Geneva, October 6 (newsin.asia): A delegation of law makers from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had “constructive and involved” discussions with the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein and other top diplomats on Thursday on the ground situation in the Maldives.
The meeting took place even as the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on member states to consider imposing “individual targeted sanctions” over “the deteriorating political and human rights situation in the Maldives and the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Abdulla Yameen”.
The Maldivian government promptly rejected the charges saying that they were “highly motivated by one-sided political rhetoric” and contained “inaccuracies, contradictions and misrepresentations.”
The ruling PPM’s delegation, led by Majority Leader, Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik, also met Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), heads of Missions from the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and representatives of the US, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
Opposition Spurns Call For Talks
The heads of missions were briefed about the Maldivian opposition parties’ refusal to participate in All-Party talks to resolve all contentious issues.
While the government has proposed talks without preconditions, the opposition has set preconditions such as guaranteeing “special circumstances” for their leadership, the delegation pointed out.
The MPs said that the government of President Yameen has been inviting the opposition for an “unconditional constructive engagement” even as the latter has been “willfully misrepresenting facts on the ground,” to the world.
The opposition has spurned call for talks despite the government’s assurance that that it would engage it fully and address all its concerns ,the MPs pointed out.
The Maldivian government had earlier called upon the international community to encourage the opposition to accept its standing invitation for all-party talks where all parties would be heard.
The MPs also said that the Maldives is ready to engage with the international community and this was appreciated.
The Maldivian lawmakers highlighted the government’s efforts to protect and promote human rights; strengthen democratic governance; carry out legal reforms; and crush terrorism and extremism.
Besides Manik, the parliamentary delegation comprised the Secretary General of PPM, Dr.Abdulla Khaleel; Deputy Leader of PPM Ali Arif; MP Ahmed Shiyam; and Chief Whip, Jameel Usman.
EU Resolution called for Sanctions
The European Union (EU) parliament on Thursday had adopted a “non-binding” resolution calling upon the Maldivian authorities to reform the judiciary, release political prisoners, and to guarantee the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, a report in the Maldivian Independent said.
It urged the EU to “to make full use of all instruments at its disposal in order to promote respect for human rights and democratic principles in the Maldives, including by considering introducing temporary individual targeted sanctions against those undermining human rights”.
Most MEPs observed that the situation has “worsened” since the EU parliament passed a resolution in December 2015 urging member states to freeze assets and impose travel bans against top officials.
Among issues of concern were the reintroduction of the death penalty, the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed and the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan; the growing number of Maldivians joining extremist groups, the suspension of one-third of licensed lawyers, and “the forcible closure of the Maldivian Majlis to its members and the harassment, intimidation and arrest of elected members of parliament”.
Maldivian Govt Trashes Allegations
The Maldivian government said that it categorically rejects the resolution.
“It is highly motivated by one-sided political rhetoric and contains inaccuracies, contradictions, misrepresentations and baseless allegations. The resolution is further aimed at undermining the Constitution of the Maldives,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“It is unfortunate that the European Parliament has adopted such a resolution with complete disregard to the considerable gains made by the Government of Maldives in terms of socio-economic development, consolidating democracy and upholding the rule of law, over the past few years.”
“It is also difficult to comprehend the motive behind such a resolution when the Government of Maldives is preparing to welcome a European Parliament delegation in a few weeks’ time, where they could have had the opportunity to assess the situation on the ground and adopt a fair and balanced resolution,” the statement said.
However, the statement added that the Government of Maldives will continue to work closely with the European Union, especially with the European Commission.
The statement went on to say that the Government takes note of the statement given by the European External Action Service (EEAS) at the European Parliament today, and concurs with the view that the way forward is positive engagement on issues of mutual concern.”
The Government said that it remains committed to working with all international partners who wish to engage in a collaborative and constructive manner in the consolidation of democracy in the Maldives.
(The featured picture at the top shows the Maldivian ruling party MPs’ delegation with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein in Geneva on Thursday)