UN envoy begins proxy talks in bid to resolve Maldives crisis

UN envoy meeting the government representatives in the all party talks on Wednesday.

UN envoy meeting the government representatives in the all party talks on Wednesday.

The United Nations Envoy has begun proxy talks with the government and the opposition in a bid to end the continued political strife in the archipelago.

Tamrat Samuel, a senior advisor to the UN department of political affairs arrived in the Maldives on Sunday in a bid to revive the all-party talks which has remained stalled as the with the government and opposition at loggerheads over the release of jailed political leaders.

The chief government envoy in the talks, fisheries minister Dr Mohamed Shainee said the UN envoy had met the government representatives on Wednesday.

Defence minister Adam Shareef and Home Minister Ahmed Zuhoor are the other two government representatives in the talks.

Shainee however, did not disclose details of the discussions.

Samuel had met the newly appointed foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim on Tuesday as well as some Ambassadors to the Maldives including UK and India.

Opposition parties have refused to engage in direct talks with the government before jailed political leaders are released.

Government on Monday had invited all political leaders in exile to return to the Maldives to join the all party talks assuring that there was no danger for opposition figures.

The opposition meanwhile has announced a united front to oust president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom from office and form an interim government until the next presidential elections in 2018.

The Maldives United Opposition (MUO) brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

The MUO was established in London where key members of the opposition are in exile including Yameen’s first vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed’s jailing on a terror charge last year was a key trigger of the current political crisis. He was allowed to leave the country in an internationally brokered deal in January.

Jameel had meanwhile fled to the UK last July, days before he was impeached in a controversial vote. At the time, the Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim were already in jail.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year but was given asylum in Britain after traveling there for back surgery. Nazim is serving an 11-year jail term for possessing a firearm, and former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor was sentenced to 25 years in prison last week on two counts of terrorism charges, including an assassination attempt on the president.

MUO had announced that it would represent all political opponents in the talks.

However, the government has refused to recognize the opposition alliance.

The Commonwealth has meanwhile threatened action if there is no progress on dialogue by September.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, a watchdog body comprising of eight foreign ministers, laid out a six-point reform agenda in February, which includes the release of political prisoners and judicial reform.

Samuel’s visit to the Maldives in April last year failed to kick-start the talks.

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