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#Maldives: President Waheed's Reform Roadmap sunk before launching?

Male', Maldives.
Even as Nasheed's Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) capitulated and came to the negotiating table, Maldivian hopes for true democratic reform waned today as political parties undermined President Waheed's proposed Reform Roadmap. Key political leaders stayed away from the much anticipated All-Party talks today, instead sending representatives of little or no political weight. Citizen confidence in the Talks died as the whole exercise was exposed as just another drama of going though the motions of following due democratic process.

President Waheed's appointment of Ahamed Mujuthaba, the first Human Rights Commissioner of Maldives, was widely appreciated by the general public as Mujuthaba was seen as a person who would be acceptable to the aggrieved Nasheed and MDP. Although Mujuthaba filled cabinet posts in the Gayoom government, he gained credence amongst opposition for his later vocal and financial support to the MDP movement.

Of the political parties, only President Waheed's party Qaumee Itthihaad (QI), MDP and People's Alliance (PA) appeared to give the Talks any importance. QI sent its Secretary General Ahmed Thaufeeq (the most senior official next to its President, Dr. Waheed). MDP sents its Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a key decision maker who is reported to have full autonomy in negotiating for his party. Similarly, PA sent its Parliamentary Group Leader, Deputy Speaker of Majlis Ahmed Nazim, also with decision making authority on behalf of his party.

In stark contrast, People's Progressive Party (PPM) sent MP Ilham Mohamed, a individual low down in the PPM hierarchy with no authority for decision making on behalf of his party. Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) sent its "appointed" Deputy Leader, Ahmed Mohamed, again with no authority for decision making with respect to Thasmeen Ali's one-man party. Similarly, Dr. Hassan Saeed's one-man party, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) sent its Secretary General, an individual whose mandate does not include political negotiations on behalf of the party. Jumhooree Party (JP) and Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) sent similar minions of party spokesperson level in the party hierarchy.

Of key importance here is that the four major parties involved in the National Unity Government (NUG), DRP, PPM, JP and DQP have shown by their public snub that they have absolutely no interest in working out a peaceful solution with President Waheed or the MDP. The public know the reality that the ranks of major parties like PPM and DRP are packed with experienced educated individuals who may better contribute to discussions of such national importance as the Reform Roadmap.

In a volatile situation where even now large numbers of Maldivians are questioning what happened to their vote in the presidential elections of 2008, the All Party talks is shaping out to be a exclusionary process where the voices of the general public are not even given a chance to be heard. Political parties are operated as fiefdoms with no consultation with its grassroots or even national congresses. Civil society has not been given any voice to contribute to the Reform process, nor have independents who have no party affiliation.

In fact, the All Party Talks appear very much like parliamentary democracy in action, where political leaders and their minions determine the country's direction while the masses languish waiting for their democratic rights. It is to be hoped that, regardless of where other political parties stand, President Waheed will follow due democratic process and take a Public Referendum on whatever core directions that come out from the so-called All Party Talks.

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