MDP agrees to begin talks without Nasheed

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has decided to begin talks with the government without former President Mohamed Nasheed as a representative.

The government had rejected Nasheed as the MDP’s representative on the grounds that the opposition leader is serving a 13-year jail sentence. He was transferred to house arrest this week.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told the press today that the party’s national executive committee decided to proceed with the talks last night with the expectation that Nasheed will be allowed to participate at a later stage.

“The decision was made after discussions with Nasheed as well. He did not want to be a barrier to discussions between the party and the government,” said Fahmy.

Parliamentary group leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih will be the sole MDP representative at talks.

Fahmy said the MDP’s main demand is the withdrawal of charges against opposition politicians and supporters arrested from protests.

Some 400 people have been arrested since Nasheed’s arrest in February and many face criminal prosecution, he said.

Fahmy said the charges against opposition protesters was a major concern for the party.

The opposition MPs’ backing of a constitutional amendment to set an age limit of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice presidency yesterday was widely perceived to be part of a deal made in exchange for Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest for two months.

Fahmy said at today’s press conference that despite “misgivings,” the MDP parliamentary group had voted in favour of the amendment as a confidence building measure ahead of the talks with the government.

“We believe compromise is a very important part in a democracy,” he said.

President Yameen had called for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties last month to resolve the ongoing political crisis, two weeks after a historic anti-government demonstration on May 1.

The MDP had proposed Solih, Nasheed, and chairperson Ali Waheed as the party’s representatives. Waheed is currently overseas in the UK along with Jumhooree Party (JP) deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and council member Sobah Rasheed.

The JP leaders have been charged with terrorism over the May Day mass protest. The pair, along with Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, are accused of inciting violence in their speeches during the rally.

Meanwhile, Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef said today that the former president believes he will able to contest in the 2018 presidential election.

Latheef also said that he expected a positive development in Nasheed’s case at the UN working group on arbitrary detention in September. Nasheed’s legal team had filed a petition urging the working group to declare his detention unlawful and arbitrary.

Opposition politicians are describing Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest this week and the vote for the constitutional amendment as a first step towards political reconciliation between Yameen’s government and the opposition.

The ruling coalition is seeking to replace vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed with 33-year-old tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Before yesterday’s vote, pro-government MPs had publicly accused Jameel of disloyalty and incompetence. A Progressive Party of Maldives MP called on Jameel last night to resign or face impeachment.

Opposition politicians and some media outlets have meanwhile claimed that President Abdulla Yameen is seeking a loyal deputy ahead of a life-threatening surgery. The government, however continues to deny rumors over the president’s health.



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.



Adhaalth Party meets President Yameen to share concerns with political situation

Religious conservative Adhaalath Party met President Abdulla Yameen today to share the party’s concerns regarding the current political situation in the Maldives.

Speaking to reporters after the two-hour long meeting at the President’s Office, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla refused to reveal the concerns shared with the president at the meeting, where Adhaalath leadership members including Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem and the party’s Vice President Dr Mauroof Hussein also took part.

Imran has been critical of the government on social media regarding the criminal prosecutions of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

In a tweet following today’s meeting, Imran assured that the Adhaalath Party would not make a “financial deal”.

“I am certain before and now as well that Nazim was framed,” he tweeted.

In previous tweets, Imran said former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom should be “ashamed” of the government’s treatment of Gasim Ibrahim as the Jumhooree Party (JP) leader decided to back President Yameen in the 2013 presidential election run-off after Gayoom “pleaded” with Gasim.

After yesterday’s presidential address – delivered in the face of protests by opposition MPs – Imran tweeted: “President Yameen is now feeling the bitterness of dissolving of the coalition that brought [him] to power.”

A day before Imran tweeted: “Adhaalath Party will come out to protest when there’s no other way.”