Male urges Opposition to engage in talks

The Maldives government has called on the main Opposition party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) led by former President Mohamed Nasheed, to engage in the political process and contribute to a “more sane, sensible and less hysterical political discourse”.

In an e-mail interview with The Hindu, Dr. Mohamed Shainee, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture who’s leading the government delegation during the all-party talks, said the principal opposition parties — MDP and Adhaalath Party — have refused to join political dialogue called by President Abdulla Yameen aimed at resolving the country’s political crisis.

Releasing jailed opponents

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group recently issued a ‘to-do’ list, urging the government to take steps to solve the political crisis, including holding direct talks with the Opposition and releasing jailed opponents.

“We remain deeply disappointed in the refusal of the principal Opposition parties to engage. These talks were convened in good faith. In the hope of a smooth start government recalled its points of discussion and came with a clean sheet. Reconciliation cannot come without honest debate and compromise.”

The MDP and AP had said they would not take part in the talks with the government until their jailed leaders were released.

Dr. Shainee said the government wants to see progress on political reconciliation. “But without participation from the Opposition we will get nowhere. We urge all parties to come to the table. We remain hopeful that fruitful discussions will take place soon,” he said.

The Minister played down criticisms that the repeated sackings and arrests of high-level officials in Maldives have dented the country’s democracy. “Those who have lost their jobs have broken the law, whether that be with graft and corruption, or crimes much more insidious that undermine our democracy and political institutions,” he said, adding: “The President is determined to get our house in order.”

Dr. Shainee has also hailed his country’s ties with India. “The relationship between our two countries is long-standing and very strong. On investment, the economy and regional security, they are our closest friends. No amount of political grandstanding by any individual or organisation will sever that tie.”

Dr. Shainee also came down heavily on Mr. Nasheed’s claim that the Maldives was “sitting on a time bomb”. In a recent interview with The Hindu , the former President, who’s now in London on a prison leave for medical reasons, had said “the only thing that can happen [in the Maldives] is a forceful overthrow” of the Yameen regime. Dr. Shainee said “to make such calls is deeply disappointing. It borders on the irresponsible and is extraordinary coming from a former President”.

Asked if the government expects Mr. Nasheed to come back to the country — following his treatment in London — to serve his prison term, Dr. Shainee said “yes”. He also said there’s an appeal against Nasheed’s sentence at the Supreme Court and that the government would not interfere in the counter-proceedings either for nor against him. “No one should be above the law.”

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 8:05:20 PM |

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