Commonwealth envoy to head to Lanka after second Maldives visit

Commonwealth envoy Willy Mutunga (L) with Maldives foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim. PHOTO/FOREIGN MINISTRY

Commonwealth envoy Willy Mutunga (L) with Maldives foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim. PHOTO/FOREIGN MINISTRY

Commonwealth special envoy Dr Willy Mutunga tasked with ending the ongoing political strife in the Maldives arrived back in the archipelago for his second visit on Saturday.

Mutunga who retired in July as the Kenyan chief justice was appointed as the special envoy to the Maldives where he is expected to aid in the process of constitutional and political transition.

Government had not announced his arrival but the foreign ministry had shared a photo of a meeting between foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim and Mutunga on Sunday.

Mihaaru understands the envoy will be in the Maldives until Friday and will reportedly fly to neighbouring Sri Lanka where he is expected to meet diplomats accredited to the Maldives.

Mutunga’s scheduled visit to Sri Lanka comes at a time when key opposition figures are reportedly planning a move to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom from the neighbouring country.

Jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed is reportedly in Sri Lanka to plan Yameen’s ouster.

Nasheed who has been granted asylum in the UK after he was allowed to leave for medical treatment in an internationally brokered deal in January has united the main opposition parties and stepped up efforts to remove Yameen from office.

Nasheed had been sentenced last March on a terrorism charge over the arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting Judge during his presidency, in a trial widely criticized for lack of due process.

Opposition had said, former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed who had recently been granted political refugee status by Britain would also join the talks in Sri Lanka.

Jameel had fled to the UK last July days before he was impeached in a controversial vote which was alleged to have been orchestrated by his eventual successor Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who himself was impeached following a blast aboard the presidential speedboat.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

The MUO brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

Government has intensified its crackdown on top opposition figures after BBC quoted sources saying the opposition plans to move against the president “within weeks.”

According to the BBC report, details of what is being planned remain obscure but the government has described it as a “formal attempt at ‘legally’ overthrowing the government”.

A Maldives court on Tuesday issued a formal warrant for the arrest of Nasheed to coincide with his visit to Sri Lanka.

According to the police, the arrest warrant was issued in conjunction with investigations, pursuant to a 2011 Audit Report.

Nasheed and six senior officials of his administration have been ordered to repay government funds they had allegedly misused or face lawsuits.

The Maldives Correctional Service is also seeking to have Nasheed brought back to serve a remainder of his 13 year sentence from which he was initially granted extraordinary medical leave.

In addition to Nasheed, an arrest warrant has also been issued against former vice president and leader of the new opposition coalition Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

The arrest warrant was issued against Dr Jameel who now heads the opposition coalition over the forged warrant to arrest the president.

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