Fisheries minister Dr. Mohamed Shainee on Thursday refuted allegations that the Maldivian government is opposed to the United Nations mediating all-party talks so solve the political turmoil in the archipelago.
Shainee made the declaration following reports in India, which claimed that President Abdulla Yameen had refused to allow the UN’s participation as a mediator at the talks.
The state’s representative of the talks, Shainee told Mihaaru that President Yameen himself had requested the UN’s assistance for the discussions, to which the organization has agreed.
Stating that the UN has requested the government to establish an environment conducive to the talks, Shainee said that the government on multiple counts had extended invitations to all the political parties to attend the discussions without presenting prior conditions or the parties’ individual interests. He noted that the government had invited the parties twice after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on February 1 to release political prisoners and reinstate expelled legislators.
However, the only parties that had agreed to the talks unconditionally were Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), which make up the ruling coalition.
All the opposition parties had refused the government’s terms and presented multiple conditions, demanding the state to comply with them first, said Shainee.
It is of note that opposition parties had previously also stated that they would not attend the all-party talks unless the state agreed to their prior conditions, which usually included the release of their convicted leaders.
“I think the opposition should know by now that they cannot force the government to submit or overthrow it. If there are things to be reformed for the rights of the people, it can only be done so by talking to the government,” said Shainee as he repeatedly stressed that the state would not agree to opposition parties’ conditions or own interests.
The conditions presented by the opposition after the government’s most recent invitation for talks included enforcing the Supreme Court’s initial verdict to release political leaders, revoke the ongoing state of emergency, and lift the suspension on the Articles of the Constitution that curtail the powers of the parliament and judiciary. The opposition had also conditioned that the UN must be present as a mediator at the talks.