Maldives: Opposition alliance says no all-party talks until opposition leaders are freed

Maldives opposition alliances say they will not sit at any all-party talks with the government until the opposition leaders are freed.

Responding to invitation from the government for all-party talks, the opposition alliance comprising four parties Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) led by former President Maumoon Gayoom, Jumhooree Party and Adhaalath Party stated that President Abdulla Yameen should first free the opposition leaders if he is sincerely keen on restoring stability to the nation.

The opposition alliance stated this in a press statement issued on Monday.

State representative Dr Mohamed Shainee had on 6 September invited the opposition alliance for an all-party talk. He had requested members of the opposition to submit in writing their suggestions and amendments for their desired reform.

In yesterday’s press release, the opposition coalition has dubbed President Yameen’s invitation for all-party talks as a “cunning move” to deceive the international community that has been pressuring the Maldives as of late. It further alleged that the president is disingenuous in his intent to hold the talks.

The opposition coalition cited several of reasons for not adhering to President’s call to hold talks between the ruling party and the opposition. The opposition alliance accused President Yameen of: (i) Disregarding the Constitution and jailing opposition leaders; (ii) Levying unnecessary and baseless charges against opposition parliament members in an attempt to unseat them; (iii) Using excessive force on opposition supporters who gather at rallies; (iv) Exerting undue influence on the Prosecutor General and other state institutions, which prevent them from carrying out their duties; (v) Using the military to seize the parliament and barring parliamentarians from carrying out their duties (vii) Diffusing political activities using the police and forcefully diminishing the role of political parties in the country; (viii) Withholding the allocated sum of money for political parties from the State Budget; (ix) Overlooking regulations and procedures, and leasing and selling Maldivian islands to foreign investors; and (x) The deteriorating relationship with one of the Maldives’ closest and oldest allies – neighbouring India.

The press release stated, “We do not believe that the aforementioned issues are up for discussion with political parties; these are points that the government will have to amend themselves.”

The opposition parties also accused President Yameen of personally involved in mass corruption and noted that they do not want to be affiliated with corruption.

The government has invited the opposition parties for talks on previously as well. However, the talks had failed as the government refused to concede to prior conditions put forward by opposition parties.

The main condition put forward by opposition parties in the past was to allow their convicted leaders, who are serving jail sentences, to participate in the talk, which President Yameen declined to meet and this time was no different. While extending the invitation for all-party talks on Wednesday, State representative Dr Mohamed Shainee specifically announced that no prior conditions must be placed on the table by any party before the talks and that any political leader who is incarcerated or convicted and about to begin a prison sentence will not be allowed to participate.

At present, former President Mohamed Nasheed of main opposition MDP, Imran Abdulla of religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, and Qasim Ibrahim of Jumhoory Party are convicted while several senior leaders of the joint opposition, including some lawmakers, are facing prosecuted.

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