Reeko Moosa condemns MDP expulsion as a move to bar his 2018 presidential candidacy

Deputy Speaker of the Majlis MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has condemned his expulsion from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), describing the move as a plot by former President Mohamed Nasheed to bar him from contesting the party’s 2018 presidential primaries.

“I am certain the expulsion was to bar me from contesting the presidential primaries. President Nasheed must accept there are other political leaders within the party,” Moosa told Minivan News today.

Moosa, a founding member of the MDP and a vocal critic of the 30-year authoritarian ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, announced his intent to contest MDP’s 2018 presidential primaries on October 25.

The MDP’s disciplinary committee expelled Moosa on Monday after he repeatedly breached the party’s three-line whips including the vote on the 2015 state budget, the amendments to the Judicature Act – which reduced the seven-member Supreme Court bench to five judges, and the removal of former Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and former Justice Muthasim Adnan.

If Moosa wishes to rejoin the party, he is required to issue a public apology and obtain 50 new members for the party, but he will be barred from standing for any leadership position or contesting in party primaries for five years.

He described the disciplinary committee’s decision as “undemocratic” and “discriminatory” pointing out that five MDP MPs who were absent from the vote to dismiss the Supreme Court judges were given lesser penalties.

Moosa said he does not trust the party’s appeal process, and said he has now requested the Elections Commission to review the decision.

He also dismissed local media reports which had suggested he may join the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM): “I will not sign onto another party. I am not one who can be part of another party. Where will I go other than the MDP? There is no second ideology that can fight against the dictatorship.”


Moosa, a prominent figure in the Maldives’ pro-democracy movement, said a faction within the MDP has continued to harass him on social media since he announced his intent to contest the presidential primaries.

“I did not think they would expel me. I did not think [the party] would treat me so badly. I’ve served MDP with sincerity. On February 8, I was severely brutalised while acting as a bodyguard to Nasheed,” he said.

Moosa had to be flown to Sri Lanka for medical treatment for injuries sustained during a brutal police crackdown on MDP supporters a day after Nasheed’s ouster on February 7, 2012.

He described Nasheed as dictatorial, claiming the former president had systematically sidelined rivals within the party including Dr Mohamed Munawar, Dr Ibrahim Didi, and former MP Alhan Fahmy.

“Nasheed is a green dictator, championing the environment to get attention on the international front, but look at what he has done to Dr Munawaar, Dr Didi and Alhan Fahmy. He wants to keep the MDP under his control,” he said.

On Monday, a group of ten Moosa supporters staged a protest outside Nasheed’s residence, Kenereege, calling the MP’s expulsion “unfair”.

Moosa suggested Nasheed was behind the rumour that he may join PPM the next day.

“There are a lot of members who support me within the MDP. The rumour that I would join the PPM on the next day at a ceremony at Nasandhura Palace Hotel at noon, at a time when I was out of country, was engineered to make my supporters believe I would leave the MDP and thereby dissipate their criticism of the party’s decision,” he said.

The news was first reported in pro-government newspaper Vaguthu and later on opposition-aligned Raajje TV.


Explaining his decision not to participate in the vote to dismiss Faiz and Muthasim, Moosa said the former chief justice had caused enormous harm to the MDP.

On Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, Faiz had sworn in then Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed “without raising a single question on whether Nasheed was coerced,” Moosa said.

During Faiz’s tenure, the Supreme Court bench had stripped three MDP MPs of their membership and annulled the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013, he continued.

The Supreme Court’s removal of former Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz in March was a deliberate attempt to “damage MDP’s chances in parliamentary polls,” Moosa said.

“But that day [December 14], MDP came out to defend Faiz. I did not participate in the vote because I do not support Faiz. I do support Muthasim, but their names were put up together for a single vote. I did not want to remove Muthasim,” he explained.

He also criticised the party’s three-line whip calling on MPs to be present at the sitting, claiming a whip can only be issued on the vote itself, not on MPs presence at the Majlis.

He contended the MDP had failed to take action against MPs Eva Abdulla, Abdulla Shahid, and Rozaina Adam for their absence from the vote on the Special Economic Zone bill. Eva and Shahid had been in Geneva for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the time.

Moosa also condemned Minivan News’ inclusion of a Raajje TV report on his company Heavy Load Pvt Ltd receiving islands for resort development in compensation for a terminated reclamation deal in its previous report on his expulsion from MDP.

He did confirm that Heavy Load Pvt Ltd has received islands, but said the deal was a transaction between the company and the government after the company threatened to file charges at the court for the termination.

The MDP has said the sudden removal of the two Supreme Court Judges is an attempt to stack the judiciary in President Abdulla Yameen’s favour.

Commonwealth groups have described the judges’ removal as unconstitutional, saying it constituted a clear breach of the Commonwealth Principles to which the government of Maldives has subscribed.

“As a result the independence of the judiciary and the Rule of Law have been “severely jeopardised”.

The International Commission of Jurists said the Maldivian parliament and executive “have effectively decapitated the country’s judiciary and trampled on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation of powers in a democratic State.”

Related to this story

MDP expels MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik

MDP calls on six MPs absent from Supreme Court vote to answer disciplinary charges

Reeko Moosa unveils plans to contest 2018 presidential primary

Abdulla Saeed appointed as new Chief Justice, dismissed Justice Faiz laments “black day”


MDP rejects MP Shareef’s proposal to reduce Supreme Court bench

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) national executive council has rejected an amendment proposed by MDP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef to reduce the number of Supreme Court judges from the current seven to five.

Speaking to the press today, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed said the amendments would require reappointment of the Supreme Court bench, and said the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) majority in the parliament and their refusal to consider the opposition’s concerns would result in a bench biased towards the PPM.

“The current issues within the judicial system does not amount to the number of judges at the Supreme Court. There are bigger issues that require immediate resolution,” he said.

In a speech last night, Nasheed described the amendments as an attempt by the PPM to fit the Supreme Court bench into President Abdulla Yameen’s fist.

The amendments came in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to accept a complaint over “an unconstitutional decision” to reappoint the auditor general, he claimed. The Supreme Court today rejected the complaint.

Shareef defected from the MDP to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) in 2008, but rejoined the MDP during the presidential elections of 2013. Gayoom left the DRP to form PPM in 2011.

Shareef said he believed a seven member Supreme Court to be too large for the Maldives. He has also proposed two three-member High Court benches be established in the North and South.

Meanwhile, MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih said Shareef had not consulted the party before he submitted amendments.

MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said the party’s MPs are now obliged to proceed with the national council’s decision.

Meanwhile, local media reported that Hulhuhenveiru MP and Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik had boycotted the council meeting following a heated argument. Speaking to Haveeru afterwards, Manik pledged to support Shareef, even he if he has to do so alone, and claimed MDP members had treated Shareef disrespectfully at today’s meeting.

The Supreme Court – established in 2008 – has been in the midst of numerous controversies in and out of the Court room.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court used a ‘suo moto’ proceeding – allowing the Court to act as both the plaintiff and the judge – against the Elections Comission (EC)’s President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz.

They were charged with contempt of court and disobedience to order and sentenced to six months in jail as a result of testimony given in the People’s Majlis independent commission’s oversight committee.

More recently, the Court employed a similar ‘suo moto’ proceeding against the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) after it criticized the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) sent to the UN.

The Court charged HRCM with undermining the constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary in the UPR while stating that the report – based on a 2013 report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knau – was ‘poorly researched’, ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous.’

June this year also saw Judge Ali Hameed – a sitting Judge at the Supreme Court – being cleared of a sex tape scandal after three recordings surfaced allegedly showing Ali Hameed engaging in sexual acts with three different woman.


Reeko Moosa unveils plans to contest 2018 presidential primary

Deputy Speaker and Hulhu-Henveiru MP Reeko Moosa Manik revealed plans to contest the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) primary for the 2018 presidential candidacy.

While speaking at an MDP rally held in the carnival area last night, Moosa said the party would discredit any allegations that it has no internal democracy.

Moosa said his resignation as chairperson following the disappointing Majlis election results in March was intended to provide space and opportunity for young politicians to take charge.

“I took a step back from the front lines of the party in order to spend more time with my family after ten years of working tirelessly at the front lines of the party,” said Moosa while speaking about his absence from party activities in the recent months.

When stepping down, Reeko called upon fellow party leaders to follow his example. Former President Mohamed Nasheed made similar suggestions before standing uncontested for the party’s presidency in August.


Reeko Moosa to stand for deputy speaker of the Majlis

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP elect ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has announced he will contest for the position of parliamentary deputy speaker.

Members of the 18th People’s Majlis are to be sworn in tomorrow.

Moosa said he has held discussions with parties in the ruling coalition Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Progressive Party of the Maldives on the matter.

Meanwhile, MDP’s acting president Mohamed Nasheed has announced the MDP will back Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim for the position of Speaker.

The JP and PPM are at loggerheads over the speakership issue. The PPM has said the coalition will fall apart should Gasim decide to contest, though Gasim said he will not withdraw his name.


Parliament approves Habeeb to Elections Commission with unanimous consent

Parliament has approved Ismail Habeeb Abdul Raheem with 60 votes in favour and none against to the Elections Commission (EC) to replace former commission member Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed.

Following Waheed’s resignation in October last year citing poor health, President Abdulla Yameen nominated three individuals to fill the vacancy on the five-member commission, submitting their names to the People’s Majlis.

All MPs belonging to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in attendance today voted in favour of approving Habeeb to the post.

After interviewing Yameen’s nominees last night, the opposition-majority independent institutions oversight committee awarded Habeeb the highest marks and recommended approving his appointment to the commission.

Presenting the committee report (Dhivehi) to the Majlis floor today, Deputy Chair MP Rozaina Adam noted that one of the three nominees – former Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan – did not turn up for the interview.

Meanwhile, after interviewing the third nominee, Mohamed Tholal – chair of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) elections committee – the committee learned that his wife was contesting in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Rozaina said.

Tholal had conceded that he could face a conflict of interest in EC decisions concerning the Maradhoo constituency poll, she added.

In the ensuing debate on the committee report, PPM MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur said there were “no questions about Ismail Habeeb’s competence” as he had previously served as the EC’s executive director and director general.

Habeeb was sacked from the EC in January 2013 before contesting his dismissal at the Labour Tribunal. The tribunal ordered his reinstatement in August 2013, by which time he has been appointed to the Civil Court as its senior administrator.

Government-aligned Maldives Development Alliance MP Ahmed Amir meanwhile accused former EC members of “favouring a particular political party”.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed asserted that EC President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz had become “sacrificial lambs”, and praised their “hard work and service to the nation.”

The EC members had worked “like slaves during the time of the Pharaoh” under difficult circumstances to ensure citizens’ right to vote, he said, adding that unfounded allegations against the pair were “shameful”.

The outcome of last year’s presidential poll would have been different if the allegations were true, Nasheed said.


Habeeb’s confirmation to the EC today follows the Supreme Court’s controversial removal of Thowfeek and Fayaz on Sunday on contempt of court charges.

The dismissals left the EC without the three members required for a quorum to hold meetings and approve decisions, raising doubts over the commission’s ability to prepare for and conduct the parliamentary elections as scheduled on March 22.

The Supreme Court judgment also ordered the executive, parliament, and the EC to “make all necessary arrangements” for the polls within six days.

While the President’s Office invited interested candidates to submit applications in the wake of the apex court ruling, Speaker Abdulla Shahid sent a letter to President Yameen, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, and Attorney General Mohamed Anil contending that the dismissals were unconstitutional.

The letter – based on legal advice provided by parliament’s Counsel General Fathmath Filza – stated that the pair were removed in violation of procedures specified in both the constitution and the Elections Commission Act for the appointment and dismissal of EC members.

Based on the counsel general’s advice, the independent institutions committee decided that Thowfeek and Fayaz remained EC members and summoned all four commissioners to a closed-door session yesterday.

The oversight committee had also summoned members of the Judicial Service Commission to discuss the Supreme Court’s ‘sumoto’ regulations as well as possible actions against the apex court.

However, with the exception of Civil Service Commission Chair Dr Mohamed Latheef and Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, JSC members refused to attend the meeting, citing short notice.

The oversight committee decided to summon members of the judicial watchdog body again on Friday (March 14).

Meanwhile, MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik told local media yesterday that the opposition party wished to see the Majlis elections take place as scheduled on March 22.

Moosa had adjourned an MDP national council meeting earlier this week without calling a vote on a proposal to boycott the polls, stating that the party’s 85 candidates should be consulted before approving such a decision.

The Hulhuhenveiru MP suggested that the polls could be held on March 22 if parliament approved a third member to the EC as most of the preparations had been completed.


MDP MP Ali Waheed calls to exhume body of murdered MP Afrasheem, conduct post-mortem

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Deputy Parliament Group Leader MP Ali Waheed has called on the state to exhume the body of murdered scholar and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in order to conduct a post mortem.

Referring to the MP’s murder last year as the “most serious crime ever committed in the Maldives”, Waheed said that various allegations and rumours were being spread to create confusion and suspicion in society about the case.

He said that these allegations had prominently focused on the involvement of certain senior politicians in the crime, including the MDP’s own Chairperson MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and PPM presidential candidate, MP Abdullah Yameen.

Waheed stated that it was therefore of utmost importance to conduct a post mortem in order to bring an end to this speculation and allegations over the case, while ascertaining the facts around Dr Afrasheem’s murder.

Prior to Waheed’s comments, MDP Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik also spoke of the importance of clarifying facts regarding Afrasheem’s murder.

Echoing comments previously raised by former President Mohamed Nasheed at a party rally, Moosa spoke of the need to verify if there was any truth in information that individuals suspected of involvement in the murder had fled the country on the day of the attack.

He further questioned why street surveillance cameras installed by the police had not been in operation on the night of the murder.

MDP MP Mohamed Riyaz also spoke of the allegations that Sudanese nationals may have had involvement in the crime, while stressing the importance of verifying the truth behind claims that Afrasheem had been summoned to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs shortly before his murder.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan was not responding to calls today from Minivan News today. Meanwhile, Dr Abdulla Mausoom, Parliamentary Group Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), said he was unavailable for comment at time of press.


Maldives Police Services announced in October 2012 that the FBI were extending assistance in the investigation of the MPs murder.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz later stated in a press conference held in December 2012 that the murder of Afrasheem had been carried out with a political motive, and that the culprits were to be paid MVR 4 million (US$ 260,000).

Riyaz had at the time dismissed claims that the murder was linked to religious fundamentalists, stating “no evidence has been gathered which suggests this murder had a religious motive.”

The main murder suspect identified by the police investigation into the attack, Hussain Humam, initially denied charges. He later confessed to the crime at a hearing held in May.

At the hearing, state prosecutors read out a statement which was said to have been given by Humam at one of the initial hearings. The statement claimed that son-in-law of ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid, had offered to pay him MVR 4 million for the murder of MP Afrasheem.

In the last hearing held in early June, Humam once again retracted his confession, claiming that he had been coerced into confession by police.

Humam’s father has also written to the Criminal Court and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives alleging police of conducting psychological abuse against the suspect and exerting coercion to confess to a crime he did not commit.

Religious scholar and MP Dr. Afrasheem Ali was found brutally murdered in the early hours of October 2, 2012 and was buried at a state funeral after Asr prayers on the same day.


Two police officers charged over attack on MDP MPs Mariya, ‘Reeko’ Moosa in February 2012

The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has pressed charges against two police officers for allegedly assaulting Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Mariya Ahmed Didi on February 8, 2012 during a brutal police crackdown.

Local media identified the accused as Mohamed Waheed from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Ibrahim Faisal from Machangolhi Rausha of Male’.

Mohamed Waheed was charged with hitting ‘Reeko’ Moosa in the head with a metal canister while Ibrahim Faisal was accused of assaulting MP Mariya Didi while she was inside a shop in Male’.

Faisal is also accused of hitting Mariya Didi in the face while police officers dragged her from the shop.

On February 8, thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets after former President Mohamed Nasheed declared that his resignation the previous day was made “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinying Special Operations (SO) police officers.

On August 22, 2012, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) released an investigative report (Dhivehi) which concluded that the police crackdown on the MDP march, which left dozens of demonstrators injured, was “brutal” and “without prior warning.”

Thirty-two people filed complaints with the HRCM concerning the varying degrees of injuries they sustained in the crackdown, while 20 people also submitted medical documents pertaining to the treatment of those wounds.

Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person had a fractured leg bone, another person’s arm was broken, and six people sustained head wounds.

February 8Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report also noted, and the victim had to undergo a corrective operation.

Meanwhile, the former ruling party informed the HRCM that their march across Male’ was spontaneous and that the party had not planned to stage any protests on February 8.

The crackdown

While riot police baton-charged the front line of protestors on February 8, Minivan News observed riot police also charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) area.

The SO police officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.

Al Jazeera news filmed parts of the attack from the rear and reported that on February 8 “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, [with] dozens left nursing their wounds.”

Amid the clashes, a group of opposition demonstrators infiltrated the crowds, attacking MDP supporters, according to witnesses.

Former President Nasheed was reported among the injured, having received head injuries during the clashes. He was briefly taken under police custody before being released back into the crowd.

Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

One young woman who went IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. The gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.

“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.

The BBC meanwhile reported “a baton charge by police on crowds gathered outside one of the main hospitals.”

“People scattered as officers sprinted towards them silhouetted against the lights of passing traffic,” the BBC’s Andrew North reported from Male’.

An injured protester

“Inside the hospital, dozens of Mr Nasheed’s supporters are still being treated for injuries, following earlier scuffles in the main square. Among them is Reeko Moosa Maniku, chairman of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party – who was with the former president when the clashes broke out. With a large head bandage and his shirt bloodied, he regained consciousness as we arrived. The police said they would kill me, he told us, as they beat me. Another MP was still unconscious in another ward.”


JP MP Alhan Fahmy to initiate no-confidence vote against President and Vice President

Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Alhan Fahmy has said today that he is in discussions with MPs from other parties to submit a motion to take a no confidence vote against both President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen.

Fahmy was initially elected to parliament as an MP representing the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP). He then transferred to the Maldivain Democratic Party (MDP), before signing with JP earlier this year. He was elected as Vice President of MDP during his time in the party.

Fahmy told local media today that he was initiating this vote for two specific reasons:  the first being Waheed’s negative remarks about the Majlis in his last trip to Sri Lanka, and secondly, that in Fahmy’s view neither Waheed nor Deen were fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities.

“[Waheed] has said that MPs just stay home without doing any work. That we take our salary and yet are always on leave. Waheed cannot make a statement like that,” Fahmy told Haveeru.

“That is encroachment on the privileges of MPs. This is a very worrying matter. What is going to happen if while staying as the highest authority in the state, he treats the parliament like sh*t?” Fahmy was quoted as saying.

He furthermore stated that both Waheed and Waheed Deen had failed to perform up to the responsibilities of the post detailed in article 100(a) of the Constitution of the Maldives.

Article 100(a) states the Majlis can remove a President or Vice President on grounds of violating a tenet of Islam or the constitution, conduct unsuited to the office, or an inability to carry out the office’s duties.

Removal of both President and Vice President simultaneously would trigger constitutional clauses requiring the Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid to assume office and to organise elections within 60 days.

According to Fahmy, his initiative was getting support from the opposition MDP, and he specifically noted the work of the party’s Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

Fahmy said he is now in the process of drafting the motion, expressing confidence that he would be able to obtain signatures from 25 MPs to submit the motion as per the regulations.

According to article 100 (e) of the constitution, a no confidence vote can be passed with votes from two-thirds of the total numbers of MPs in parliament, which amounts to 52 votes.

The constitution also requires 14 days notice to be given before the matter is voted upon, as well as providing both the President and Vice President with the opportunity to defend themselves against their respective charges.

Meanwhile, President of Jumhoree Party Ibrahim Didi, who formerly served in the same position at MDP, expressed concern over Fahmy’s statement.

Didi told local media that being part of the coalition, JP would offer full support to the coalition government. He said Fahmy had made the statement of his own accord, and that the party had no knowledge of the matter.

However, Didi has said that the party has not yet decided if it would take action against Fahmy for speaking against the party’s stance.

During Wednesday’s parliament session, Fahmy also called for the resignation of the Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz and Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik confirmed to Minivan News today that he supported Fahmy’s initiative to take the no-confidence vote.

“Since Alhan has taken the initiative, I will support him. I will do what needs to be done to bring the MDP Parliamentary Group on board,” Manik said.


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.”