ahmed, told local paper Haveeru that the MDP had given no previous indication that they would be calling for greater inclusivity in the discussions. Ilham said that the proposal should be discussed as the MDP’s approach was “confusing”.

A press release from Mujuthaba’s office today stated that the main aim of yesterday’s talks remained the order the agenda. Mujuthaba told Haverru that no decisions had been made on the MDP’s new proposal.

The agenda was tentatively agreed upon at the second meeting at the end of February. The list included constitutional amendments, dates for early elections, and the potential changes needed for independent institutions. The order with which the agenda should be addressed was supposed to follow shortly after this.

The press release also said that all parties involved in the talks would meet with the United Nation’s observer at the talks. Mujuthaba is scheduled to be out of the country until April 24, prompting the convening of yesterday’s meeting.

The MDP’s blocking of President Waheed’s address to the People’s Majlis on March 1, however, saw the withdrawal from the talks of the DRP, PPM, Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). The MDP contends that its disruption of the sitting was justified as Dr Waheed’s presidency was illegitimate, given police and military mutiny that led to Nasheed’s resignation.

Moosa also questioned the agenda of the talks, suggesting that the aim of the group was to legitimise the government rather than push for early elections.

Regarding the continued participation of the MDP in the talks, Afeef said that he personally did not think progress could be made, but said he would be prepared to represent his party in further talks if asked.

Moosa stated: “We are ready to talk about early elections, for that we are ready to talk.”