Maldives govt denies rejecting UN to mediate party talks

Embattled Maldives government on Thursday denied reports indicating that it had refused the United Nations (UN) to mediate the all party talks announced in a bid to resolve the ongoing political strife in the archipelago.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on February 5 had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.

As the state of emergency expired on Tuesday, president Yameen had got the parliament contentiously extend it by another 30 days.

Maldives government, in the face of mounting international pressure made a fresh attempt to start the failed all political party talks last week in a desperate bid to resolve the crisis.

The opposition had however, largely rejected the government invitation for dialogue, by setting stiff pre-conditions for the talks which included the release of jailed opposition leaders and allowing the UN to mediate any dialogue with the government.

Opposition had also claimed that a request had been sent out to the UN. Various international media reports on Thursday had quoted the deputy UN secretary general saying that the Maldives government had refused the UN to act as the mediator.

However, the chief government representative for the talks Dr Mohamed Shainee refuted the reports as blatant lies insisting that the government had openly invited Maldives' international partners to send envoy to mediate the talks.

"Those reports are not true. The government had not rejected any such notion. Because from the start the government has been looking to work closely with the international community," the fisheries minister Shainee stressed.

Shainee also said the UN had only called on the government to facilitate an environment for dialogue but the opposition's pre-conditions have become a major obstacle to any sit-down.

"The international community has called for dialogue without any pre-conditions. The opposition needs to come to terms with that. No one goes to a dialogue with pre-conditions," he added.

President Yameen has used the rights suspended under emergency state to crackdown hard on the opposition as police have made a series of high profile arrests including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, three lawmakers, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator.

Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.

The accusations against Gayoom included bribing lawmakers and judges to influence their authority while the deposed ruling party leader has also been accused of creating discord within the security forces to back the overthrow of his half-brother's government.

The two top court judges are accused of accepting bribes to influence Supreme Court rulings, abuse of power and blocking the functioning of the entire justice system.

In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the now rescinded order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.

Former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's uncle Hamid Ismail make up the rest of the list.