A bipartisan coalition of 13 top US lawmakers, in a resolution submitted to the Congress, have called on the Maldives to free former President Mohamed Nasheed, imprisoned in March on a terrorism charge.
The non-binding bill is a bid to gain Congress backing to pressure President Abdulla Yameen to “guarantee due process for all the people of the Maldives and respect their human rights.”
Senator Patrick Leahy, the main sponsor of the bill, said Yameen has increasingly cracked down on dissent within his own party and the opposition, and “presided over the erosion of judicial impartiality.”
Nasheed’s arrest in February plunged the Maldives into political turmoil. Following mass protests, the government and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), engaged in talks, but the effort failed when Yameen refused to pardon the opposition leader.
A UN human rights panel has declared Nasheed’s imprisonment arbitrary.
But the government has rejected the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s non-binding opinion. Nasheed’s international lawyers said they hope to use the UN’s opinion to lobby for his release.
The MDP has called mass protests for November 6, but the government today declared a state of emergency.
Yameen’s grip on power is weakening with the arrest of his deputy Ahmed Adeeb, on a charge of plotting an assassination attempt by planting a bomb on his speedboat on September 28.
President’s spokesman was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.
In August, four members of the US Congress, wrote to Yameen, expressing concern over a backslide in democratic gains and urging him to release Nasheed.
In May US Secretary of State John Kerry called Nasheed’s imprisonment an “injustice that needs to be addressed soon.”