All-party talks fail again with “no consensus”

The political leaders emerged out of the three day All Party Talks without reaching a consensus on the six point-agenda, failing again to achieve a compromise on breaking the political deadlock following the controversial ousting of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on February 7.

Despite stalling several times due to disagreements over the subject and order of the agenda, the talks began at the Vice President’s Bandos Island Resort with expectation of reaching a consensus on the six-point agenda.

Six items on the agenda are, in order: 1) Discussion on how to solve the problem of public disturbances carried out in the country; 2) Discussion on assessing the state budget situation; 3) Discussion on identifying reforms needed for institutions and independent posts; 4) Discussion on assessing the laws to be amends and new laws to be enacted; 5) Discussion on amendments to the constitution; and 6) Discussion on determining a date for a presidential election.

However after a third day of failed talks with political representatives, Convener Ahmed Mujthaba told media that despite 15 hours of talks split into four meetings, they were only able to discuss the first item of the six-point agenda.

Although 30 points were outlined as measures to end the political disturbances, Mujthaba confirmed that the parties came to “no consensus” during the discussion.

Reportedly, amid heated arguments and intense debates between the pro government and former ruling MDP representatives, discussions ended without progressing to a cross-party agreement on any of the points. Convener Mujthaba reportedly came under verbal attacks as well.

According to newspaper Haveeru, 30 measures proposed by parties to end public disturbances included; “no attacks on public and private property, no attacks on political figures, no sexual transgressions in public parks where a party’s flag is hoisted, no keeping crows or other animals in public places, not hanging swings that block the pavements, not prevent anyone from coming ashore on any island, not holding political activities on roads and pavements, not participating in protests while intoxicated, not stymieing the work of the parliament, not using children or logos of a foreign body in a political protest, not spreading exaggerated or false reports through media outlets, not using loud speakers during peaceful and street protests, obeying court orders and not holding street rallies.”

MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor  told Minivan News that the party was requested to cease practicing black magic and other malicious forms of sorcery against other parties at the talks.

“I think that some people involved are now playing a hoax. It is hard to believe that the regime is lowering itself to this level. It is both pointless and irrelevant,” he claimed. “It is notable that figures such as former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom are very superstitious.”

At a press conference held this afternoon police displayed what they alleged to be items used for black magic by MDP protesters at the  party camp site Usfasgandu. A female activist was also arrested on suspicion of sorcery.

The President Office and pro government party representatives have not responded to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

However, representative of the coalition Jumhooree Party and President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza blamed MDP for the outcome of the talks in local media.

“We proposed against stymieing of political activities and visits to the islands. But MDP was unwilling to agree. If they had done so, the outcome could have been much different,” Riza told Haveeru.

However, Riza stopped short from calling the talks a failure stating that the drafting and discussion on the 30 points itself is a “major achievement”.

Mujthaba noted that the “results are not bad considering the current political climate.”

The next round of talks will be scheduled after discussions with the parties and will continue from the first point ofnthe agenda.


All Party talks to continue at Bandos May 31-June1

Convenor of the All Party talks, Ahmed Mujthaba, confirmed at a press conference this morning that party representatives would attend a three-day retreat at Bandos Island Resort from Thursday, to try and reach a consensus on the six-point agenda.

The India-sponsored roadmap talks were put forward to try and break the political deadlock following the controversial ousting of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on February 7.

Despite stalling several times due to disagreements over the subject and order of the agenda, challenges from the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) over the legality of the MDP’s representation, and the higher profile of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) into the circumstances surrounding the change of power, the roadmap talks have continued.

The six items on the agenda on the agenda are, in order:

  1. Discussion on how to solve the problem of public disturbances carried out in the country;
  2. Discussion on assessing the state budget situation;
  3. Discussion on identifying reforms needed for institutions and independent posts;
  4. Discussion on assessing the laws to be amends and new laws to be enacted;
  5. Discussion on amendments to the constitution;
  6. Discussion on determining a date for a presidential election.

The next round of talks had been scheduled at Bandos – a resort owned by Vice President Waheed Deen – to allow the parties to focus on the issues without the distractions of a normal working day, Mujthaba said.

MDP representative at the talks, former Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa, said she felt the atmosphere was now conducive towards productive discussion, and said the MDP was trying to get the leaders of all the parties assembled on the final day – “there might be something to sign,” she suggested.

“I think the Commonwealth’s insistence on changing the composition of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) has driven home to the government the seriousness of of these talks,” she added.

The original objective of the talks, as put forward by President Mohamed Waheed, was to “restore peace and harmony in the country”, Dr Zulfa noted. “Disruption of peace and harmony was not something that just fell out of the sky. At least a third of the country are upset about the rights that have been taken away from them.”

Deputy Leader and Spokesperson of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef was not responding at time of press, while Vice President of the PPM Umar Naseer was in Singapore.

UN Mediator Pierre Yves Monett, who is assisting Mujthaba with the talks, also attended the press conference this morning. Mujthaba noted that Monett had been provided with interpreters as the talks would be conducted in Dhivehi.


Stalemated all-party talks “ridiculous, a farce”, says Afeef

Progress continued to elude the participants in the All-Party Roadmap talks yesterday as the latest meeting ended in stalemate.

After repeated false starts since the first meeting on February 20, the talks stuttered after Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) representatives continued to question the make-up of the group engaged in the discussions, as well as the sincerity of the government’s statements over early elections.

One of the MDP’s representatives at yesterday’s meeting, former Home Minister Hassan Afeef, expressed doubts about the potential success of the roadmap talks.

“They are not interested in talking about political settlements, they are talking nonsense,” said Afeef.

“I don’t believe Mujuthaba [mediator of the talks] chose the parties [who were involved]… the old dictatorship chose it. I asked him how he had chosen the parties and he said he had chosen those who had been protesting against the MDP. It’s ridiculous, a farce,” continued Afeef.

The similarity of these statements with those following the first round of talks belies the lack of forward movement in the discussions.

An MDP statement after the first meeting explained the decision to boycott “when it became clear that the talks were to include political parties with no democratic mandate, and that they would focus on procedural issues such as the timing and venue for future talks – a clear effort to delay substantive discussions.”

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, which has been involved in the talks, does not have official representation in the parliament or on an elected council.

Under parliamentary regulations, MPs who joined Gayoom’s PPM from the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) technically count as independent MPs until elected on a PPM ticket in the next parliamentary election.

Also representing the MDP at the meeting was the party’s interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik, who told Minivan News that “no concrete talking” took place at yesterday evening’s event. He also questioned the assembly and the motivations of the group.

Changing tack slightly, the MDP have now suggested that the talks should include all registered parties in the country, given the involvement of parties with no democratic mandate already participating.

“I have told Mujuthaba, ‘if all-party talks means all-party talks, then okay… if not, what are we doing?’” said Moosa.

PPM representative at the talks, Ilham Ahmed, told local paper Haveeru that the MDP had given no previous indication that they would be calling for greater inclusivity in the discussions. Ilham said that the proposal should be discussed as the MDP’s approach was “confusing”.

A press release from Mujuthaba’s office today stated that the main aim of yesterday’s talks remained the order the agenda. Mujuthaba told Haverru that no decisions had been made on the MDP’s new proposal.

The agenda was tentatively agreed upon at the second meeting at the end of February. The list included constitutional amendments, dates for early elections, and the potential changes needed for independent institutions. The order with which the agenda should be addressed was supposed to follow shortly after this.

The press release also said that all parties involved in the talks would meet with the United Nation’s observer at the talks. Mujuthaba is scheduled to be out of the country until April 24, prompting the convening of yesterday’s meeting.

The MDP’s blocking of President Waheed’s address to the People’s Majlis on March 1, however, saw the withdrawal from the talks of the DRP, PPM, Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). The MDP contends that its disruption of the sitting was justified as Dr Waheed’s presidency was illegitimate, given police and military mutiny that led to Nasheed’s resignation.

Moosa also questioned the agenda of the talks, suggesting that the aim of the group was to legitimise the government rather than push for early elections.

Regarding the continued participation of the MDP in the talks, Afeef said that he personally did not think progress could be made, but said he would be prepared to represent his party in further talks if asked.

Moosa stated: “We are ready to talk about early elections, for that we are ready to talk.”