Maldives opposition rejects 'insincere' party talks invite

Maldives' opposition alliance presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Tuesday rejected the invitation extended by the government for talks insisting that the government continues to refuse conducive environment for genuine dialogue.

The government earlier this month had renewed the invitation for all party talks following Solih's selection to replace self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed who forfeited his presidential ticket for the upcoming presidential elections.

Speaking to reporters at his party's main camp in the capital Male, the veteran lawmaker said he had officially responded to the invitation asking the government to engage in dialogue with the leaders of the opposition parties.

Solih said there can never be a conducive environment for genuine dialogue until the government agrees to free jailed opposition leaders adding that any sit-down must be mediated by the international community.

"But as things stand, I don't believe we can expect a positive outcome from any dialogue with the government. The government is refusing to establish a conducive environment," Solih added.

Nasheed's refusal to back-down earlier had threatened to destroy the once unimaginable alliance he had formed with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the other two opposition party leaders - Gasim Ibrahim and Sheikh Imran Abdulla.

But Nasheed's sudden withdrawal, has now united the once divided opposition and have finally agreed on nominating a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

Hours after Nasheed's withdrawal, the four leaders in a joint statement said the opposition have now reached an agreement to join forces against incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Gasim's Jumhoory Party (JP) along with Imran's religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) have already come out in support of Solih as the opposition alliance candidate for the elections.

According to the long awaited opposition agreement, the presidential candidate would be Solih while JP has nominated lawmaker Faisal Naseem as his running mate.