MDP undecided on continuation of talks

MDP undecided on continuation of talks
July 30 11:45 2015

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) remains undecided on continuing talks with the government despite alleging President Abdulla Yameen had failed to honour a commitment to release former President Mohamed Nasheed.

MDP Spokesperson and MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said today that the party’s national council had held a closed door meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether it will continue the talks that had started on July 1.

Council members had shared their views and questioned MP and minority leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih on how talks had proceeded with the government, he said.

The council had not made any decisions, but agreed to strengthen the party’s activities.

The MDP on Sunday called on President Abdulla Yameen to honour commitments made to release Nasheed and other jailed politicians.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on a terrorism charge relating to the arrest of a judge during his tenure.

Instead of releasing Nasheed on July 23 as expected, the Prosecutor General in an unprecedented move, decided to appeal the guilty verdict. The appeal has not been filed yet.

Nasheed’s 13 year jail sentence has now been commuted to house arrest.

Revealing details of the government’s demands for the first time, the MDP on Sunday said that President Yameen had requested opposition backing to amend the constitution to set new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency, and the impeachment of Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

The government also asked for legislative support for specific projects, which was later revealed to be a second constitutional amendment to allow foreigners to buy land in the Maldives.

The MDP said it had delivered on all counts by issuing a three-line whip on the first two demands, and a free whip on the controversial foreign freeholds amendment. The party said it had also complied with a moratorium on street protests.

The free whip on foreign freeholds has divided MDP supporters. The party said it had issued a free whip because it believes in free ownership of land and property, but said it had reservations that the amendment could lead to foreign, non-commercial logistical installations or military bases being built in the Maldives.

In return, it had asked for freedom for political prisoners, including Nasheed, the dropping of charges against more than 1,000 political activists and reforms to the judiciary and independent institutions.

The MDP has called on the government to honour its commitments.

Stressing that it had entered talks with the government in good faith, the MDP said it had hoped to see meaningful reform to the “hopelessly politicised and corrupt” judiciary and independent institutions.

Further, the party also wished to usher in a parliamentary system of government for the Maldives.