Leaders of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party-Jumhooree Party (MDP-JP) alliance met Home Minister Umar Naseer today to seek the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting this morning, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said the opposition leaders told the home minister that the present state of the country was such that “a national reconciliation” was necessary.
“And we said the opposition is ready to listen to what the government has to say,” he said, noting that the leaders discussed “the intensity of the current political turmoil”.
Both sides agreed not to reveal further details to the media in the interests of “constructive diplomacy,” Waheed said, adding that the opposition hoped to receive a response from the government.
The opposition would continue its protests calling for the release of Nasheed, Nazim and others arrested during anti-government demonstrations, Waheed continued, but “the discussion table should be always be open.”
JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile said the opposition leaders stressed the importance of peacefully resolving the current political crisis to ensure economic and social stability.
“Home Minister Umar Naseer said he would take [the concerns] to the president,” Gasim said.
The opposition alliance revealed on Tuesday night that President Yameen rejected a request for a meeting to discuss 13 demands issued at a mass rally on February 27. JP Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim told the press that President Yameen responded to a formal request by stating that he was only willing to meet if the opposition wished to discuss matters that were beneficial to the public.
President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told local media yesterday that the president did not have the authority to release suspects in detention while on trial, noting that the judiciary was an independent branch under separation of powers.
The president was open to discussions if the opposition proposed matters that were both beneficial to the public and within the president’s powers and constitutional responsibilities, he said.
In a tweet yesterday, Home Minister Umar Naseer said the meeting should not be interpreted as “negotiation” between the government and the opposition.
I’ve granted an appointment to MDP/JP tomrw at the Ministry. This shud NOT be interpreted as a negotiation between Govt & the Opposition.
— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) March 4, 2015
Also present at the meeting were Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, MDP parliamentary group leader as well as JP MPs Ilham Ahmed, Abdulla Riyaz, and Hussain Mohamed.
In addition to the release of Nasheed and Nazim, the opposition’s demands included repealing amendments to the Auditor General’s Act that saw the removal of former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim, empowering local councils, and investigating serious corruption allegations against senior government officials.
Other demands issued at the protest march included continuing electricity subsidies, fulfilling campaign pledges to provide subsidies to fishermen and farmers, and reversing a decision to impose import duty on fuel.
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