The Edition


Maldives govt rules out jailed opposition leaders from party talks

Mohamed Visham
10 October 2016, MVT 14:18
Jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed (L) and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla.
Mohamed Visham
10 October 2016, MVT 14:18

Maldives government Monday informed all political parties that it would not allow convicted and jailed politicians in the Commonwealth led all party talks.

The condition would definitely not sit well with the main opposition parties -- which was the primary reason why the first round of the talks failed to make any headway.

Despite renouncing pre-conditions for talks with the government, Maldives’ main opposition parties would push to free jailed opposition leaders during the sit-downs.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) had agreed to sit-down with the government in a bid to honour the Commonwealth led push to resolve the protracted political strife in the Maldives.

After placing Maldives on its formal agenda, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) had called on both sides to compromise and sit-down for dialogue without any pre-conditions.

The government had moved quickly to invite opposition parties to designate representatives for the talks but shifted blame to the opposition after the UN led all party talks failed to make much headway.

In addition to the Commonwealth, the United Nations had also initiated proxy talks after the main opposition parties refused to sit-down with government demanding the release of all jailed political leaders as a pre-condition for the talks.

MDP has continued to pressure the government into releasing its leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year but was given asylum in Britain after traveling there for back surgery while Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla was found guilty of terrorism over a speech he gave at the May Day rally and sentenced to 12 years in prison in February.

Imran was accused of inciting violence with the prosecution arguing that he must bear responsibility for the violent clashes.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has come under heavy international criticism after most of his opponents have either been jailed or forced into exile since March last year.

The move by the government which effectively rules out Nasheed and Imran comes after the government had said it would not put-forth any pre-conditions for the sit-down with the opposition.

But the government had earlier demanded all political parties to have the representatives for the imminent party talks passed by the councils of the respective parties.

The demand has been widely deemed as an attempt by president Yameen to snub his half brother's representatives from the talks.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had handpicked members loyal to him including lawmaker son Faaris Maumoon for the talks.

Gayoom had nominated Dhiggaru MP Faaris and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim — both from his faction to the Commonwealth led talks with the government.

Yameen had personally asked for a council sit-down to decide on representatives which was rejected by his half brother.

The row between the Gayoom brothers has split PPM in two ever since the elder Gayoom attempted to block government proposed amendment to the Tourism Act.