Moderator of All-Party Talks resigns as MDP withdraws

Convenor Ahmed Mujuthaba has resigned from the All-Party Talks.

The talks were envisaged by India as a means to resolve political tension in the country as one track of the international community’s response to the situation, together with the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), but have since been eclipsed by the leader’s dialogue talks.

The CNI recently released its report stating that there was no coup in the Maldives, that Nasheed did not resign under duress, and that no police mutiny took place.

In a press release issued by the talks’ secretariat, Mujuthaba stated two specific reasons for his decision to resign.

The first reason was that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had declined from participating in the talks at present, Mujuthaba stated. As the All-Party Talks have now been converted to Leaders’ Dialogue, which is limited to parties that have parliament representation, he suggested that the talks could be continued within parliament itself.

The MDP has released a statement last night stating the party had decided in its National Executive Council meeting to stop participating in the talks for the time being. While it further states that this is not a permanent withdrawal from the discussions, the statement does not cite the reasons behind the decision.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad however said to Minivan News today, “Mujuthaba has resigned. What more is there to say? MDP has hijacked the all party talks.”

He declined from commenting on whether the Leaders’ Dialogue meeting scheduled for this afternoon would still be held.

At the initial Leader’s Dialogue meeting of 2nd September, the MDP Chairperson’s request for placing the issue of MDP’s role in the government on the discussion agenda gave rise to dissenting opinions through the coalition.

President Waheed had later stated that there was no possibility of MDP joining the unity government.

President’s Advisor on Political Affairs Ahmed Thaufeeg, earlier this month was quoted in local media as stating that MDP should attend the Leader’s Dialogue accepting that there would be no discussions concerning early elections, no chance of the party joining the current government, and that the party should have no further conditions.

Ahmed Mujuthaba was not responding to calls at the time of press.

MDP International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today that the party had temporarily withdrawn from the All Party Talks for the purposes of ‘reconsideration and re-engagement’.

Hamid said that on August 14 the MDP had taken the initiative to suggest holding talks between the parties represented in the legislature, but the proposition had initially been rejected by the government, who wished to have the talks after the release of the CNI report.
According to Hamid, the MDP came to the decision to reconsider participation because the government was unwilling to address a number of important issues, ranging from declaring the political alignment of the current government, taking action against police brutality as noted in the CNI report, and the possibility for early elections.
Hamid further said the the party believed that for the talks to be successful, it needed a strong convener and that this needed to be facilitated by the international community.

Dissenting opinion in unity government coalition over MDP role in government

Speaking to Minivan News today, Chairperson of Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) Moosa Manik said that at Leaders’ Dialogue meeting held Sunday he had requested for two points to be added to the discussion agenda.

“According to the CNI report, this is a continuation of the government elected in 2008. Since it was MDP that was elected in 2008, we must be in government even now,” said Moosa.

“So I requested that we add to the agenda discussions over the participation of the MDP in the government elected in 2008. On these same grounds, I also requested we add to the agenda discussions to clarify whether MDP represents the ruling party, or the opposition in parliament.”

While Moosa Manik stated that the requests made were only to add discussions on the topic to the agenda, local media has reported that the party has proposed the MDP itself be included in the government. The news caused an eruption of differing views among the former opposition parties.

In a press briefing held after Sunday’s meeting, the President’s Advisor on Political Affairs, Ahmed Thaufeeq, said that he welcomed the MDP’s proposition. Thaufeeq said he felt it was a wise step to take in strengthening the unity government. He did, however, say that the matter had to be discussed among the parties currently in the coalition before coming to a decision.

Meanwhile, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News today that there was no way all political parties could be part of a government in a modern democracy.

“If the MDP is allowed to join the government, then who will be the opposition? We need a viable opposition for the government to function. MDP is continuing to create havoc through protests and calling the government traitors. The best option for them is to continue staying as a viable and legal opposition,” Masood said.

He said it was so far unclear whether MDP wanted to show support to the government by ending the ongoing protests while staying on as opposition, or if they wanted seats in the cabinet.

Secretary General of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Abdulla Ameen, told Minivan News that he was completely against the proposition. Alleging that MDP had failed to live up to its promises of 2008, Ameen said, “Dr Waheed very sincerely invited them to join the government previously, but they themselves rejected it. The MDP are still calling us ‘baaghi’ (traitor), so why should we let them into the government? Also, this proposition may have come from ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, and not necessarily from the party itself.”

Although Ameen stated that the party had not agreed on an official position on the issue yet, Vice President of DQP and current Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Mohamed Jameel, also told local media that he felt there was no justification to allow MDP into the government coalition.

On the other hand, Deputy Leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) and Parliament Member for Kashidhoo Constituency, Abdulla Jabir, is of the opinion that MDP’s initiative would translate into a means of maintaining peace in a country as small as the Maldives.

“I would personally welcome the initiative, and the members of MDP, into the government. However, the JP hasn’t yet discussed the issue within the party,” he said.

Contrary to Jabir’s views, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim and President Dr Ibrahim Didi – himself formerly President of the MDP – oppose the suggestion of MDP’s involvement in the government.

According to Sun Online, Dr Didi doubted the sincerity of the MDP’s proposition and stated that it is important to further look into the matter to see if it involves any “treacherous plans” of former President and MDP Presidential Candidate, Mohamed Nasheed. Gasim alleged that Nasheed had caused “immense loss to the country”, and that this had to be kept in mind when reviewing MDP’s request.

People’s Alliance MP Moosa Zameer told Minivan News that the party had no reservations about letting MDP into the current government coalition. He went on to say: “If Dr Waheed feels it is best to let MDP in, then we have no issues. However, we hope he will consider the fact that the bigger the government gets, the more complications will arise. There will be another election in 2013. Waheed very strongly wants a free and fair election. I feel that it can only go in a transparent manner which is to the satisfaction of all parties only if MDP too has a stake in the government.”

DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News that the party felt discussions in the Leaders’ Dialogue should only be shared with media by its coordinators. Regarding former President Nasheed’s statement that PPM and DRP should not be part of the current government, Mausoom said “We do not think it is worth responding to statements by people who hold no official position in MDP. Former President Nasheed holds no post in MDP’s leadership and cannot speak in its behalf. We will respond only if MDP releases a former statement regarding the matter.”

PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen has been quoted in local media as saying that letting MDP join the government is not a problem ‘in principle’, but that the general members of his party are strongly against the idea.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik clarified to Minivan News today that MDP had so far only accepted the CNI report along with the reservations put forward by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s nominee, Ahmed Saeed ‘Gahaa’. Moosa Manik also echoed former President Nasheed’s statement that if, according to the CNI, this is the 2008 government being continued, then he felt that the DRP and PPM should not at all be in the government coalition.

The Qaumee Party, Adhaalath Party, Jumhoree Party and Gaumee Ihthihaadh were in the 2008 coalition with MDP, while DRP, PPM and PA were in opposition.

MDP meanwhile confirms that it will continue the ongoing protests asking for early elections.

Interim Deputy Leader of PPM, Umar Naseer and Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Mahloof were not responding to calls at time of press.

Minister of Home Affairs and Vice President of Jumhooree Party Dr Mohamed Jameel and DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali were also not responding to calls.