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India condemns Maldives over Gayoom sentence

There are doubts a free and fair election can be held in the Maldives.

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India risked angering the Maldives Thursday as it condemned the jailing of a former president and two top judges, saying their imprisonment cast doubt on the credibility of this year’s presidential poll.

Its statement follows the sentencing of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed, who were found guilty of obstruction of justice and handed 19-month jail sentences.

Ties between the two countries have been unravelling for months and India’s latest remarks could further provoke the Maldives, which has previously hit back at its neighbour for commenting on its political situation.

“It is… with deep dismay that we learned that the former President of the Maldives as well as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are being sentenced to long prison terms without fair trial,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

“This casts doubt on the commitment of the Government of the Maldives to uphold the rule of law and will also call into question the credibility of the entire process of Presidential elections in September this year.”

President Abdulla Yameen is seeking a second term in office. He has been accused of reversing civil and political rights in the country.

A think tank this week warned the Maldives was moving on a “path of confrontation” with its neighbour, while The Hindu reported the downturn in relations was affecting job opportunities for Indians in the tropical holiday destination.

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