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.

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JP council officially declares exit from Progressive Coalition

The Jumhooree Party (JP) has officially left the Progressive Coalition with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and has given leader Gasim Ibrahim the authority to make all decisions regarding actions needed to defend the Constitution.

“Jumhooree Party’s National Council agrees and decides to give all powers and authority to party leader Honourable Gasim Ibrahim in taking any course of action in cooperation of any party to defend the constitution of the Republic of Maldives”, said the unanimous JP Council motion yesterday (January 24).

At a press conference held on Saturday, JP Deputy Leader and former transport minister Ameen Ibrahim stated that the party had left the coalition due to the government’s repeated violations of the Constitution through the narrowing of basic rights and freedoms, and influencing independent state institutions.

Ameen was appointed transport minister following Abdulla Yameen’s election as president in November 2013, secured by the JP council’s decision to back him in the second round.

Following Gasim’s decision to stand against the PPM’s candidate for Majlis speaker last year, the PPM decided to unilaterally expel the JP from the ruling coalition – which also includes the Maldives Development Alliance.

A purge of JP ministers followed, with Ameen dismissed and two of the party’s cabinet members defecting to the former ally. Despite this, the JP maintained that the coalition agreement had not been fully terminated – expressing a willingness to continue discussions.

Ameen yesterday called on all political parties to discuss the steps that need to be taken to defend the Constitution, stating that the JP is willing to work with any party for that cause despite the potential threats and intimidation from the government to the party and its leader.

Minivan News was unable to obtain comment from the PPM at the time of publication.

Additionally, the JP council decided to remove Moosa Anwar from the post of party youth wing president yesterday. Anwar has pledged to contest the decision in the courts, saying it contravenes the JP’s constitution.

Spokesman for the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, has welcomed the JP’s decision to officially leave the coalition, saying that the party could not work with the current government.

“The government is unable to work within the framework of the Constitution of which the spirit is democratic and consultative,” said Ghafoor.

Ties between the MDP and the JP have grown closer in recent weeks, with former President Mohamed Nasheed pledging earlier this month to defend Gasim against government attacks.

Last week the MDP held a rally outside Gasim’s home to show solidarity with the leader and to defend the constitution, with JP Spokesman Ahmed Sameer expressing confidence that the MDP and JP could “travel on the same boat”.

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.

Meanwhile, speaking to journalists on his return from an official trip to Abu Dhabi on Thursday (January 22), Nasheed urged President 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.

The President’s Office has reported today that Yameen met with former President Gayoom – also his half-brother – to discuss the current political situation as well as the government’s planned initiatives.

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MDP holds street rally in front of Gasim’s residence

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