The European Union has a list of 41 individuals identified for targeted sanctions if the political situation in the Maldives does not improve with weeks left for a presidential election.
“I was Rapporteur of the European Parliament Resolution on the Maldives. We have the list. It has 41 names on it; I have seen it,” MEP Tomas Zdechovsky was quoted as saying in EP Today, a monthly news magazine for the European Parliament.
“We have targeted sanctions. Now is time for strategy. The resolution is clear; the articles are clear. We will send a strong message to the EU after this visit.”
Zdechovsky was part of an EU fact-finding delegation that visited the Maldives, whose schedule and agenda were kept secret due to “threats and intimidation”.
Following local media reports of the comments, Ahmed Shiaan, the Maldivian ambassador to the EU, told state media he was unaware that a list has been compiled. He dismissed the reports as false claims made to influence the September 23 polls.
Zdechovsky, however, went on to warn that “the international community will not stand by and accept a false election result; they will act together against the perpetrators – Europe is serious, its Members States are concerned and together they will work with the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Japan to uphold democracy and the democratic process. The sanctions list will be disclosed.”
An EU framework adopted last month says member countries can freeze funds and impose travel bans on individuals and entities. The annex listing the individuals or entities targeted by the sanctions remains blank.
“Europe needs to do much more, and must coordinate with its international partners. But there should also be a warning to the people surrounding President [Abdulla] Yameen who have committed human rights violations in his name: your names will be shared globally; there will be nowhere to hide,” said MEP Ryzsard Czarnecki, a member of the delegation.
“Yameen’s only loyalty is to power and greed. In the future, he will not come to the defence of those keeping him in power now.”
Henri Malosse, president of the European Economic and Social Committee, added: “The situation in the Maldives is a threat for the entire international community and concerns all of us. This situation could happen anywhere in a world where an ambitious apprentice-dictator builds a prison for his or her own people, supported by an aggressive superpower and terrorist groups.
“We will not let Yameen transform the paradise islands of the Maldives to a hell. If Yameen wins with threats and fraud, we won’t just ban his close friends, we will ban the whole country from tourism and investment.”
Last week, the Indian prime minister renewed calls for a conducive environment for polls. But the Maldives government remains defiant with former ruling party lawmakers barred entry to parliament, the police threatening legal action against the use of campaign posters of exiled leaders, and an opposition-aligned TV station slapped with a record fine that could force its closure.
The opposition has also accused the electoral body of conspiring with the incumbent.