Mohamed Shifaz, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s vice president who was arrested on a charge of disobeying police officers on Monday, has been remanded in custody for ten days.
Shifaz’s arrest, which came just two days before the first round of all-party talks, indicates the “government’s absolute lack of sincerity to talks and demonstrates the invitation was extended to fool the international community,” the MDP has said.
The first meeting for talks is scheduled for March 2.
Shifaz was arrested from outside the courthouse yesterday afternoon, while awaiting a verdict for some 14 MDP women charged with protesting in a restricted zone nearly a year ago.
Critics have condemned the criminal court’s practice of remanding opposition members for long periods as unlawful.
The MDP and its ally the Adhaalath Party have said they will only sit down for talks if President Abdulla Yameen makes a show of good faith by releasing jailed leaders.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed of the MDP was sentenced to 13 years in jail last March, while the AP’s President Sheikh Imran Abdulla was jailed for 12 years last month.
MDP claims some 1700 of its activists have politically motivated charges pending against them at court. The government disputes the figure.
The Commonwealth has urged the government to initiate inclusive talks and take steps to free jailed politicians and the return of those in exile.