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EU and UN ‘not interested’ in observing Maldives election

The EU and UN rejected invitations by the Elections Commission.



The European Union and United Nations will not be sending observers for the September 23 presidential election, the Elections Commission revealed Sunday.

The EU was invited to observe polling, EC chief Ahmed Shareef told the press, but officials informed him in writing in mid-August that “they do not have interest in observing the presidential election.”

“So we expect there won’t be any kind of representative from the EU and UN during this election,” he said.

Shareef said the UN was also invited but the EC was told that they do not usually observe elections.

“The European Union decided not to observe the upcoming presidential elections in the Maldives and informed the Electoral Commission on 14 August,” said an EU official.

“When meeting the Maldivian Ministerial Delegation in Brussels on 27 June, the EU urged the Maldivian authorities to create the necessary atmosphere and trust for inclusive, credible and transparent presidential election.”

The UN was also contacted about its involvement in the election but there was no response.

The UN asked whether its consultant could be added to the national election advisory committee, he added, but the EC decided to reject the request as the committee’s composition was specified in a regulation.

In the 2013 election, there were 102 foreign observers from 19 countries and international organisations. They included observers from Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, United States and the Commonwealth.

The EU did not observe the 2013 presidential elections. It deployed an Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) for the 2014 parliamentary elections.

The Maldives quit the Commonwealth in 2016 and the EU has approved a framework to impose targeted sanctions over human rights concerns and the widely condemned jailing of President Abdulla Yameen’s opponents.

EC member Ahmed Akram said the EC invited observers from regional and international associations of elections bodies.

Some 25 observers have been accredited, he said, adding that details would be disclosed later.

Earlier this month, Mihaaru reported that the UN decided not to have any involvement in any aspect of the election.

A UN source told the newspaper that the decision was based on an assessment by the UN Political Affairs Department, which concluded that the environment was not conducive for support.

Ahead of previous elections, the UN provided technical assistance to the EC in carrying out awareness, training and voter outreach programmes.

Earlier this month, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča visited the Maldives to discuss preparations.

With the EC chief, a loyalist of the president, Jenča “exchanged views on maintaining the commission’s impartiality, the voter registry, unimpeded space for campaigning, equal access to media, complaint resolution and both domestic and foreign observation,” the UN said.

According to the UN, he was “encouraged by the government’s commitment to ensure credible elections and further discussed ways and additional efforts to build a level playing field for fair electoral competition.”

Photo of EU observers during 2013 election.

This article was amended and updated with comment from the EU.