MDP proposes imprisoned ex-president to represent party in talks

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has proposed imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed, chairperson Ali Waheed and MP Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed Solih as representatives for talks with the government.

The main opposition party’s national council adopted a resolution today to accept the government’s calls for dialogue to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

“The [MDP] believes that the anxiety and distress in the country can be resolved by all the opposition parties sitting down at the table for discussions with the government,” reads the resolution.

President Abdulla Yameen’s proposed agenda for talks focuses on three aspects: political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary and legal system and political party participation in economic and social development

However, the government has ruled out negotiations over the release Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, insisting the president does not have the constitutional authority to release convicts before the appeal process is exhausted.

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

However, Muaz told Haveeru before the resolution was passed that the government will go ahead with the talks even if the MDP declines the president’s offer.

During the national council debate on the resolution, MP Eva Abdulla stressed the importance of talks involving all political parties, including the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

“MDP is the first party that called to solve the political crisis. So we are happy the government took the initiative to hold talks and we accept it. But we want to hold the discussions together, not separately as the government has suggested,” she said.

President Yameen had sent invitations to the three allied opposition parties separately and assigned two ministerial teams for the talks.

Eva also argued that the agenda for the talks should be up for discussion.

“We are not going to discussions to talk only about what the government wants. The discussions will include what the government wants, but also what we want. The agenda of the talks also should be set at the discussions,” she said.

Eva also suggested MDP should not join the discussions without the proposed delegation: “I don’t think there is anything we can solve without the delegation MDP proposed.”

Nasheed is currently serving a 13-year jail term at the high-security Maafushi prison following his conviction on terrorism charges in March.

The MDP has maintained that the trial was a politically motivated attempt to bar the party’s president and presumptive candidate from the 2018 presidential election.

Foreign governments and international bodies including the UN have criticized the trial for apparent lack of due process, while the EU parliament has called for Nasheed’s immediate release.

MDP chairperson Ali Waheed was meanwhile released from police custody this afternoon. He had been held in remand detention since his arrest in the wake of the mass anti-government demonstration on May 1.

Police have concluded an investigation on charges of inciting violence and forwarded a case against Waheed to the prosecutor general’s office. A seven-day extension of detention granted by the criminal court expired today.

While the Jumhooree Party (JP) has accepted the invitation for talks, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party proposed its detained president, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, among the party’s representatives.

Imran was also arrested on May 1 and remains in police custody.

Speaking at today’s emergency meeting of the national council, MP Ibu, MDP parliamentary group leader, noted that the acceptance of the government’s invitation does not mean the party trusts the government.

“We are going to sit down with the government not necessarily because we trust them. We should always learn from what has happened in the past. Recently we saw the Ukrainian government sitting down for talks with Russia despite the distrust,” he said.

Ibu said the planned mass protest for June 12 – organised by the MDP –  is also a call for discussions.

“The June 12 protest is also a symbol of negotiations and talks. So I call on the people of Maldives who support our cause to come and join us in discussions,” he said.

Other members of the national council questioned the “sincerity” of the government’s invitation for talks.

“The deputy leader of JP, Ameen Ibrahim, was set free by the High Court but the state once again appealed his case in the apex court to detain him again. So the intent of the government is questionable,” said MP Rozaina Adam.

Ameen is among the five-member team to represent the Jumhooree Party. Some opposition politicians contend the police’s attempt to detain Ameen is an attempt to prevent him from representing the JP.

The resolution was passed with the support of of 42 members with one vote against.

The dissenting member objected referring to Nasheed as the party’s president, arguing that the government might reject the resolution on the grounds that he no longer holds the post.

In late April, the pro-government majority voted through amendments to the Prison and Parole Act that prohibited inmates from holding high-level posts in political parties.

The revised law effectively stripped Nasheed of the MDP presidency.


MDP launches petition for Nasheed release

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has begun collecting signatures on a petition calling for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The party said the petition will be submitted to President Abdulla Yameen, who is empowered by clemency laws and the constitution to grant pardons.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has set up tables outside its main office on Sosun Magu and in the market area in Male’.

The party also plans to send out teams across the country to collect signatures, and a copy of the petition is available on its website.

Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism last month and sentenced to 13 years in prison. The parliament subsequently voted through an amendment to the Prisons and Parole Act that stripped Nasheed of his leadership position in the MDP.

The amendment said inmates could not fill leadership posts in political parties for the period of their incarceration.

Speaking at a rally on Thursday night, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed claimed Attorney General Mohamed Anil advised parliament that the amendment was unconstitutional.

The chairman of the committee that was reviewing the legislation – ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ibrahim Riza – kept the attorney general’s letter secret from other MPs, Waheed alleged.


Government will ensure Nasheed’s right to appeal conviction, says spokesperson

The government will ensure former President Mohamed Nasheed’s right to appeal his conviction on terrorism charges if he believes the Criminal Court did not follow due process, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has said.

The opposition leader was sentenced to 13 years in jail last night for ordering the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.

“I believe the Criminal Court would have afforded due process in the conduct of Nasheed’s trial. If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz said.

“Nasheed can still appeal at High Court.”

The government has no power over the courts, he added.

“We have a system of separation of powers. In a democracy, the head of state does not interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,” Muaz said.

“Political leaders in other countries, such as Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, have been summoned and tried in court as well.”

Delivering the guilty verdict last night, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed as commander-in-chief ordered the arrest or “forceful abduction” of Judge Abdulla.

Reacting to Nasheed’s conviction, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP “Ibu” Mohamed Solih said today the party would not be disheartened by President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged attempts to imprison his opponents.

“President Yameen is trying to jail his opponents before the next election. But even though Nasheed is convicted he still is the leader of MDP and he will contest in the 2018 presidential elections,” Ibu said on opposition-aligned Raajje TV.

However, Muaz denied that the president wished to prevent political rivals from contesting the 2018 election.

“President Yameen does not want to jail opposition politicians or plunge the country into civil unrest. He has an economic agenda. We respect the court’s verdict.”

Addressing the party’s supporters alongside the parliamentary group leader on Raajje TV, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed meanwhile said the party would do everything in its power to free Nasheed.

“Our main work from now on will be to free President Nasheed. He will come back. So meanwhile stay united, don’t lose hope and pray for him,” Waheed said.

Following Nasheed’s arrest on February 22, MDP supporters have protested every night calling for his release.

Muaz said the government would allow the public to peacefully express their views, but stressed that protests should take place within bounds of the law.

“But we will not allow unrest in the country. Our aim is to establish peace and order in the country. We welcome freedom of expression and assembly, but they must be practiced within the bounds of the constitution. Our appeal to the public is not to disrupt public order,” he said.


Nasheed was charged with “enforced disappearance” under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1990, which carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.

Prior to a hearing on March 9, all four of Nasheed’s lawyers quit in protest of the Criminal Court’s refusal to grant sufficient time to examine the prosecution’s evidence and mount a defence.

The presiding judges had denied the lawyers’ request for adequate time, stating the legal team has had the case documents for three years.

Nasheed was first charged in 2012 with arbitrary detention under article 81 of the penal code, which carries either banishment or a jail term of up to three years.

On February 15, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin withdrew the charges filed at the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court. Nasheed was arrested on February 22 shortly after the PG filed terrorism charges at the Criminal Court.

Meanwhile prominent figures from both the international community and within the country have condemned the Criminal Courts verdict.

Husnu Suood, former judge and Attorney General – who was also a senior member of the team which drafted the anti-terrorism law in 1990 – tweeted: “Mohamed Nasheed is not a terrorist. Whatever act he did was certainly not terrorism. The charge not suitable, the trial was flawed.”

Deputy Attorney General Ahmed Usham also questioned Criminal Courts decision to jail Nasheed.

“Infringing the rights of one person in the name of giving justice to another person is in itself an injustice,” Usham wrote on his Facebook page.

MP Ahmed Mahloof, who was expelled from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) recently after he criticized President Yameen, tweeted: “21 days for Judge Abdulla, 4745 days for President Nasheed. Is this what they call justice? Why not jail all opposition leaders and rule the country.”

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla – who played a pivotal role in the 2012 protests against Nasheed’s administration – tweeted: “Nasheed’s trial was not conducted justly.”


Related to this story

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

Nasheed trial “not free or fair,” says Maldivian Democracy Network

Foreigners cannot meddle in domestic affairs, declares President Yameen

PPM accuses international community of “double standards and hypocrisy” in Nasheed’s trial

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court


MDP reconstitutes 19 ‘shadow’ committees

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has reconstituted 19 ‘shadow’ committees to hold the government accountable.

MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed told the press on Thursday (November 6) that chairpersons and vice chairpersons have been newly elected to head the oversight committees.

The former MP said the leadership would have regular meetings with the shadow committees in the future.

They include committees dealing with international relations, transport, housing, rights, research and policies, elections, organisation, economic affairs, fund raising, fisheries and agriculture, media, membership and campaigns, legal affairs, security, health, education, and employment and social affairs.