MDP and JP reach agreement on defence of Constitution

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Jumhooree Party (JP) have officially agreed to work together in defending the Constitution.

JP Vice President Ibrahim Ameen – who represented the party in talks held last night – described the meeting as “successful”, saying the parties agreed to cooperate in defence of the Constitution, both inside and outside of the Majlis.

An outline of the course of action was also reported to have been agreed upon, though Ameen refrained from revealing specific details.

The meeting represented the first official talks between opposition parties after MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed called for all-party talks last week, citing persistent breaches of the Constitution by President Abdulla Yameen’s government.

Earlier this week the JP officially severed its ties with the ruling Progressive Coalition – defunct since May last year, with party leader Gasim Ibrahim inviting all opposition parties for talks.

While MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed, Malé City Mayor Mohamed Shihab and former Majlis Speaker MP Abdulla Shahid participated in the talks on behalf of MDP last night, the JP was represented by Ameen, Dr Hussain Rasheed, MP Ali Hussein, and former Police Commissioner MP Abdulla Riyaz.

Minivan News was unable to obtain a comment from MDP Chairperson Waheed at the time of publication.

The JP has also invited the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Adhaalath Party to the talks, despite the religious party being an unofficial member of the governing coalition.

DRP leader Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed confirmed to Minivan News that the party had received the invitation for all-party talks and said that the party council has not yet decided on the matter.

“We are working to schedule a council meeting today”, said Nasheed.

Adhaalath, which holds a single seat in the People’s Majlis, has received an invitation to future talks but has not yet decided on whether it will attend, the party revealed through its official twitter account yesterday.

JP Spokesman Ali Solih claimed today that Adhaalath has accepted the invitation, though they have not officially replied to it.

“As per Adhaalath’s regulations and internal mechanism, the party also will need to consult with relevant bodies. We are very optimistic that Adhaalath also will cooperate in the efforts to defend the constitution”, Ali Solih said.

Minivan News was unable to obtain a comment from Adhaalath as the party’s President Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Spokesman Sheikh Ali Zahir were not responding to calls.

The JP – which has 13 MPs in the 85-seat Majlis – this week voted through its national council to give leader Gasim Ibrahim the authority to make all decisions regarding actions needed to defend the Constitution.

The JP was officially aligned with the ruling PPM until Gasim’s decision to stand for the Majlis Speaker position, after having given crucial backing to Abdulla Yameen in the 2013 presidential race.

Unofficial talks were announced earlier this month between the JP and MDP, which holds 22 seats in the Majlis, while former President and MDP leader Nasheed has pledged to defend Gasim against government attacks.

Related to this story

MDP holds street rally in front of Gasim’s residence

JP council officially declares exit from Progressive Coalition

Nasheed urges President Yameen to convene all-party talks

We must once again rise up to defend the Constitition, says Nasheed


MDP selects representatives for all-party talks

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has formulated the team which will represent the party in all-party talks planned to discuss steps to defend the Constitution.

In a tweet by MDP chairperson Ali Waheed it was revealed that the team will consist of himself, Parliamentary Group leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, former Majlis Speaker MP Abdulla Shahid, former party Chairperson MP Mariya Didi, and Malé City Mayor Mohamed Shihab.

MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed has urged President Abdulla Yameen to abandon strict and arbitrary policies and actions against other political figures and to conduct official talks with all political parties.

“As soon as possible, even if possible tonight, I urge President Yameen to commence talks with all political parties, especially with the inclusion of President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] in the talks,” he said.

Similarly,the Jumhooree Party has also has called on all political parties to discuss the steps that need to be taken to defend the Constitution, stating that it was willing to work with any party for that cause, in spite of potential threats and intimidation from the government.

The MDP have listed the removal of two Supreme Court judges and the replacement of the auditor general late last year as examples of the government’s unconstitutional actions.


Nasheed urges President Yameen to convene all-party talks

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) President Mohamed Nasheed has called on President Abdulla Yameen to conduct official talks with all political parties.

“As soon as possible, even if possible tonight, I urge President Yameen to commence talks with all political parties, especially with the inclusion of President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] in the talks,” said the former president.

“I urge President Yameen to hold discussions with President Maumoon, Honourable Gasim, even us and leaders of Adhaalath Party. Also to move away from actions that will push Maldives into chaos.”

Speaking to journalists on his return from an official trip to Abu Dhabi, Nasheed urged Yameen to abandon his strict and arbitrary policies and actions against other political figures.

Nasheed also called on President Yameen to bring any necessary legal or constitutional changes through dialogue with political parties.

Earlier this week, the MDP held a rally in front of Maafannu Villa, the residence of Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, after reports that the Maamigili MP’s home was to be raided, as the now-dismissed defence minister’s was on Sunday morning (January 18).

Speaking at the rally, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said the MDP and JP were having informal talks to create a platform to defend the Constitution.

President Nasheed tweeted yesterday (January 21) that he had been informed of government plans to arrest him on his return, saying: “I have cut short my trip & will be back tomorrow. I’ll always stand up for democracy”.

While Nasheed was out of the country, his legal team was informed that the High Court was to resume the Hulhumalé Magistrates Court appeal case, the result of which could see Nasheed’s trial for the 2012 detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed resume.

Nasheed also claimed this afternoon that the government planned to sign the Maritime Silk Route agreement on January 25 and to hand over large parts of Laamu Atoll to China for the establishment of a military base for 99 years in return for US$2 billion.

“When such actions are taken, the relationship between some bigger neighbouring countries and Maldives will deteriorate significantly”, Nasheed stated.

Speaking last month at the inaugural ceremony of the Laamu Atoll link road – built and financed by the Chinese government – Yameen revealed that the government had identified the area as a potential special economic zone (SEZ).

Tourism minister and head of the SEZ investment board Ahmed Adeeb was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

On December 16, the Maldives officially signed up to China’s Maritime Silk Route project, with economic development minister Mohamed Saeed signing an MoU during the first meeting of the Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

President Xi Jinpeng has repeatedly called upon the Maldives to become involved in the project, which Xinhua has reported to have the support of over 50 countries.

One such urging came during Xi’s state visit to the Maldives in September 2014 – the first by a Chinese head of state, representing the rapidly expanding ties between the two countries.

Related to this story

MDP holds street rally in front of Gasim’s residence

We must once again rise up to defend the Constitition, says Nasheed


Moderator of All-Party Talks resigns as MDP withdraws

Convenor Ahmed Mujuthaba has resigned from the All-Party Talks.

The talks were envisaged by India as a means to resolve political tension in the country as one track of the international community’s response to the situation, together with the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), but have since been eclipsed by the leader’s dialogue talks.

The CNI recently released its report stating that there was no coup in the Maldives, that Nasheed did not resign under duress, and that no police mutiny took place.

In a press release issued by the talks’ secretariat, Mujuthaba stated two specific reasons for his decision to resign.

The first reason was that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had declined from participating in the talks at present, Mujuthaba stated. As the All-Party Talks have now been converted to Leaders’ Dialogue, which is limited to parties that have parliament representation, he suggested that the talks could be continued within parliament itself.

The MDP has released a statement last night stating the party had decided in its National Executive Council meeting to stop participating in the talks for the time being. While it further states that this is not a permanent withdrawal from the discussions, the statement does not cite the reasons behind the decision.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad however said to Minivan News today, “Mujuthaba has resigned. What more is there to say? MDP has hijacked the all party talks.”

He declined from commenting on whether the Leaders’ Dialogue meeting scheduled for this afternoon would still be held.

At the initial Leader’s Dialogue meeting of 2nd September, the MDP Chairperson’s request for placing the issue of MDP’s role in the government on the discussion agenda gave rise to dissenting opinions through the coalition.

President Waheed had later stated that there was no possibility of MDP joining the unity government.

President’s Advisor on Political Affairs Ahmed Thaufeeg, earlier this month was quoted in local media as stating that MDP should attend the Leader’s Dialogue accepting that there would be no discussions concerning early elections, no chance of the party joining the current government, and that the party should have no further conditions.

Ahmed Mujuthaba was not responding to calls at the time of press.

MDP International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today that the party had temporarily withdrawn from the All Party Talks for the purposes of ‘reconsideration and re-engagement’.

Hamid said that on August 14 the MDP had taken the initiative to suggest holding talks between the parties represented in the legislature, but the proposition had initially been rejected by the government, who wished to have the talks after the release of the CNI report.
According to Hamid, the MDP came to the decision to reconsider participation because the government was unwilling to address a number of important issues, ranging from declaring the political alignment of the current government, taking action against police brutality as noted in the CNI report, and the possibility for early elections.
Hamid further said the the party believed that for the talks to be successful, it needed a strong convener and that this needed to be facilitated by the international community.

Dissenting opinion in unity government coalition over MDP role in government

Speaking to Minivan News today, Chairperson of Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) Moosa Manik said that at Leaders’ Dialogue meeting held Sunday he had requested for two points to be added to the discussion agenda.

“According to the CNI report, this is a continuation of the government elected in 2008. Since it was MDP that was elected in 2008, we must be in government even now,” said Moosa.

“So I requested that we add to the agenda discussions over the participation of the MDP in the government elected in 2008. On these same grounds, I also requested we add to the agenda discussions to clarify whether MDP represents the ruling party, or the opposition in parliament.”

While Moosa Manik stated that the requests made were only to add discussions on the topic to the agenda, local media has reported that the party has proposed the MDP itself be included in the government. The news caused an eruption of differing views among the former opposition parties.

In a press briefing held after Sunday’s meeting, the President’s Advisor on Political Affairs, Ahmed Thaufeeq, said that he welcomed the MDP’s proposition. Thaufeeq said he felt it was a wise step to take in strengthening the unity government. He did, however, say that the matter had to be discussed among the parties currently in the coalition before coming to a decision.

Meanwhile, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News today that there was no way all political parties could be part of a government in a modern democracy.

“If the MDP is allowed to join the government, then who will be the opposition? We need a viable opposition for the government to function. MDP is continuing to create havoc through protests and calling the government traitors. The best option for them is to continue staying as a viable and legal opposition,” Masood said.

He said it was so far unclear whether MDP wanted to show support to the government by ending the ongoing protests while staying on as opposition, or if they wanted seats in the cabinet.

Secretary General of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Abdulla Ameen, told Minivan News that he was completely against the proposition. Alleging that MDP had failed to live up to its promises of 2008, Ameen said, “Dr Waheed very sincerely invited them to join the government previously, but they themselves rejected it. The MDP are still calling us ‘baaghi’ (traitor), so why should we let them into the government? Also, this proposition may have come from ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, and not necessarily from the party itself.”

Although Ameen stated that the party had not agreed on an official position on the issue yet, Vice President of DQP and current Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Mohamed Jameel, also told local media that he felt there was no justification to allow MDP into the government coalition.

On the other hand, Deputy Leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) and Parliament Member for Kashidhoo Constituency, Abdulla Jabir, is of the opinion that MDP’s initiative would translate into a means of maintaining peace in a country as small as the Maldives.

“I would personally welcome the initiative, and the members of MDP, into the government. However, the JP hasn’t yet discussed the issue within the party,” he said.

Contrary to Jabir’s views, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim and President Dr Ibrahim Didi – himself formerly President of the MDP – oppose the suggestion of MDP’s involvement in the government.

According to Sun Online, Dr Didi doubted the sincerity of the MDP’s proposition and stated that it is important to further look into the matter to see if it involves any “treacherous plans” of former President and MDP Presidential Candidate, Mohamed Nasheed. Gasim alleged that Nasheed had caused “immense loss to the country”, and that this had to be kept in mind when reviewing MDP’s request.

People’s Alliance MP Moosa Zameer told Minivan News that the party had no reservations about letting MDP into the current government coalition. He went on to say: “If Dr Waheed feels it is best to let MDP in, then we have no issues. However, we hope he will consider the fact that the bigger the government gets, the more complications will arise. There will be another election in 2013. Waheed very strongly wants a free and fair election. I feel that it can only go in a transparent manner which is to the satisfaction of all parties only if MDP too has a stake in the government.”

DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News that the party felt discussions in the Leaders’ Dialogue should only be shared with media by its coordinators. Regarding former President Nasheed’s statement that PPM and DRP should not be part of the current government, Mausoom said “We do not think it is worth responding to statements by people who hold no official position in MDP. Former President Nasheed holds no post in MDP’s leadership and cannot speak in its behalf. We will respond only if MDP releases a former statement regarding the matter.”

PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen has been quoted in local media as saying that letting MDP join the government is not a problem ‘in principle’, but that the general members of his party are strongly against the idea.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik clarified to Minivan News today that MDP had so far only accepted the CNI report along with the reservations put forward by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s nominee, Ahmed Saeed ‘Gahaa’. Moosa Manik also echoed former President Nasheed’s statement that if, according to the CNI, this is the 2008 government being continued, then he felt that the DRP and PPM should not at all be in the government coalition.

The Qaumee Party, Adhaalath Party, Jumhoree Party and Gaumee Ihthihaadh were in the 2008 coalition with MDP, while DRP, PPM and PA were in opposition.

MDP meanwhile confirms that it will continue the ongoing protests asking for early elections.

Interim Deputy Leader of PPM, Umar Naseer and Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Mahloof were not responding to calls at time of press.

Minister of Home Affairs and Vice President of Jumhooree Party Dr Mohamed Jameel and DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali were also not responding to calls.


Government claims all-party talks consensus as MDP maintains “early” election calls

The President’s Office has claimed all-party talks held last night at Bandos Island Resort and Spa concluded with senior representatives for the government and the nation’s political parties agreeing to move ahead through parliament to address the discussion’s key aims.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News that the all-party talks – the last of which, held in June, failed to reach a consensus on an agenda that included setting dates for early elections – saw representatives agreeing on revising the aims of the talks to reflect the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

However, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which continues to criticise the CNI findings – alleging they lack key witness testimonies and evidence – has today said it remained committed to pressing for early elections at the earliest possible date in line with calls from the European Union.

The comments were made after the CNI, charged with investigating the circumstances around the controversial transfer of power on February 7, concluded that the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to office constitutionally.

The Commonwealth, which backed the CNI under a reformed mandate and composition, yesterday called for report’s outcome to be respected – a stance shared by the US, India and the UN.

Following the CNI’s conclusion yesterday, Masood claimed the talks, which were attended by President Waheed, MDP Chair and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, “successfully” agreed to amend the aims of the talks. He added that these amended aims would now likely be addressed through the People’s Majlis rather than through continued external discussions.

Masood added that in light of the CNI’s findings, representatives at yesterday’s talks agreed on a new agenda, such as addressing legislative issues through parliament.  He contended that this work could potentially be dealt with through the formation of a special all-party parliamentary committee.

Speaking to Minivan News yesterday, DRP Leader Thasmeen said ahead of the talk that he believed the focus of discussions, which had previously outlined an agenda including potentially agreeing early elections for this year, “should now change”.

“There had previously been serious contention over the transfer of power. At this point we had been willing to discuss early elections. I think these questions have now been answered [with the CNI report]. It is now time for national reconciliation,” he said.

Thasmeen contended that the talks would likely no longer focus on agreeing a date for early elections, which President Waheed has previously said under the constitution can be scheduled for July 2013 at the earliest.

“I think it should be possible to move on and try finding common platforms for agreement,” he said at the time.

Both Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Interim Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and MDP Chair Manik – who were both representing their respective parties at the talks – were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said today that in spite of the CNI outcome, early elections remained a “key” focus of the opposition party going forward.

According to the MDP, the Commonwealth had not yet announced a change in its policy of pressing for early elections to be held this year to address the current political stalemate in the country.

Ghafoor added that he had also been encouraged by comments made by President Waheed in local media to hold talks between the leaders of the country’s parliamentary parties and himself, discussions he contended that would be limited to five key Majlis representatives.

In outlining the future focus of the party’s plans, former President Mohamed Nasheed was on Friday expected to hold a conference at 4:00pm in Male’ at the Mookai Hotel on Meheli Goalhi.

Addressing the party’s conduct following the CNI report yesterday, the MDP claimed that it believed 60 people were arrested during yesterday’s demonstrations as a result of an ongoing special operation launched by police in attempts to reduce unrest in the capital and wider atolls.

According to Ghafoor, the party was itself concerned with the large number of officers wearing balaclavas as they patrolled the capital, making it impossible to identify them individually.

“They were singing at MDP protesters and mocking them to try and provoke the public,” he claimed. “I myself observed spontaneous protests yesterday that were not organised offcially by the party. These were people who walked out of our national conference meeting yesterday. This situation saw a large number of arrests late into the night.”

According to official police figures, 50 people had been arrested as of yesterday afternoon. Of these suspects, seven were female and one person was classed as a minor.

By midnight, authorities confirmed that a further 13 people had been taken into custody. All suspects were charged with obstructing police in performing their duties.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef today confirmed local news reports that police would be arresting any member of the public heard calling officers “traitors” or alleging they had played part in a “coup”.

Haneef did not clarify if any arrests had been made on these grounds at the time of press.

Police said earlier this week that they will provide full support and security services to the demonstrations held “peacefully and within the contours of laws”.


CNI criticism will “complicate” resolving all-party talks: Thasmeen

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has today welcomed efforts to resume the stalled all-party talks, despite warning that any agreement on resolving political tensions in the Maldives had been “complicated” by opposition criticism of a draft report of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

The all-party talks, which were last held back in June, are one track of the international community’s response to the political turmoil in the Maldives, together with the Commonwealth-backed CNI.

DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said today that his party had no objections to resume these all-party talks and subsequent discussions over the possibility of setting early elections.

However, Thasmeen claimed criticisms of the CNI’s findings by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s own representative on the commission threatened to compromise the chances of finding a potential resolution through dialogue.

The DRP is presently one of several parties serving in the coalition government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

President Waheed announced on Friday (August 24) during an official visit to Sri Lanka that he would be inviting “political parties” to attend fresh all party talks, initially launched to try and resolve an ongoing deadlock in the country surrounding the controversial transfer of power that brought him to office in February.

While welcoming fresh talks, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which alleges that President Waheed came to power in a “coup d’etat”, has raised several concerns over the “conflicting statements” made by the government concerning talks of early elections and discussions on the potential outcomes of the CNI report.

The independence of the CNI’s report into the events surrounding the transfer of power on February 7 was itself today questioned by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s appointee to the commission, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.

Saeed alleged that certain information and evidence provided to the CNI had been omitted in a draft report of the body’s findings drawn up by the commission’s co-chair.

“There are significant gaps in the draft and it does not include evidence and statements given to the commission by many people. I believe remaining silent on the unfolding of events would be an injustice to this nation and to the people of the Maldives,” he announced today.

“Taking positions”

DRP Leader Thasmeen contended that Saeed’s comments had potentially compromised the success for all-party talks to resolve the current political tensions, as key players had now begun taking positions on the CNI’s findings before they had even been released.

“One party is now making judgements on the CNI, when the whole idea was to set out potential responses to the CNI before its findings are released,” he said. “Now people are changing their positions on how they will respond to the findings and things will be much more complicated on reaching acceptance on the report.”

Thasmeen contended therefore that “regardless of the CNI’s outcome”, all parties should accept its findings.

In moving forward with all-party talks, Thasmeen claimed that the DRP itself had no objections to the nature of potential topics on the agenda – a consideration that had seen earlier all-party talks stall on a number of occasions.

“Preconditions are not healthy in these talks, but today’s events have made things much more complicated now,” he said.

Thasmeen added at the time of press that he had not yet been made aware of whether a formal invite to the all-party talks from the president had been received by the DRP as he had been away travelling.  He added that while the DRP welcomed talks between political representatives “at the highest level”, the party would wait to see who else would be attending the discussions before nominating its own candidate to take part.

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – a government coalition partner of the DRP – last night announced it would also be accepting President Waheed’s invite to participate in talks.

PPM Leader and former Maldivan President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom told local media that the party’s decision to previously abandon the all-party talks had followed the start of what he claimed were “illegal activities” and protests carried out by the MDP.

PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer declined to comment today when contacted by Minivan News about the party’s participation in the talks or its response to the CNI’s findings.

While also welcoming the possibility of fresh talks today, MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed that President Waheed had continued to be acting “irresponsibly” by giving conflicting statements regarding his support for talks.  Ghafoor said this was seen particularly in the manner the president had addressed issues such as discussing early elections and the possible outcomes of the CNI.

“[President Waheed] has said in Colombo that is the opposition who are destabilising the country at present, but it is his own conflicting positions that are doing this,” he alleged.

Ghafoor pointed to claims made by the president in both international and local media during his visit to Sri Lanka over the last week that he said showed conflicting viewpoints with his stated desire to resume the talks.  President Waheed and his government in a number of interviews ruled out Commonwealth calls for early elections, as well as maintaining there would be no discussion on the outcome’s of the CNI until its work was completed.

“We would welcome the all-party talks. On August 14 we proposed discussions on three potential outcomes of the CNI. By August 18 we had got a reply from the government, who have since then been giving conflicting statements to the media,” Ghafoor claimed. “[President Waheed] has now called for all parties to join in talks and discuss the previous six point agenda, which includes the issue of early elections. He has also said that early elections are out of the question as the Commonwealth doesn’t understand the present situation.”

Following Saeed’s statement today, the MDP convened an emergency meeting of its National Council, where a resolution expressing concern on the draft CNI report was adopted with unanimous consent.  The resolution was proposed by former minister Mohamed Shihab and seconded by MP Mariya Ahmed Didi,

Despite the party’s criticism of the investigation, Ghafoor contended that there remained time to find consensus among the members of the CNI panel concerning the findings before they were released to the public on Thursday (August 30).

“The CNI report should be something that all its members have to agree upon so without MDP’s word, the report would not be authentic,” Ghafoor said. “There is a draft out there that appears to conclude that there was no police mutiny [on February 7], this is just not acceptable given what the public saw,” he claimed.

President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza and Media secretary Masood Imad were not responding to calls by Minivan News at the time of press.

However, speaking to local media following the release of Saeed’s statement today, Abbas claimed that Nasheed’s representative on the CNI panel had “violated” the agreement with the Commonwealth concerning disclosing details of the investigation.

“The Commonwealth agreement Nasheed signed states that a Singaporean judge will reside in CNI. No one must interfere with the work of the commission and also states that everyone must accept the findings of the commission,” he was quoted as saying in newspaper Haveeru. “But the representative from Nasheed sharing the draft report with the public is an indication that Nasheed does not respect any agreement.”

Abbas reportedly added that as a draft report, the CNI members still had room to discuss finalising the findings before their release.

Discussion focus

The previous round of the UN-mediated all-party talks, held at Vice President Waheed Deen’s Bandos Island Resort and Spa in early June, collapsed after parties aligned with the government presented the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with a list of 30 demands.

The list included calls that the MDP “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.

Following the Bandos retreat meeting, Convenor of the All-Party talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, acknowledged the lack of progress and suggested that “In the end, the most senior political leaders will need to create an atmosphere conducive to discussions, and come together prepared to work in good faith.”

Earlier this month, informal parliament-initiated talks – running parallel to the formal All-Party talks – were deemed to have stalled after participants failed to reach a consensus on resolving wider ongoing political deadlock and the suspension of the People’s Majlis.


MDP denies involvement in Hulhumale’ demonstration against VP, pledges commitment to talks

The Maldvian Democratic Party (MDP) said it remains committed to ceasing street demonstrations in order to facilitate talks with government-aligned parties, playing down fears that protests by a number of “individuals” against the vice-president on Thursday could derail negotiations.

MDP spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed today that the party had not been behind demonstrations held Thursday (August 9) on the island of Hulhumale’ during a visit by Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen. Ghafoor added that there had been no official communication from the government so far following these demonstrations with regard to stopping talks between the country’s political leaders.

Since the controversial transfer of power that brought President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan into office on February 7, former President Mohamed Nasheed has alleged he was removed from office in a “coup d’etat”. The allegations have lead to months of political uncertainty across the nation, resulting last month in the indefinite suspension of parliament.

Less then 24 hours after welcoming the MDP’s decision to suspend ongoing street protests against the government to “facilitate meaningful political dialogue” with the coalition government, the President’s Office yesterday told local media it might reconsider participation in talks following demonstrations held Thursday (August 9) in Hulhumale’.

President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza was quoted by the Sun Online news service as saying that the government’s decision to participate in fresh talks had “to be reconsidered”, alleging the MDP had been directly involved in the protests that reportedly saw offensive language used against the vice president.

Both Abbas and President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad were not responding at time of press.

Thursday’s demonstrations were directly targeted at a visit by Vice President Deen, who was in Hulhumale’ to attend the opening ceremony of the State Trading Organisation (STO)’s new futsal field.

Police spokesman Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that eight people had been arrested in relation to the incident, with seven having been released at the time of press. Haneef said that the suspect’s had been arrested over charges including blocking the vice-president’s car, and “disobeying and disturbing” police as they performed their legal duties.

However, MDP MP Ghafoor claimed that the party had not been involved in organising demonstrations against the vice president, contending that the reaction of Abbas in local media had been a “knee-jerk response to a minor incident”.

“I have read comments about this in the media, but we have not heard anything official from the government on [stopping talks],” he said. “It appears that a sporadic incident has been used as an excuse by some to criticise us because of a couple of angry activists. We have stopped our street demonstrations as we promised, but individuals will still get upset in the current political environment.”

Ghafoor added that he believed it was unlikely that the actions of independent demonstrators would set back wider-efforts to attempt to find a resolution the present impasse between the MDP and government-aligned parties.

“This is not a culture we have had before 2008, but people are now free to come out and speak their mind about concerns they have,” he said. “This just appears to be people being over-sensitive regarding minor incidents.”

Demonstration concerns

The unity government’s insistence on an end to the MDP’s continued demonstrations before discussions could resume had been outlined in the agenda of the all-party roadmap talks. Of a six point agenda agreed upon by participants, public order and stability were one of the first points to be addressed.

However, during the most recent round of all-party talks in June, the list of demands presented to the MDP by government-aligned groups were claimed to be lacking in seriousness. The 30-point list presented to the opposition party included demands to desist from using “black magic” and “erotic tools” as well as walking in groups of more than ten.

Since that time, the MDP has continued regular demonstrations, particularly in the capital Male’, where consecutive nights of protests in July resulted in violent clashes between protesters, security forces and journalists.

The immediate aim of inter-party discussions, however, would be to agree upon an arrangement which might allow the reopening of the People’s Majlis, which was suspended last month after angry confrontations between opposing MPs and the Speaker of the House.

The Speaker Abdulla Shahid invoked his authority to suspend sessions indefinitely if he felt dialogue between party leaders was necessary to restore calm to proceedings. Government-aligned parties have been critical of the role they allege MDP MPs played in stymieing the work of the People’s Majlis.


MDP would consider halting protests for “substantial” high-level talks

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said it will not rule out halting ongoing protests to facilitate fresh “high-level talks” with its political rivals, but would only do so should it see  “substantial” commitments from government-aligned parties.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s government meanwhile stated it will not consider reconvening talks between senior politicians and former President Mohamed Nasheed until he ceases the alleged “harassment” and “threats of violence” against its ministers.

Proposed “Roadmap” talks were launched in February with the stated aim of overcoming the political deadlock resulting from the controversial transfer of power that brought President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan into office. Former President Nasheed and his party  continue to allege that Waheed came to power in  a “coup d’etat” – and that the government is illegitimate.

Convenor of the roadmap talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, on July 12 announced that a series of “high-level” discussions will be held between President Waheed and the leaders of the country’s man political parties after 16 previous attempts had resulted in “no breakthrough.”

The last round of the UN-mediated talks, held at Vice President Waheed Deen’s Bandos Island Resort and Spa in early June, collapsed after parties aligned with the government presented the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with a list of 30 demands.

The list included calls that the MDP “stop practising black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today that while the party’s protests that it maintains are “largely peaceful” were “totally within” the law, it would not be a “big deal” to stop the street demonstrations if it would help secure meaningful talks.

However, Ghafoor claimed that the party was ultimately sceptical over the commitment of government-aligned parties to ensure “substantial” and “worthwhile” dialogue.

“We have always maintained dialogue is the best way to proceed in the current situation,” he claimed. “What we have seen in the last party talks has just been ridiculous demands such as the issues about keeping crows and using black magic. We found out as a party that we are not dealing with serious people.”

According to documents said to have been provided to the international community by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former President Nasheed has over the last week offered to stop ongoing street demonstrations to facilitate high level talks – but only if certain conditions are met by his political rivals.

The conditions stated in the document include addressing possible outcomes of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) presently investigating the events during and leading up to February’s transfer of power.  The CNI has been given a deadline of the end of August to concludes its report.

The MDP is also said to have requested allowing only the participation of parties with an elected parliamentary representative to attend the talks.  Such a condition would effectively rule out the participation of President Waheed.

Speaking to Minivan News today, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza claimed that the government had been attempting since February 16 this year to hold high-level talks with the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to facilitate talks on resolving the current political situation.

However, he denied that the government had called for an end to the MDP’s ongoing protests, claiming instead that it was more concerned by the alleged “unlawful” behaviour of opposition supporters such as in the “harassment” of government officials during demonstrations in recent weeks.

“There has been harassment on several occasions of late by the MDP,” he claimed. “The government will not yield to threats of violence.”

Abbas claimed that in negotiating over continuing potential talks, the government had also refused to negotiate regarding addressing any potential outcomes of the CNI.

“Nasheed has continued to insist on doing this,” he claimed. “But we have said that we refuse to interfere with the country’s judiciary.   We have been clear that we will not negotiate on the CNI or do anything that may compromise its work.”

In a statement released last week, the government called for Nasheed and his supporters to stop “violent activities” in order to ensure any high-level  talks could conclude “fruitfully”.

“Former President Nasheed’s supporters have been agitating and protesting on the streets at times with violent incidences for the past two weeks,” the statement read. “He and his supporters have been harassing government officials for the past five months indulging in violent attacks including the burning of the gender minister’s car, a police motorcycle and a newly constructed police building.”

Foreign Ministry view

According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing, discussions took place last Thursday, (July 26) between Ahmed Mujuthaba, President Waheed and UN Resident Coordinator Andrew Cox to convey a message that Nasheed would conditionally agree to end the MDP protests.

According to the document, the conditions set by the MDP required high level talks to resume at the “highest Level”, with the discussions taking into account the outcomes of the CNI’s findings on top of the existing six-point agenda set for the all-party talks.

The government was said to have responded the following day with five conditions that included:

  • All talks are held in the Maldives
  • The nine parties previously involved in the talks should continue to take part
  • Participants must be at the level of party deputy leaders or higher
  • The previous six-point agenda remained in place without adding the CNI to the discussion or anything that might “influence” its conclusions
  • The MDP agree in writing not to continue street protests for a “period of time” before talks resume

The briefing document claimed the MDP responded by calling on the government to only allow political parties with a parliamentary representation in the discussions. The opposition party said it would then put a stop to ongoing protests that have taken place over the last few weeks once talks continued.

The opposition party also said to have called for any agreed agenda to include the outcomes of the CNI.

By Sunday (July 29), the government was claimed to have responded that talks between the MDP and coalition parties be conducted on the basis of a “two-track” system based around political discussions and parliament.  The government also called for all parties including the MDP to refrain from holding protests.

The proposal was also said to have called for the agenda on the previous all party talks to remain unchanged, with the MDP addressing any issues regarding the CNI through parliament.