Maldives govt 'committed' to party talks despite Commonwealth exit

Government remains committed to all party talks to resolve the ongoing political strife in the country, chief government representative to the talks Dr Mohamed Shainee said Thursday.

The all party talks had been led by the Commonwealth and the government's decision to leave the now 52 member bloc last month left question marks over dialogue between the main political parties in the archipelago.

Maldives left the Commonwealth last month citing unfair and unjust treatment weeks after the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – the enforcement mechanism of the Commonwealth – threatened to suspend Maldives from the council at its next meeting in March if effective steps were not taken to resolve the ongoing political crisis in the archipelago .

Shainee however, said the party talks remains on track but explained that the sit-downs have been delayed as the parties are yet to name representatives for the talks.

Government had first, demanded all political parties to have the representatives for the talks passed by the councils of the respective parties.

Days after, the government had informed all political parties that it would not allow convicted and jailed politicians in the talks.

The pre-conditions were criticized by the opposition parties, especially the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), looking to free their jailed leaders through the talks.

"We haven't been able to start the talks because we're still waiting for the names of the representatives. Once we receive the names we would inform the UN envoy. We will hold the talks with the UN envoy," Shainee who is the fisheries minister said.

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.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year but was given asylum in Britain after traveling there for back surgery while Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla was found guilty of terrorism over a speech he gave at the May Day rally and sentenced to 12 years in prison in February.

Imran was accused of inciting violence with the prosecution arguing that he must bear responsibility for the violent clashes.