UN envoy departs with appeal for ‘maximum flexibility’

UN envoy departs with appeal for ‘maximum flexibility’
July 23 20:33 2016

Tamrat Samuel, a special advisor at the UN department of political affairs, departed Thursday after a four-day visit to conduct proximity talks with the government and opposition parties.

“During his stay, Mr. Samuel met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, senior government officials, political party representatives and civil society representatives, and held extensive and useful consultations as part of the United Nations’ effort to facilitate political dialogue in the Maldives,” the UN said in a statement.

“The consultations represent a follow-up to Mr. Samuel’s visit of last April, and will continue in the period ahead through established channels of communication.

“He urged all concerned Maldivian parties to show maximum flexibility and commitment to compromise in order to overcome outstanding differences and address vital matters of national importance.”

Samuel left the Maldives last April with no sign of meaningful progress.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and ally Adhaalath Party met with the UN official but refused to engage directly with the government until its leaders are released from prison.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, whose imprisonment on a terrorism charge in March last year triggered the ongoing political crisis, said after Samuel returned last week that dialogue cannot take place with “political party leaders held as hostages.”

Nasheed was granted asylum in the UK last May after he was authorised to travel for medical treatment.

After a meeting with Samuel in the UK last month, Nasheed’s office said in a statement that the Supreme Court’s judgments on his case as well as that of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim pave the way for the government to “initiate clemency procedures as discussed.”

“Moving forward with political dialogue remains with President [Abdulla] Yameen releasing prisoners and paving the way for talks between the Maldives United Opposition and the government to establish a dialogue for inclusive free and fair elections,” reads the statement.

“This dialogue must address the release of political prisoners including Sheikh Imran, and produce tangible and actionable resolutions on judicial reform, and human rights in the Maldives.”

Following Samuel’s meeting with the president last week, Yameen meanwhile “expressed appreciation for the commitment and continued support extended by the UN for political dialogue,” according to the president’s office.

The pair also discussed ways to move forward with the political party talks.

During his visit, Samuel also met with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, representatives of both the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives and the Jumhooree Party, the Indian high commissioner, and the newly-appointed foreign minister.

The PPM is meanwhile engulfed in internecine strife over a power struggle between Yameen and his half-brother Gayoom for control of the party.