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EU sanctions on Maldives could be stepped up

An annex listing the individuals or entities targeted by the sanctions remains blank.



European Union sanctions against the Maldives are a “political signal” to authorities and current measures could be stepped up if there is no improvement in the country’s situation, an EU source said.

The EU is imposing sanctions on people or bodies it says are responsible for rights abuses or stopping free and fair polls from taking place. They focus on two areas: travel bans and asset freezes.

An annex listing the individuals or entities targeted by the sanctions remains blank, more than three weeks after it was published.

“If the situation further deteriorates, in particular in the context of the presidential elections, we would consider to step up the current measures,” an EU source told the Maldives Independent.

“We hope to send a political signal that it is necessary for the stability and the prosperity of the Maldives to restore the rule of law and the normal functioning of democratic institutions, in particular a functioning parliament and independent judiciary, and to engage in a genuine dialogue with the opposition to unlock the current political situation.”

The EU would consider the situation if there was an improvement in the Maldives, the source said.

A presidential election is scheduled for September 23, but key opposition figures remain in prison or in exile.

Former ruler Mohamed Nasheed and tycoon Gasim Ibrahim have said they want to run for office.

But they are barred from doing so because of criminal convictions, and because the ruling party changed the law last month so that people who have sought asylum overseas cannot contest a presidential election for 10 years after relinquishing asylum status.

The opposition coalition is fielding Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih with a Jumhooree Party running mate.

“Over the past months we have been in constant contact with Maldivian authorities,” said the EU source. “We will continue to maintain intensive contact with Maldivian authorities and the opposition, together with the UN, to support and accompany a return to a democratic situation.”

There is an August 10 deadline for people to hand in their presidential candidacy applications. President Abdulla Yameen had not submitted his at the time of going to press.