Government Makes a Mockery of Inclusive Political Talks

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) believes the discussion due to take place tonight between representatives of the ruling party and a handful of smaller, government aligned parties is a mockery of the inclusive political dialogue called for by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the wider international community. The MDP believes this is not the All Party Talks envisaged by the international community and reiterates its calls to establish a conducive environment for dialogue by freeing political prisoners.

On 24 February, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) held an extraordinary meeting in London, following a high-level fact finding mission to the Maldives. The concluding statement of this meeting called upon the Government of Maldives (GoM) for a number of time bound actions. These actions include,

· An inclusive, purposeful, time-bound and forward-looking political dialogue, initiated by the Government and with the constructive participation initially of representatives of all political parties, aimed at achieving deeper and enduring understanding between government and opposition parties of their respective roles and responsibilities, a shared sense of national priorities, and overall a stronger climate of political pluralism in Maldives;
· Steps to be taken by the Government to enable the release of political leaders under detention or custody and the return of those from outside the country, so that all political leaders can contribute to political life in Maldives, including the political dialogue and the 2018 elections, pursuant to the Commonwealth Charter and the inalienable right of the people of Maldives to choose their political representatives;
· Steps to be taken to prevent the on going use of anti-terrorism or other legislation to stifle national political debate, and to address concerns raised regarding due process in judicial cases involving political figures;
· Renewed consideration and swift ensuing action to implement the recommendations made earlier by the Commonwealth on the separation of powers and independence of the judiciary in Maldives; Consideration by all concerned of practical confidence-building measures that promote freedom and space for civil society;

The Government has shown no inclination to meet these requirements. Instead President Yameen publicly said yesterday that his Government was saved from any formal action being taken against it at CMAG through the intervention of India on his side. The governments has intensified crackdown on dissent. On Monday, MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz was arbitrarily arrested and his detention has been extended by 10 days. Several individuals have been arrested, questioned and intimidated for allegedly taking photographs of the newly appointed chief judge of the criminal court. Furthermore on Tuesday local newspaper VNews, Avas and the country’s most established newspaper Haveeru have been banned from observing criminal court trials without any explanation. In the past week, President Yameen has escalated his anti-democratic rhetoric and mockery of calls for reform by the opposition and deliberately denied human rights violations highlighted by the international community.

The MDP calls upon the Government to demonstrate its sincerity to all Party talks by releasing political prisoners, in line with the recommendations stated in the CMAG concluding statement.