No date has been set for President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to participate in all party talks, the government has said, claiming the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) continues to “harass” state officials despite agreements to the contrary.
Speaking following his return from Saudi Arabia, the president spoke with local media about several issues affecting the country, including financial and political stability. He also talked of the likelihood for his participation in talks with key parliamentary and opposition representatives.
The comments were made as the MDP this weekend hit out at the government over accusations it is conducting a string of “seemingly politically motivated charges” to destabilise the party, ahead of the publication of findings by the Committee of National Inquiry (CNI). The CNI was established to investigate the events surrounding February’s controversial transfer of power that brought Dr Waheed into office.
President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza claimed that despite the MDP’s pledge to cease its street protests over the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramazan to facilitate fresh talks, harassment by party members was continuing. Abbas pointed to an attack on two police officers yesterday (August 17), that he alleged that were politically motivated and carried out by MDP members.
Police Spokesperson Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed to Minivan News that attacks on two officers had taken place yesterday evening, but claimed that they were not at present being treated as politically motivated assaults. Investigations are continuing into the matter, Haneef added.
According to police, a group of 20 men reportedly attacked two on duty officers yesterday evening near the Dolphin View Cafe’ in Male’. Two male suspects aged 18 and 19 years of age have been arrested in connection to the incident.
Upon his arrival today at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) in Male’ after representing the Maldives at the fourth extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Conference, President Waheed told local media that the government would not discuss any outcome of the CNI until the body concluded its work later this month.
The CNI is scheduled to publish its report by August 29, on the events leading to Dr Waheed assuming the presidency on February 7. The report will first be made available to the authorities and prosecutor general. The public will be given access to the findings on August 30.
Abbas stressed that the government was committed to not “intervene” in the inquiry’s work, as it had been set up, and later amended under international pressure, to operate free from state interference.
“The outcome will be respected by the country’s various institutions such as the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Human Rights Commission and the Police Integrity Commission,” he said.
Abbas also told Minivan New that the president was nonetheless committed to taking part in road-map talks between government-aligned parties and the opposition MDP to try and overcome the country’s political deadlock, but only once he was confident the opposition had stopped its alleged harassment.
“The president has continued to reiterate that this harassment needs to stop. It is not stopping and two police officers have been beaten this weekend by MDP supporters,” he went on to allege. “As long as harassment continues we will not join talks.”
Last week, the government alleged that protests against Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen on the island of Hulhumale’, where he was met with a barrage of offensive language, were directly linked to the MDP, despite the party’s decision to temporarily suspend street demonstrations.
However, the MDP at the time denied any direct involvement in the incident – which saw eight people arrested – claiming it represented the frustrations of individuals against the present political situation.
Ahead of the government’s ongoing accusations that it was being harassed by the MDP, the country’s only opposition party yesterday released a statement expressing “grave concern” at the prosecution of its members, who it alleged were being targeted unlawfully.
“The MDP believes this is a deliberate attempt by the regime to destabilise the country ahead of the Commission of National Inquiry report into February’s transfer of power, which is due to be published on 30 August,” the party stated.
“The regime is pressing charges against MPs for Male’: Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – for obstructing police duty, MP Ibrahim Rasheed for obstructing police duty, assaulting police officers, threatening and creating unrest and MP, Imthiyaz Fahmy, for allegedly assaulting a police officer.”
According to the statement, there was also particular concern over terrorism charges the party said had been filed against MP Mohamed Rasheed and Addu City Councillor Ahmed Mirzad.
“Terrorism charges against these two individuals are being levied under allegations that they incited violence and arson attacks on public buildings and police stations on 8 February 2012 in Addu City. Furthermore, last month the Prosecutor General lodged a case at the criminal court against MP for Thoddu constituency and Deputy Leader of MDP’s Parliamentary Group, Ali Waheed,” the statement read. “The charges against him are also for obstructing Police duty. All the MPs have denied the charges. The MDP believes all of the charges to be politically motivated.”
Coupled with uncertainty over whether former President Mohamed Nasheed will face trial for his role in the controversial arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, the MDP alleged that its members continue to be the victims of a “witch-hunt” orchestrated by the state.
“While politically motivated prosecutions continue, the MDP notes with dismay that no action has been taken against security forces who mutinied and used excessive force on peaceful protesters, although these concerns have been highlighted by international organisations and international media agencies,” the party claimed. “At a time when the people of the Maldives and the international community are also questioning the legitimacy and the impartiality of the government and the courts, it is concerning the government is continuing to press politically motivated charges against pro-democracy activists.”
OIC funding talks
Beyond domestic politics, President Waheed also today discussed the (OIC) that saw the establishment of an institute of dialogue to allow member states within the organisation to collaborate and reach agreement on religious issues.
Abbas said that the president has also had meetings with a number of fellow OIC member states regarding unspecified funding projects.
“The president will in due course reveal the details on these funding projects and how they will work,” he said.