Maldives Prez ask MDP to join govt, MDP says no

Male: Making it clear that the elections would be held as per schedule in 2013, Maldives` new President Mohammed Waheed Hassan has asked ousted leader Mohammad Nasheed`s MDP to join the national unity government, an offer which was turned down by the party demanding snap polls.

"President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has sent a letter to (Nasheed`s) Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) requesting it to inform, before February 20, its decision on joining the national unity government," a statement issued by his office said today.

However, the MDP said they have informed the government that they would not join it since they do not recognise the regime. "We have officially informed them that we will not join the government. There was a resolution of the party which said we don`t recognise the government," party sources said.

The move came on a day when Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai was here for meetings with key stakeholders. Mathai, who came here on Wednesday night, had already met Hassan and Nasheed.

In his letter to MDP President Ibrahim Didi, Hassan said that at a time when the country was deeply divided, the way forward in achieving national aspirations was through working together and a fully inclusive government, a statement released by his office said. He urged MDP to join the national unity government that he was striving to form, it said.

In the letter, Hassan said he believed that, despite political differences, the MDP President would view the need to complete the reform process.  Hassan stressed that the reform process would take time to complete.

Therefore, he said, he hoped the MDP President would see that the time left till 2013 elections could be an opportunity for the country to address the political problems, identify issues and to work together to complete the reform process.

The President also stressed on the need to resolve the existing political rifts and to find a way forward. In this regard, he said, he hoped that his proposition would bring an end to the long-standing divisions that had existed in the country.

Nasheed, who resigned last week, has been demanding snap polls. The current regime, headed by his former deputy Hassan has said that elections would be held as per schedule in November 2013.

Hassan`s letter also came ahead of a proposed "grand" rally by the MDP as a show of strength. Meanwhile, a local media report said the Maldivian armed forces held a walk this morning "to display the camaraderie and unity amongst them."

A large number of officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) took part in the walk, chanting national slogans and waving the national flag. Prior to the commencement of the walk, the officers had gathered at the Republic Square and renewed their oath.

The purpose of the event was to show that the forces would not be afraid to lay down their lives to protect and defend the nation and religion against external enemies and threats, a spokesperson of the MNDF was quoted as saying by Haveeru newspaper in its online edition.