Government on Tuesday asked all political parties to have the representatives for the imminent all party talks passed by the councils of the respective parties in a move widely regarded to snub the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s lawmaker son from the sit-downs.
The former president, locked in a bitter power struggle with his half brother and incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had nominated his son, Dhiggaru MP Faaris Maumoon and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim — both from his faction to the Commonwealth led talks with the government — designed to find a resolution to the protracted political strife in the archipelago.
The row between the Gayoom brothers have split PPM in two ever since the elder Gayoom attempted to block government proposed amendment to the Tourism Act.
Gayoom had moved quickly to assume full control of the party amid a fallout from his failed attempt to get his party lawmakers to vote down the amendment which sought to bypass the bidding process in island lease for tourism.
Gayoom soon after announced a reform program in a desperate bid to wrestle back control of his party had labelled the amendment as a clear violation of the party’s charter.
The party’s disciplinary committee had ignored a ban on all party sit-downs imposed by Gayoom to vote out Faaris from the party.
President Yameen reportedly commands majority in the PPM council, and if it goes to a vote it would almost certainly rule Faaris out of the talks.
The government’s attempt to dictate party representatives for the talks was met by heavy criticism from the political parties including PPM.
Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the government had no grounds to make such a demand.
As the parties function independently and in accordance with their respective charters such a condition was described as ‘moot’ by the parties.
Government meanwhile, has agreed to the opposition demand for a United Nations (UN) mediator in the talks to resolve the continued political strife in the archipelago.
The government had moved quickly to invite the main opposition parties to designate representatives for the talks after Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) placed Maldives on its formal agenda and warned the island nation suspension from the Commonwealth if the government failed to make progress on a proposed reform agenda.
CMAG had laid out a six-point reform agenda in February, which includes the release of political prisoners and judicial reform.
However, during a review meeting late last month the ministers expressed deep disappointment at the lack of progress in the priority areas.
CMAG had also called on both sides to compromise and sit-down for dialogue without any pre-conditions.
MDP and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) had said it would honour the Commonwealth’s push for dialogue but had asked the government to involve a UN mediator in the sit-downs.
In addition to the Commonwealth, the United Nations had also initiated proxy talks after the main opposition parties refused to sit-down with government demanding the release of all jailed political leaders as a pre-condition for the talks earlier this year.
The UN had appointed Tamrat Samuel as its envoy who arrived in the Maldives in July to revive the all-party talks which had remained stalled as the with the government and opposition at loggerheads over the release of jailed political leaders.
Despite renouncing pre-conditions for talks with the government, both MDP and Adhaalath had said it would push to free jailed opposition leaders including former president Mohamed Nasheed and AP president Sheikh Imran Abdulla.