Efforts to put Maldives on CMAG agenda unsuccessful, says foreign ministry

The Maldives is not on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) despite “efforts made by some of the most powerful countries in the Commonwealth to place the Maldives on the group’s agenda and harm the nation,” the foreign ministry has said.

Some Commonwealth members have been pushing for the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm to assess alleged violations of the organisation’s principles by the Maldives following the imprisonment of opposition politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Dunya Maumoon gave a briefing to the CMAG Ministers today about the political situation in the Maldives and reiterated that there is no serious or persistent violation of Commonwealth political values in the Maldives,” the foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It added that Dunya also stressed “the progress that the government has achieved in defusing political tensions in the country” and assured the Maldives’ commitment to “constructively engage with the Commonwealth”.

Signs of an end to a six-month long political crisis are emerging. Nasheed was transferred to house arrest in late June after the opposition backed a constitutional amendment to allow President Abdulla Yameen to replace his deputy.

At a second meeting between representatives of the government and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party last night, home minister Umar Naseer said the government is open to exploring avenues to release jailed politicians and withdraw charges against opposition supporters.

Foreign minister Dunya said last week that  the Maldives “will seriously consider its membership in the Commonwealth” if the country is placed on the CMAG agenda for a second time.

Meanwhile, former foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has said that the CMAG only granted the Maldives further time to “sort out [the] mess Maldives is in.”

The UN special rapporteur on Iran also said that the group will convene again after the UN working group on arbitrary detention declares Nasheed’s imprisonment unlawful.

The opposition leader was found guilty of terrorism in March over the military’s detention of a judge during his tenure. The 19-day terrorism trial was criticised by foreign governments, the UN, and international human rights organisations over its apparent lack of due process.

The former president’s international legal team filed a petition at the UN working group in late April. The government has been asked to respond before the first week of July.

In a conversation last week with Commonwealth’s secretary general Kamalesh Sharma, Dunya said there are no serious violations in the Maldives and criticised Sharma’s alleged failure to follow due process before considering action.

The MDP meanwhile called on the Maldivian government to “stop being so arrogant.”

“Having to leave the Commonwealth for not abiding by its principles only isolate the Maldives from the rest of the world. And it will not be very healthy for the Maldives, but detrimental,” said MP Imthiyaz Fahmy.

CMAG agenda

The Maldives was placed on the CMAG agenda from March 2012 – March 2013 after President Nasheed resigned in the wake of a violent police and military mutiny. He later alleged he had been ousted in a coup d’état.

But a Commonwealth-backed inquiry found the transfer of power to be constitutional.

The Maldives was previously placed on the CMAG’s agenda “on an unfair basis, based on false allegations, and the country’s economy and democratic governance suffered significantly as a result,” Dunya said.

She also said Sharma had not raised questions over violations in the Maldives, or extended assistance for redress as required by the Commonwealth’s rules.

In mid-June Canada called on CMAG to “urgently put the deteriorating situation in the Maldives on its formal agenda.”

Dunya urged Sharma to take note of the positive changes in the Maldives in the last few weeks. She also accused Canada of exerting undue influence in the Commonwealth as a donor country.


MDP slams foreign minister for giving false information regarding Chinese silk route

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has criticised the foreign minister for providing false information while responding to questions put forward in the Majlis regarding the Maldives’ participation in China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative.

“The party severely condemns foreign minister Dunya Maumoon for intentionally providing false information about Maldives and its diplomatic relations with other countries,” read an MDP press statement released yesterday (November 8).

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jingping has called on the Maldives “to get actively involved” in the creation of a maritime trade route linking China to the east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has today released a statement seeking to clarify any confusion caused by these remarks, saying that Dunya had “noted her concern if her choice of words had led to any confusion”.

When asked about the potential impact of the scheme on India-Maldives relations, Dunya told the parliament last week that India had also discussed participating during the recent state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinpeng.

However, Indian Diplomats in Malé promptly refuted the claim, releasing a statement containing comments from the Indian External Affairs Ministry which denied such talks having taken place.

“[T]his matter was neither raised, nor discussed, nor is it reflected in any of the outcomes of the visit of President Xi Jinping to India,” the ministry official told Indian media on Thursday (November 6).

The Maldives foreign ministry today said that Dunya had mentioned various discussions having taken place between India and China “on a wide range of issues” as an example of the excellent relations between the two nations.

The MDP also noted that it was “shameful” that the Indian Government had to re-clarify the public after “lies” from the foreign minister, and warned the government that such actions will weaken Maldives’ relations with other countries.

Fears have been expressed by the opposition regarding the potential for the government’s willingness to participate in the scheme to damage relations with regional neighbours.

The party also called for the resignation of Dunya, stating that intentionally providing false information to the parliament was a crime under the Maldivian Constitution.

The Chinese president travelled to India after having visited the Maldives where numerous MoUs were signed between the two governments – most notably agreements promoting the Malé-Hulhulé bridge and the redevelopment of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

The new INIA agreement comes while previous developer, India’s GMR, waits to hear how much they are to receive in damages after a Singapore arbitration court ruled their prematurely terminated contract with the Government of Maldives to have been “valid and binding”.

As Chinese companies pledge assistance with major infrastructure projects, Indian companies continue to fall foul of the Maldives’ changing political currents.

Meanwhile, China’s rising economic presence in the Indian Ocean region has stoked concerns in New Delhi that China is creating a “string of pearls” encircling India, including Chinese investments in ports and other key projects in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

*This article was amended shortly after publication to include an additional statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Indian External Affairs Minister meets with Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon last night (November 3) during her transit halt in the Maldives on her travels back to India from Mauritius.

At the meeting both Ministers discussed matters of bilateral importance, including upcoming projects in the Maldives to be executed with India’s assistance.

Ms Swaraj also extended Victory Day greetings to all Maldivians – celebrated annually to commemorate the heroes who defended the country during the failed coup attempt in November 3, 1988 – while reiterating India’s strong commitment towards the prosperity, stability, and security of the Maldives.

India was the first to respond during the attack on the capital Malé by deploying 1500 paratroopers and 3 warships after a distress call from the then President Maumoon Abdulla Gayoom asking for assistance from India, UK, and the USA.


Government reaffirms commitment to protect migrant workers

Speaking at the ‘Workshop on Migration Processes and Policies in the Maldives’ held yesterday (August 21) in Malé, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon emphasised the importance of addressing the gaps in the law and issues in its implementation.

The minister reiterated the commitment of President Abdulla Yameen, to address the issues and challenges with regard to migration management in the Maldives.

She thanked the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Development Fund for its assistance in protecting the rights of migrant workers and welcomed the recommendations detailed in the initial findings report, “A Review of Migration Management Processes and Policies in the Maldives”.

Ahmed Amjad of the Friendship Association of India and Maldives told Minivan News that the seminars hosted by IOM in January had been very effective.

Speaking at the event, Dunya stressed the importance of striking the right balance between excessive permeability of the borders, with excessively regulated migrant labour markets and having safeguards to prevent exploitation of the system by both employers and migrant workers.

Furthermore, Dunya emphasised the importance of distinguishing illegal migrants and undocumented workers, and orienting policies accordingly.

Highlighting the fact that the majority of migrant workers in the Maldives are from Bangladesh, Dunya stated that the study tour to Bangladesh, conducted in May this year for Maldivian Government officials, contributed immensely towards the work of the government with regards to migration management.

Earlier this year the Department of Immigration and Emigration deported 6,400 migrant workers between January and July and was holding 159 workers in detention as of July 22.

According to the department, barring a handful arrested on criminal offenses, all were undocumented – some having worked illegally for up to 12 years.

The current special operation to deport undocumented workers was announced on April 24, with Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim – also in charge of the immigration department – promising “the whole [of] Malé will be cleaned [of migrant workers]” within three weeks.

The 2014 US State Department’s Trafficking In Persons Report highlighted lack of procedures to identify victims among vulnerable populations, and inadequate training for officials.

The report stated that “the government penalized some victims for offenses committed as a result of being trafficked and also deported thousands of migrants without adequately screening for indications of forced labor.”


Habitual protests “hindering Maldives development as a modern democracy”: CNI Advisers

International advisors to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) – Judicial Advisor Sir Bruce Robertson and Legal Advisor Professor John Packer – have defended the commission’s independence and professionalism in the wake of criticism from the MDP’s representative.

Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed resigned from the commission the evening prior to report’s publication, expressing concern that the CNI had experienced the withholding of evidence, non-cooperation from crucial witnesses, non-examination of witnesses, witnesses being intimidated or obstructed, testimonies and evidence that was not reviewed, and misleading translations.

“Four of the five members acted at all times with independence and integrity in carrying out the important task for the future of the nation,” stated Robertson and Packer, in an appendix to the report. “The other member was not at all times willing or able to act independently and resigned the evening before the report was submitted and published.”

Saeed’s resignation created “discord and mistrust” in a community “in desperate need of reconciliation”, the pair claimed, defending the professionalism of the CNI’s methods.

“We have seen nothing but objective and independent professionalism in the institution. The Commission has sensibly and sensitively heard all who wanted to make a contribution. It has firmly and fairly held participants to telling what they had heard and seen for themselves and deflected them from conjecture and speculation without facts.”

“The nation has been well served by the Commissioners and any assertions of bias or lack of objectivity levelled against those remaining have no justification. They reflect badly on those making unfounded allegations,” Packer and Robertson stated.

“For the evidence collecting exercise to have value all witnesses had to be questioned and challenged about their recollections of events and the basis for them. Equally they had to be confronted with alternative evidence so they had the opportunity to comment on it. Some found this process unsettling. Many were familiar and only comfortable with making assertions and not being required to justify or explain how they had reached their view,” they noted.

As the evidence unfolded, the advisors said they observed “a national obsession with street demonstrating at an alarming level”.

“Some would want to call [this] an example of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly. In reality it is rather more bully-boy tactics involving actual and threatened intimidation by a violent mob,” they stated.

“This perpetual behaviour is sapping public life and hindering the Maldives’ development as a modern democracy.”

The evidence revealed longstanding tensions in the Constitution as a result of a Presidential system being “grafted” on to a parliamentary system.

“The creation of independent commissions will only be the safety valve intended when they are adequately resourced and fulfil their mandates in a timely and decisive manner,” they observed.

Furthermore, “Fundamental to the operation of a modern democratic society is the existence of an operating and absolutely independent judiciary which has the confidence of the entire community. Radical action is required to breathe utility into much of the state framework, especially to ensure the proper administration of justice. This cannot wait.”

Dunya writes to McKinnon

The comments from the international advisers followed a letter sent to Commonwealth Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon., daughter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

In the letter, obtained by Minivan News, Dunya advises McKinnon that Saeed had “put the Commission’s work at risk by publicly questioning the credibility of its draft report, three days before its scheduled publication.

“He has also questioned the integrity of the highly respected senior judge from Singapore, Justice Selvam, the Co-Chair of the Commission, who was recruited by the Commonwealth. This is a disturbing development that could inflame the already heated political environment in the Maldives,” Dunya wrote.

She informed McKinnon that it was “time the Commonwealth puts into perspective the pattern of behavior by former President Nasheed since he resigned from the office of President, and ponders the credibility of his accusations and claims.”

“The government is committed to bringing stability into the country and cultivating the values of democracy in the Maldives,” she claimed.

“You may recall that while accepting Mr Saeed’s name to the CNI, the government made it very clear its strong reservations about Mr Saeed’s impartiality and independence because of his close associations with the MDP.

“We request you call upon former President Nasheed and his supporters in the MDP, as well as Mr Saeed, to stop their intimidatory actions and let the work of the CNI proceed to a successful conclusion. The Commonwealth’s valuable role in resolving the political tensions in the maldives is a critical one, and that role should also be seen to be fair as well,” Dunya wrote.

“Otherwise there is a risk that the country’s young democracy might be pushed into a steep decline where only chaos will reign.”

Former President Nasheed on Friday accepted the CNI’s report, subject to Saeed’s reservations, however he observed that the report had effectively set a legal precedent under Maldivian law for the overthrow of an elected government through police or mob action.

This, he said, left the Maldives “in a very awkward, and in many ways, very comical” situation, “where toppling the government by brute force is taken to be a reasonable course of action. All you have to do find is a narrative for that course of action.”

Minivan News is currently waiting for a response from MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.


Maldives “needs radical changes”: UN Human Rights Committee

The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has recommended “radical changes” to Maldivian law to ensure compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These changes include the abolition of the death penalty, compensation for “systematic and systemic torture,” withdrawal of reservations to the ICCPR’s Article 18 regarding freedom of religion and belief, and reforming the country’s judiciary.

Following a “Incendiary” session focused on the state of human rights in the Maldives on July 12 and 13, the committee published a preliminary statement calling on the Maldives to “be serious about bringing itself into compliance with all aspects” of the ICCPR as a “critical step” to respect and protect human rights of all the people in the Maldives.

The Human Rights Committee will make a final report at the end of its session on July 27.

The Maldivian delegation to the UNHRC was headed by Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel, a former Justice Minister during the 30 year rule of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and co-author of a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’, published in January 2012.

Dr Jameel was accompanied by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon – Gayoom’s daughter – as well as the Maldives’ Permanent Representative in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam.

Article 18

The UNHRC raised concern over the state’s reservation to Article 18 regarding freedom of religion and belief, claiming the reservation “implicates a host of intertwining social, political, and cultural issues” which will not be resolved until the state agrees to withdraw this reservation.

During the committee session, Dunya had said the Maldives did not plan to withdraw the reservation to Article 18 as the Maldives Constitution stipulated that rights and freedoms be interpreted according to Islamic Sharia.

However, the statement noted that allowing Islamic tenets of the Constitution to definitively supersede the human rights enshrined in the ICCPR “will mean a continued lack of protection for the human rights of the people of the Maldives.”

The Maldives delegation had stressed that the country was a homogeneous society and spoke one language and followed one religion, adding there was therefore no debate in Maldivian society regarding the removal of the provision relating to freedom of religion.

“This is not dogmatic government policy or preference, but rather a reflection of the deep societal belief that the Maldives always has been and always should be a 100 percent Muslim nation. Laws, like government, should be based on the will of the people,” Dunya said.

“Systematic and systemic torture”

Incidents of torture in the Maldives “appear systematic and systemic,” the UNHRC statement noted, and expressed “grave concern” about the low number of cases that have undergone investigation.

The committee has urged the Maldives to set up an independent Commission of Inquiry to conduct criminal investigations and ensure compensation for all victims of torture.

The panel also drew on a report submitted by anti-torture NGO REDRESS, containing testimonies of 28 victims of torture while in state custody.

“Forms of torture and ill-treatment included the use of suspension, lengthy use of stocks, being beaten with fists and bars, kicked, blindfolded, handcuffed, the dislocation of joints and breaking of bones, being forced to roll and squat on sharp coral, being drowned or forced into the sea, being put in a water tank, being burned, having bright lights shone in eyes, being left outside for days while tied or handcuffed to a tree, being covered in sugar water or leaves to attract ants and goats, and in one case being tied to a crocodile’s cage. Sexual assault and humiliation was also routinely used. Many testimonies suggest the only limit to the torture and ill-treatment imposed was the imagination of those whose control they were under,” a UNHRC panel member read at last week’s session.

“Surely this is something that refers to before 2008,” the panel member stated, “but the [present government] has a responsibility to pursue and investigate and bring to justice if these [allegations] are indeed correct. If there is an atmosphere of impunity regarding torture, I would offer that the present situation would not be treated differently by those who would want to violate the office they have, and abuse those under their care, or those going peacefully about their business.”

In response, Jameel said any citizen could bring their grievances before the judiciary and said any question of compensation could jeopardize the Maldives’ state budget.

Death Penalty

The UNHRC has asked the Maldivian state to enact legislation to officially abolish the death penalty. “The state itself has admitted that capital punishment does not deter crime,” the statement noted.

Jameel himself has previously stated the government was prepared to implement the death penalty following the murder of lawyer Ahmed Najeeb. Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor and the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz have publicly endorsed their support for implementing capital punishment to deter increasing crime rates.

However, Jameel told the UNHRC no official government discussion existed on the matter.

“This year alone we have had seven murders in a country of 350,000. The country is really struggling to address this surge of crime. It is in the light of these occurrences that this debate has occurred. There is no official government discussion, but there are scattered debates across every section of society,” Jameel said.

Judiciary Reform

The committee is “deeply concerned about the state of the judiciary in the Maldives,” the statement noted.

“The state has admitted that this body’s independence is seriously compromised.  The Committee has said the judiciary is desperately in need of more serious training, and higher standards of qualification,” the statement read.

The Supreme Court in particular needed “radical readjustment,” the committee said.

“As 6 of 7 Supreme Court judges are experts in Sharia law and nothing more, this court in particular is in need of radical readjustment.  This must be done to guarantee just trials, and fair judgments for the people of Maldives.”

A panel member during the UNHRC session also noted the “troubling role of the judiciary at the center” of the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

“The judiciary – which is admittedly in serious need of training and qualifications – is yet seemingly playing a role leading to the falling of governments,” he observed.


Dunya Maumoon commits Maldives to CMAG recommendations, tells BBC no elections “in foreseeable future”

State Minister for Foreign Affairs and daughter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Dunya Maumoon, has met Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma and reaffirmed the Maldives’ government’s “commitment to working closely with the Commonwealth to implement the recommendations made by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)”, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website, Dunya and Sharma also “spoke of the technical assistance the Commonwealth was providing to the Independent Commission of Enquiry.”

The Commonweath in February suspended the Maldives from CMAG, the organisation’s human rights and democracy arm, and called on President Waheed and former President Nasheed “to commence an immediate dialogue, without preconditions, to agree on a date for early elections, which should take place within this calendar year.”

Despite the statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website apparently in support of CMAG’s recommendations, Dunya told the BBC that elections could not be held “in the foreseeable future”.

Institutions such as the judiciary, the election commission and the human rights commission needed to be strengthened before a vote could take place, she claimed, Dr Waheed’s commission of national inquiry had to submit its report, and the constitution needed to be amended, she said.

“We are open to discussions about when elections should take place, but the opposition is not interested in talking to us about the future of the country,” Dunya alleged.

Former Maldives High Commissioner to the UK, Farah Faizal, told the BBC that calling for institutions to be strengthened before elections were held was  “disingenuous” as the Maldives had successfully held free and fair presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in the last three years.

The Commonwealth was strongly criticised by several Maldivian politicians last month after the organisation issued a statement expressing concern at the lack of progress made towards resolving the country’s political crisis.

Despite welcoming some of CMAG’s findings, Dhunya herself accused the international organisation of “showing bias” by calling for early elections, that she alleged served to promote the interests of specific parties.

President Waheed’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza also told Minivan News that although the government was not currently looking to re-assess the country’s role as a member of the intergovernmental organisation, it was concerned over the language used in a statement by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on Friday.

“The government is concerned at the language that has been used by the Commonwealth [in the latest statement] and we condemn it. The foreign minister has conveyed this as well,” he said. “If this language continues, we will look to consider our position [in the Commonwealth].”

Speaking during her UK visit, Dunya thanked the Commonwealth Secretary General for the appointment of the Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon.

“The Government viewed the appointment of Right Honourable Sir Donald McKinnon as an opportunity to strengthen its democratic institutions; with such a distinguished background in diplomacy, we worked closely with Sir Donald, benefiting from his expertise.” she said.

The United States announced in a press conference held in Male’ on Thursday that it was working alongside international partners including the Commonwealth to promote free and fair elections, and pledged US$500,000 in technical assistance that would be “available from July 2012”.

But MDP supporter and former Maldives High Commissioner to London Farah Faizal told the BBC that the current Maldives government was illegal.

“If they wanted to get rid of the government they should have used constitutional and lawful means to do so rather than use the army and police to stage a coup,” she said.

She said that the commission of inquiry set up by the government was a “red herring” because it is not impartial and is led by a former minister who for 19 years served under the government of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – Ms Maumoon’s father – which she said had imprisoned Mr Nasheed 12 times.

Ms Faizal also said that the government’s argument that it needed to strengthen the country’s institutions of state was “disingenuous” because presidential and parliamentary elections were held without any problems in 2008 and 2009.


UN human rights trust fund to help small island states

The UN Human Rights Council has established a trust fund to help small island states and Least Developed Countries to more effectively engage with and benefit from the international human rights system, the Foreign Ministry has stated, crediting the Maldives, Morocco and Mauritius for securing the fund.

The UN resolution establishing the Fund was adopted by consensus and with 111 cosponsors – a record number for a UN Human Rights Council resolution, the ministry noted in a statement.

Introducing the motion, Iruthisham Adam, Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the UN in Geneva, noted the severe financial, human and technical capacity constraints facing small island states, “constraints which prevent them from benefiting fully from the international human rights system.”

She noted that the new Trust Fund would help level the playing field and enable SIDS “to take their rightful place at the very centre of Human Rights Council debates and mechanisms”.

The fund’s activities will include fellowships and financial support for junior staff to attend three month work placements at their ministries in Geneva, travel support to help foreign ministry staff participate in UN Human Rights Council sessions, and capacity building for diplomats in international human rights law.

Daughter of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and newly-appointed State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon, said: “We hope this new UN Trust Fund will help improve the capacity of the Maldives and other SIDS to participate fully in the international human rights system and to more effectively implement international human rights obligations.”


MDP dismisses reports of referendum, reiterates call for Waheed’s resignation

The MDP have refuted claims within some local media that former President Mohamed Nasheed is seeking a public referendum over the legitimacy of the curent government headed by Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

While the constitution does grant the President and the Majlis to call public referendums on “issues of national importance”, MDP spokesperson Hamed Abdul Ghafoor assured Minivan News that this was not the MDP’s current policy and that reports suggesting otherwise were inaccurate.

Speaking last night at the conclusion of a short visit to Sri Lanka, Nasheed reiterated calls for President Waheed to step down as the best solution to the constitutional impasse in the country that has seen ongoing protests and calls from international bodies such as the Commonwealth for early elections.

“If the present President steps down immediately, the Speaker of Parliament can take over, and hold an election within two months,” said Nasheed.

The Maldivian Democratic Party’s calls for an early election after what it saw as the illegitimate removal of Nasheed have been met with sympathetic noises from the current President, who has repeatedly claimed powerlessness to the election date bring forward by any more than 120 days.

Instead he has pointed towards the People’s Majlis as the institution capable of amending the constitution. Additionally, it has been pointed out that a constitutional amendment would be necessary to begin a new five-year term after any early poll – the alternative being to have two elections in 18 months.

The MDP has been calling for an early election since Nasheed’s controversial “resignation” from office. Nasheed claims he was forced to resign under duress as part of a coup d’etat”, sponsored by mutinous elements of the police and military alongside opposition politicians and businessmen.

Mirroring Nasheed’s visit to Sri Lanka, Dunya Maumoon, daughter of former President Maumoon Gayoom, and current State Minister for foreign affairs, made clear the difficulty of the ”catch-22” situation when she spoke with the Sunday Times.

“The MDP says they are not going to let anything proceed unless a date is given for an election. We are adamant that they don’t bully us by holding on to that election date,” explained Dunya.

On Nasheed’s first trip abroad since leaving office, he courted senior diplomats and the press in Colombo in order to build pressure on the current government to accede to the global demands for early elections.


Nasheed’s suggestion comes at a time when alternative methods to resolve the impasse continue to falter. The government was reported yesterday to have refused to continue dialogue with the MDP whilst it carried out what it deemed “terrorist” attacks.

President’s Office Spokesan Abbas Adil Riza believed that some of Nasheed’s discussions whilst in Colombo were intended to build pressure on the government to release those arrested during recent unrest.

“MDP is trying to label the arrested as political prisoners. But the government will not agree to discussions if the MDP preconditions the release of the perpetrators arrested during the recent acts of violence in the country,” Abbas is reported to have said.

The opening of the People’s Majlis last Monday saw renewed violence on the streets of Male’ which prompted the security forces’ removal of the MDP’s ‘Justice Square’ at Lonuziyaaraiy Kohlu. Police Superintendent (SP) Ahmed Mohamed stated at the time that the raid was deemed necessary due to the suspicion that illegal activities were being planned and committed at the camp.

The ensuing court case to determine the legality of this seizure continues this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the MDP has publicly condemned all acts of violence, in particular those targeting police officers, which have seen four law enforcement officials hospitalised in the past week.

The eventual opening of parliament on Monday represented the attainment of one of the seven points on the agenda identified in the all party ‘roadmap’ talks.

While this may have brought hopes of some light at the end of the tunnel, the fractious manner of the inaugural speech; President Waheed struggled to make himself heard over heckling MPs, suggests that its record for poor productivity may continue.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, shortly after the event, stated his doubts that the Majlis would be able to bring forward elections in the way his party desired.

“I don’t think it will be possible through the Majlis,” Fahmy said. “A lot of MPs in the parliament supported the coup.”

The intransigence of the largest party could limit the progress of talks in the Majlis and the alleged refusal of the government to continue dialogue with the MDP hints that the all-party talks as a forum for progressive debate may have again broken down once more.

It was a failure to successfully open the Majlis on March 1 amidst MDP protests that saw a number of political bodies, including the DRP and PPM, to walk away from the all-party talks designed to provide a solution to the stalemate. The opening of the Majlis was a condition required by some attendees to facilitate the resumption of these negotiations.