Britain’s ambassador to the Maldives has said he is worried about the erosion of freedoms in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
James Dauris, in a carefully worded New Year message, said he had become fond of the country since taking up his appointment.
He highlighted the successful collaboration between the two nations on education, women’s issues and security.
“I’ve seen things that worry me happen too,” said Dauris in the message issued Thursday. “The freedoms to speak, to write, to meet, to justice, to choose are ones that should really matter, to all of us. We are hoping that we will see these freedoms start to flourish again in the coming year.”
Dauris was critical of the recent decision to ban local councils from meeting foreign diplomats and officials, calling it the “latest unfortunate step” in the Maldives, and has spoken out against the detention of former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.
He also used his New Year message to talk to about damage to the environment – a possible reference to the mangroves being destroyed to make way for a regional airport – and upcoming presidential elections.
“Looking to 2018, everyone will agree that one of the most important events is going to be the presidential election. Almost every Maldivian I meet tells me of their hope that the election and the whole election process will be fair, and that voters will have a real choice and a free choice. In the UK, we share that hope.”