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Indian PM calls for conducive environment for Maldives election

Modi renewed calls to restore the independent functioning of democratic institutions.



Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday renewed calls to restore the independent functioning of democratic institutions before the September 23 presidential election.

“We hope that Maldives government will ensure early resumption of the political process and allow democratic institutions, including the judiciary to function independently in a fair and transparent manner,” he told the Times of India.

“This will create conducive environment for the presidential elections.”

Modi’s statement echoed India’s calls in early July for the Maldives to “return to the path of democracy” before the polls as the parliament and judiciary were “not allowed to function in a free and transparent manner.”

It comes amidst amid nosediving relations since the Maldives directly rebuked New Delhi over its “deep dismay” about a state of emergency in February. The ruling party parliamentary group leader was denied entry to India as Malé imposed a deadline to remove two ‘gifted’ helicopters and denied refusing visas for Indian workers.

Modi said Sunday that political developments in the Maldives “have been a matter of considerable international concern.”

Last month, the European Union adopted a framework to impose targeted sanctions if the situation does not improve.

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.

On Thursday, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča arrived in the Maldives to discuss preparations for the presidential election.

“He underlined to all interlocutors the utmost priority of ensuring peaceful, fair and transparent elections,” the UN said.

He met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the Elections Commission’s chair, and the joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

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.”

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.”