High-level talks took place Wednesday between senior European Union officials and a ministerial delegation from the Maldives.
Officials of the European Union External Action Service took up “the continuing deterioration of democracy in the Maldives” in light of the EU Council’s decision in February to consider targeted measures if the situation does not improve.
“The discussions focused on the critical importance of credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections in the Maldives both for the democracy in the country and for future relations between the EU and the Government of Maldives,” according to a press release.
“The EU underlined that the parliament and the judiciary should be enabled to return to their normal functioning in accordance with the Constitution and opposition parties should be enabled to perform their role in accordance with democratic standards.
“In particular, the EU reiterated the importance of the Maldivian Government and leaders of the opposition engaging in a genuine dialogue to address key democratic issues.”
In contrast to the EU statement, the Maldives foreign ministry claimed earlier this week that areas of discussion would include “climate change, fisheries, Schengen visa facilitation, electoral and governance reform, countering terrorism and violent extremism and trade.”
With the presidential election scheduled for September 23, all opposition leaders are in exile or behind bars and President Abdulla Yameen remains defiant in the face of calls to release political prisoners.
On Wednesday, the government dismissed concern expressed by Australia over actions that “reduce the prospect that the upcoming presidential election can be free and fair.”
Following a visit to Malé by the Australian ambassador, the embassy in Sri Lanka urged the government to “permit legitimate opposition activity, which is essential for any election to be credible.”
Over the past three days, riot police were deployed across the capital to confiscate and tear off posters put up by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s campaign workers.
In its response to Australia’s concerns, the government claimed the opposition’s actions were “in clear violation of the constitution and the laws of the country,” and assured commitment to “protect and promote fundamental freedoms”.
The foreign ministry statement did not specify which laws or constitutional provisions were breached by the “actions by some political actors”.
The Australian statement echoed doubts expressed by India over the “credibility of the entire process of presidential elections” after the sentencing of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, former chief justice Abdulla Saeed and justice Ali Hameed.
In April, the Maldives rejected the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision that former president Mohamed Nasheed’s right to run for office must be restored.
Earlier this week, the ruling party’s parliamentary group leader proposed legal changes to bar opposition leaders who have secured political asylum overseas from running for president.
The Maldives delegation at the EU was led by Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Asim along with Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee and Legal Affairs Minister Aishath Azima Shukoor.
Amb Shiaan welcomes Ministerial delegation to Brussels to hold high-level diplomatic consultations with the European Union.⁰ Delegation includes @MDVForeign HE Dr. Mohamed Asim, @Fishagri HE Dr.⁰Mohamed Shainee and @presidencymv HE Uza. Aishath Azima Shakoor. pic.twitter.com/jEx39tig3M
— MDV Embassy Belgium (@MDVembBelgium) June 26, 2018
Look who I found in Brussels. pic.twitter.com/ILO9uw2V79
— Mohamed Shainee (@mshainee) June 27, 2018
Sunday roundup: terrorism, corruption and hate speech
News in brief: Addu City hit by severe flooding
Maldives suspends NGO for ‘slandering Islam’
Thursday roundup: Maldives Supreme Court poses ‘major threat to democratic rule’
News in brief: onion prices soar
Warehouse fire in Maldives capital claims one life
Maldives coral reefs show signs of resilience and recovery
Minivan Brief: Weaponised Islam and #MvTreeGrab
Audit exposes corruption at National Center for Information Technology
More than 400 people displaced in Malé warehouse fire
Crime1 month ago
Immigration stopped 11 ‘imposters’ with fake passports
Crime3 months ago
Charges raised over street harassment for first time in Maldives
Crime2 months ago
Ex-vice president detained in India after fleeing Maldives
Politics2 months ago
‘Terrorist group’ behind Rilwan’s abduction
Society & Culture2 months ago
Five dead in tragic accident at sea
Politics2 months ago
Maldives backs India’s ‘right to amend laws as required’
Business & Tourism3 months ago
India becomes second largest market for Maldives tourism
Crime1 month ago
Rilwan killed by Maldives group linked to al-Qaeda, presidential commission reveals