Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-5-15 20:52:06
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has called on the opposition to begin talks for the"stability and the benefit of Maldivian citizens. But opposition parties charge there is no apparent change in the government stance, local media reported on Friday.
The Maldives has been gripped by political turmoil over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed for 13 years and former defense minister Mohamed Nazim for 11 years.
The president had previously described the allied opposition parties' demands for the pair's release as "unlawful," saying they must appeal their sentences at the high court.
Yameen has also so far refused to issue a presidential pardon for Nasheed, despite repeated appeals from his lawyers on the grounds he does not have such power.
President Yameen stressed he has no role in Nasheed and Nazim' s incarceration, saying charges were raised by the independent prosecutor general's office and tried in independent courts.
President's office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali reiterated the call for talks by the president but said the government's stance "has not changed," stating "There are boundaries and limits to everything, and in this case it is the law."
President Yameen's earlier refusal to substantially engage with the opposition had resulted in a 20,000-strong march in Male on May 1. Nearly 200 people were arrested and many others injured in clashes with police.
The leaders of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party and the Jumhooree Party were arrested shortly afterwards and remanded for 15 days.
When asked if the president's office was ruling out negotiations on Nasheed and Nazim's release, Muaz said the government has not set an agenda or a representative for negotiations but reiterated that talks can only proceed on " demands the president can meet."
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism and Nazim was sentenced to 11 years on weapons smuggling charges. The trials have been condemned by foreign governments and international bodies including the United Nations for apparent lack of due process.
However, the opposition parties have agreed to meet for talks though a date is yet to be decided.