United Nations, Feb 23 (IANS) Maldives President Abdulla Yameen did “convey that mediation was not wanted at this stage” when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to him last week, Guterres’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujrric has confirmed.
The conversation between the two leaders took place on February 16, Dujarric said.
The government of Yameen extended by 30 days on Wednesday the state of emergency that was declared on February 6 when Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, another judge and several politicians and activists were arrested.
“Obviously, we are all following the situation in Maldives with concern,” Dujarric said.
In an apparent response to a statement from the UN on Wednesday that Yameen had turned down the Secretary-General’s offer to mediate between him and the opposition, Maldives Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Mohamed Shainee tweeted on Thursday that the President had not rejected a UN role in “All Party Talks”.
Asked about Shainee’s claim, Dujarric reiterated that “the Secretary-General, in a conversation with the President, offered UN mediation, but the President conveyed that mediation was not wanted at this stage”.
“I can only speak for half of the phone call, and I can only speak for our half,” Dujarric added.
Asked about contacts with the opposition, which had written to Guterres asking for UN participation in talks with the government, Dujarric said: “I’m not aware that the Secretary-General has spoken to anyone in the opposition.”
In his tweet, Shainee claimed that Yameen had himself requested UN participation in talks and that the opposition was blocking the government’s attempts to have an initial engagement with them, which he said the UN required.
Earlier, the Joint Opposition led by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party wrote to Guterres asking him to mediate between them and the government and to oversee any talks held.
The Maldives crisis began on February 1 when the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the terrorism conviction of former President Nasheed, as well as the convictions of eight other politicians on several charges.
After the arrest of the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and the other judge, the other three judges remaining on the Supreme Court overturned the court’s unanimous ruling ordering the release of the nine politicians.
Meanwhile, Maldives mission to the UN has set up a modest photo exhibition showing both the nature wonders of the archipelago as well as everyday scenes from the country.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])