MDP withdraws from talks, plans to restart anti-government campaign

MDP withdraws from talks, plans to restart anti-government campaign
August 25 14:31 2015

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is planning to restart a stalled antigovernment campaign in the wake of the re-imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The party’s national council unanimously voted last night to withdraw from talks with the government. Talks had been stalled since mid-July.

“We had stalled all of our street activities with the commencement of talks. We are now in the midst of planning a new campaign. The MDP’s internal committees are meeting regularly, we will sit with other opposition parties this week and we will restart our street activities and peaceful political activity,” said Aminath Shauna, a close aide to Nasheed and a member of the MDP.

Nasheed was taken back to jail on Sunday eight weeks after his 13-year jailterm on a terrorism conviction was commuted to house arrest.

The government now denies commuting the sentence and claims the document Nasheed signed agreeing to the terms of his permanent transfer to house arrest is forged.

Since talks began, the MDP had called of all street protests, ended protests within parliament and voted for several government proposals in the parliament including the impeachment of the former vice president.

At last night’s council meeting, minority leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih called for new ideas and urged the party to reorganize and restart its previous campaign to end tyranny. Ibu, who had represented the MDP in the talks, said there was no use to engaging in talks.

MP Eva Abdulla said: “Talks can only proceed if we can trust the government’s promises. We can no longer trust in their words or their official documents. President Nasheed’s re-imprisonment shows they have decided unilaterally to withdraw from the talks. There is nothing to discuss. The government is not mature enough to engage in talks.”

Several council members described President Abdulla Yameen’s regime as inhuman and as a terrorist organization. Many MPs suggested that they had been forced to vote against their principles in parliament for the sake of political reconciliation.

It was now better to talk to a wall than to the government, MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said. The MDP had always prioritized peaceful means instead of violence, he added.

Malé City Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed said: “The government is holding the opposition hostage. Yameen had every opportunity for reconciliation, to pave the way for a better future. The MDP will protest, the MDP will take to the streets again.”

“We have demonstrated sincerity in talks. We must never vote for government proposals in parliament,” said Hassan Ahmed.

The party today said it will inform the press of upcoming activities later today.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s office spokesperson, was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

World leaders including UK Prime Minister David Cameron have called for Nasheed’s release. Cameron today voiced concern over Nasheed’s re-imprisonment.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention will rule on the legality of Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October.

Additional reporting by Shafaa Hameed