UN to mediate Maldives all-party talks abroad?

President Yameen (R) meets with Tamrat Samuel, senior advisor to the UN department of political affairs. PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

President Yameen (R) meets with Tamrat Samuel, senior advisor to the UN department of political affairs. PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

Attempts to hold all-party talks between the Maldives government and political parties abroad, with the United Nations as a mediator, to end incessant political strife have surfaced.

The previous endeavour to revive all-party talks last November fell through due to lack of cooperation from certain political parties, according to the government.

Mihaaru understands that Tamrat Samuel, a senior advisor to the UN department of political affairs, was scheduled to arrive in the Maldives in November to mediate the talks. However, his arrival was put off when the government requested a postponement at the UN, saying that the situation of the Maldives then was impractical for talks.

The government has not made any statements regarding this matter so far.

According to Mihaaru’s sources, attempts are currently being made to host the Maldives’ all-party talks abroad with neighbouring Sri Lanka and Malta as the prime candidates.

While Mihaaru has not been able to gather much information about the work done in Malta, sources state that a number of foreign embassies in Sri Lanka have proposed to Lankan government to host the Maldives’ talks. In addition to Tamrat Samuel, it has been proposed to bring Sri Lanka’s Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to the talks as a Sri Lankan representative well-versed with the Maldives’ situation.

It appears that Sri Lankan government have acquiesced to the proposals though they informed foreign missions that the Maldives’ agreement is required to finalise the talks.

Mihaaru understands that Sri Lanka has mediated the foreign entities’ proposal to the Maldives government when the Maldives’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Asim met with Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera during the former’s visit to the South Asian neighbour last week.

The government of Maldives’ stand on the issue or decision have not been disclosed.

Over a year has passed with attempts to hold all-party talks between the government and political parties without any progress. Tamrat Samuel had previously arrived in the Maldives last July to hold “proxy” talks with political parties separately, but the endeavour did not yield much results.

The latest obstruction to proceeding with talks occurred when party councils were appealed by the President’s Office to choose representatives for the negotiations. The political dispute that cropped up between the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s leader, Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and his half-brother and incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom split PPM into two factions, which had put more heat on the strained attempts at reviving party talks. With both factions of PPM creating separate party councils and choosing representatives for the talks, the government had finally decided that candidates put forward by President Yameen’s faction, parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan and Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, will represent PPM.

Foreign entities have previously assumed the role of mediators to calm political fires in the Maldives, most notably the government of Sri Lanka. The South Asian neighbour had mediated peace several time during the reign of Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and also during the political turmoil under the regime of Former President Mohamed Nasheed.

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